Monday 11 December 2017

Experience is key as 'Hill land Keegan

A BATTLE-HARDENED Summerhill put the brakes on the Na Fianna roller-coaster as they captured their second Keegan Cup crown in three years at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.

Experience proved a major factor in the victory, as did the ability of the Summerhill defence to stymie Na Fianna's free-flowing attack.

After registering 14 goals in their last three championship outings the Enfield/Baconstown outfit could only manage to find the net once on this occasion. Goal-getter supreme Shane Barrett had plenty of attention whenever he got possession and was continually bottled up, and all of his three points came from placed balls.

They found the 'Hill rearguard almost as uncompromising when it came to point-scoring and Daniel Queeney and Conor Downey were their only attackers to point from play.

Despite all that, last year's Intermediate winners still had opportunities to make their championship debut at senior level complete, but their hopes of victory were dented as they hit a couple of bad wides after scoring six successive points to wipe out Summerhill's third-quarter lead.

The game was evenly poised at 1-10 each after 49 minutes following a tremendous revival, but Daniel Queeney then shot wide both from a free and play. Summerhill were on the back foot at that stage, but they drew on all their experience in the closing stages and were rewarded when Paul Rispin regained the lead on 55 minutes.

Those missed opportunities and that Rispin point seemed to drain the life out of Na Fianna and the 'Hill went for the jugular in the closing minutes, and first substitute Richie Hatton and then Adrian Kenny sealed a deserved win with further points.

The contest between these neighbouring clubs from the south of the county was billed as a potential classic and certainly in terms of excitement and entertainment it didn't disappoint.

Summerhill started as if they were going to blow their opponents away with an early goal and a point, but they soon got the message that Na Fianna weren't just content to make the decider.

David Larkin gave the 2011 champions a dream start when finding the net after just 50 seconds. The wing forward cut in from the right and while Na Fianna keeper Shane Geraghty got a hand to the ball he was unable to prevent it from crossing the line.

Sean Dalton, a pre-match replacement in the 'Hill attack, added a point, but that quick-fire start failed to have an unsettling effect on Na Fianna who responded with a goal of their own from Dalton McDonagh. That score came after a bizarre goalmouth scramble before McDonagh eventually forced the ball over the line at the second attempt.

It helped Na Fianna get rid of any big-match nerves and overcome the setback of conceding that opening-minute goal and they eventually went on to lead 1-3 to 1-2 after 14 minutes. .

However the challengers only managed a solitary point in the second quarter as Summerhill enjoyed a period of dominance.

With Conor Gillespie winning the midfield battle and the quick-footed Sean Dalton proving a target man at full forward, Summerhill took control of proceedings for a spell and pressed home their superiority on the scoreboard.

Captain Brian Ennis took his tally of converted frees to three, and Dalton, Adrian Kenny and Stephen Husband all accounted for scores as the 'Hill led 1-7 to 1-4 at the break.

That advantage doubled within nine minutes of the restart following further points from Barry Dardis, Michéal Byrne and another free from Ennis.

At that stage it seemed as if the 'Hill would pull further away and record a comfortable win, but Na Fianna had other ideas and dug deep to come storming back into contention.

Centre back and captain Michael Foley started the revival with an inspirational score and Shane and Dean Barrett, Daniel Queeney and Conor Downey all added further points before Shane Barrett, from a free, tied the game up at 1-10 apiece. Na Fianna had the momentum at that stage, but missed opportunities ultimately proved costly.

Summerhill eventually re-established their authority and Rispin ended their 16-minute scoring drought with the lead point to help his side on their way to their seventh senior Keegan Cup success.

SUMMERHILL: T McDonnell; P Jennings, C Young, W Ryan; P Geraghty, A Lyons, S Husband 0-1; C Gillespie, M Byrne 0-1, (1f); D Larkin 1-0, B Ennis 0-4, (4f), A Kenny 0-2; P Rispin 0-1, S Dalton 0-2, B Dardis 0-1. Subs: K Ryan for Dardis (48), R Hatton 0-1 for Husband (53), S Kennedy for Rispin (56).

NA FIANNA: S Geraghty; D Bailey, C Cosgrave, J Baldwin; M Farley, M Foley 0-1, D Hendrick 0-2; O Lewis, J Queeney; B Queeney, D Queeney 0-2, C Downey 0-1; S Barrett 0-3, (3f), T Cosgrave, D McDonagh 1-0. Subs: D Barrett 0-1 for B Queeney (h-t), H Silke for Downey (58), M Collins for Farley (60).

REFEREE: P Nelis: (KIlmainham)

Drogheda Independent

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