Leinster clash too close for comfort
SUMMERHILL'S last outing in the Leinster Club championship was two years ago when they were on the receiving end of a 10-point drubbing from Dublin championship St Brigid's.
'Hill boss Declan McCabe must have feared the worst again on Sunday when his side trailed by three points following an indifferent opening-half display against Newtown Blues at the Gaelic Grounds.
After conceding five successive points, half-time couldn't come quick enough for the Meath champions and the break was an opportunity to regroup and attempt to right the wrongs of the opening half.
'We spoke at half-time - three points down in November - that lead, if it didn't change quickly, the game could end fairly rapidly. So we needed to do something very, very quickly and thankfully the lads grabbed it around the middle and there were some very quick scores,' said McCabe.
'Probably the turnover goal from Paul Rispin was the winning of it. They were coming out and we turned it over. We had that cushion, but still we were never sure - there were mistakes being made as well,' the Cavan native added after the final whistle.
However he didn't believe the three-week break from the county final was a reason for a flat-footed opening half-hour's display.
'It was more of going into the unknown,' McCabe said. ' You think you are ready for a provincial game, but you are not. Its a different level - you are playing the county champions from a different county and they are worthy champions, and when you go out there people think it's a continuation of where you left off in the county championship.
'But this is a new experience for these lads. They are a young team and it took a while for them to settle.
'We had two or three chances early on and we didn't take them and they got their goal then. The big score for us was to get a goal before half-time because they had that goal and goals tend to win matches at this time of the year, so it was important for us to get one as well.'
McCabe lamented the fact that his charges didn't put the game to bed when they went five points clear, resulting in a few scary moments before the finish.
'We didn't close out the game when we had a five-point lead and that has been a problem in a couple of game in the recent past. We were on top, we had a couple of bad wides and we gave the ball away as well with fist passes and we put ourselves under severe pressure near the end.
'It could have went either way because we didn't capitalise on our superiority around the middle. The conditions were good and we got a good score - usually about 1-10 wins matches at this time of year.'
The 'Hill could be boosted by the return of Davy Dalton for the semi-final clash against St Vincent's after the county player made an appearance in the final five minutes on Sunday. It was Dalton's first competitive outing since the NFL Division 3 Final against Monaghan last April and the wing back has been hampered by a series of injuries since, forcing him to miss most of the season.
'It was good to see Davy back on the pitch. He broke through shortly after coming on and it looked as if it was going to be a great score, but the keeper saved and maybe he should have punched the ball over the bar.
'It's great to have him back, though. He has been working hard over the past number of months to get himself right.'