Rathoath bask in the glory of maiden title
GAA Fairyhouse Steel Meath SFC Final: Ratoath 3-15 Summerhill 2-13
The 'numbers game' that has become the dominant factor in Meath club football in recent years and fast tracked teams to ultimate glory was further emphasised as Ratoath stormed to their first ever SFC title at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.
The commuter-belt town which has swelled in population in a relatively short period of time was this week basking in glory after winning the Keegan Cup in their first ever final appearance.
Ratoath were only crowned junior champions in 2012 and were intermediate winners in 2015 and they could well be set for a extended spell of dominance following this impressive showing as they brushed aside the challenge of an experience Summerhill who were suffering the agony of a final defeat for the third successive year.
It was Ratoath second championship success of the year coming after the Junior B title win a couple of weeks ago.
This was an emphatic a victory that any team could wish for and Ratoath were much more convincing than the five point margin suggests. There was little signs of first time nerves from the winners who quickly recovered from the shock of the concession of a goal in the opening minute to dominate proceedings.
Despite their dream start Summerhill were unable to match Ratoath's zest all over the pitch and the eventual winners were relentless throughout in their pursuit of glory and were never seriously troubled after they rattled in three first half goals and led 3-7 to 1-6 at half-time.
The 'Hill had few answers to the probing and guile of the Wallace brothers, Joey who was named man-of-the-match, and his brother Eamon, Bryan McMahon and Daithi McGowan in the Ratoath attack. Keith McCabe and Ben McGowan dominated midfield for long spells while a tight marking defence frustrated Summerhill's efforts following a shaky opening.
There was a sensational start to proceedings with Kevin Ryan firing in a goal for Summerhill after 18 seconds, bettering his semi-final feat when he netted after 25 seconds in the win over Simonstown.
However Ratoath were unfazed by that blistering start and were back level when Eamon Wallace converted from the penalty spot following a foul on Daithi McGowan.
The first of three opening half points from Joey Wallace gave Ratoath a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Conor Rooney then struck for goal number two after brushing off the challenge of 'Hill keeper Tony McDonnell following a pass from McMahon on 10 minutes.
Summerhill, with points from five different players gradually closed the gap and were back to within two points after 20 minutes. However they were always struggling to keep pace and only added another point, from a Barry Dardis free, for the remainder of the half. Ratoath finished with a brace of points from Joey Wallace, a Daithi McGowan goal and their final point from Conor Rooney.
Daithi McGowan and McMahon stretched the lead on the restart before Summerhill staged a mini revival with four successive points in as many minutes, leaving it 3-9 to 1-10. Barry Dardis (three) and Sean Dalton were on target during that brief spell of dominance.
Eamon Wallace got Ratoath back on track with a point following a patient build up at the three quarter mark. McMahon converted a free, Eamon Wallace struck a great inspirational score, Daithi McGowan found the target from a 46-metre free and the lead eventually stretched to 10 points, after Rooney shot his side's final score on 53 minutes.
The game was in added time when Ross Ryan booted a loose ball to the net for a consolation goal and Barry Dardis eventually took his tally of points to seven before the finish for a very disappointing Summerhill. It was too little too late though as Ratoath were crowned worthy champions.
It will be interesting to see if the Meath standard bearers can carry their rich vein of form into the provincial championship when they take on Westmeath kingpins Garrycastle on Sunday, November 10th.
RATOATH: Shane Duffy; Sean Brazil, Conor McGill, Ben Wyer; Ciaran O Fearraigh, Gavin McGowan, Jack Gillespie; Keith McCabe, Ben McGowan; Eamon Wallace 1-3 (1-0 pen), Conor Rooney 1-2, Daithi McGowan 1-2 (2f); Joey Wallace 0-3, Cian O'Brien, Bryan McMahon 0-5 (3f). Subs: Emmet Boyle for O Fearraigh (BC 42), Darragh Kelly for B McGowan (45), Brian O'Connor for D McGowan (53), Conall Ahearne for O'Brien (56), Jack McGowan for Rooney (56), Andrew Gerrard for G McGowan (59),
SUMMERHILL: Tony McDonnell; Padraig Jennings, Ronan Ryan, John Lavelle; Padhraig Geraghty 0-1, Ross Ryan 1-0, John Keane; Diarmuid McCabe 0-1, Davy Dalton; David Larkin 0-1, Paul Larkin, Kevin Ryan 1-1, Liam Shaw 0-1, Barry Dardis 0-7 (6f), Sean Dalton 0-1. Subs: Micheál Byrne for K Ryan (32), Conor Frayne for Shaw (40), William Ryan for P Larkin (46).
REF: David Gough (Slane)