Relegation-threatened Cilles see red after loss
Fairyhouse Steel Meath SFC: Wolfe Tones 2-15 Colmcille's 1-13
Last year's quarter-finalists St Colmcille's could have a relegation battle on their hands following this third successive defeat in Group C of the SFC at Stamullen on Sunday evening.
However they could feel rightly aggrieved about this latest reversal after having Robbie McCloskey red-carded by referee Sean Gahan at a crucial stage in what was a keenly fought encounter.
The sides were level at 1-12 apiece when McCloskey saw red for a high challenge on Thomas O'Reilly with five minutes of normal time remaining. However, there didn't seem to be any malice meant by the Cille's man and O'Reilly was fit to resume following treatment.
Tones seized on their numerical advantage and outscored their opponents 1-3 to 0-1 from there to the finish to record a merited victory.
This game was orginally scheduled for the previous evening but had to be deferred as the Walterstown pitch was unplayable. The 24-hour wait was well worth it, however, as both sides served up some great passages of play as well as excellent score-taking.
Sarán Ó Fionnagáin opened Tones' account in the very first attack, but the seasiders responded in fine style with a succession of points to lead 0-5 to 0-1 after 12 minutes. The opening four points for the Cille's came from frees converted by Conor O'Byrne.
The Tones were back in contention when Fiachra Ward had the easy task of finishing to the net after Niall O'Reilly created the opening on 13 minutes to level the sides.
Points from Fiachra Ward, Stephen Sheppard and Thomas O'Reilly left Tony Kearney's men three clear by the 17th minute. Cille's responded well with excellent scores from James Conlon, Graham Reilly and Ciaran Kelly. Reilly's second point of the half left the sides level - 0-9 to 1-6 - at half-time.
The place-kicking of wing back Caolan Ward was instrumental in Tones re-establishing their three-point advantage in the third quarter. A Stephen Sheppard point eventually put them four clear and at that stage they seemed to have stymied the St Colmcille's challenge.
But keeper Andrew Beakey converted a long-range free to reduce the deficit and then on 46 minutes a Conor O'Byrne run ended with Tomás Ó Hoistin rifling a shot past Tones keeper Trevor Browne to the corner of the net.
Cille's were back in front after keeper Beakey hit another wonderful free between the posts, but that lead was short-lived as Stephen Sheppard pointed to leave it 1-12 apiece.
Then came the dismissal of McCloskey and Caolan Ward pointed the resultant free kick. Cian Ward, with a magnificent effort, doubled his side's lead and it got even better for Tones as Fiachra Ward bundled the ball over the goal-line after his initial effort from close range had been blocked.
James Conlon converted a close-range for Cille's deep into added time and in the last action of the match Cian Ward lofted over another point from distance to maintain Tones pursuit of a knockout spot.
WOLFE TONES: Trevor Browne; Conor Sheppard, Shane Glynn, Robert White; Brughach Ó Fionnagáin, Niall O'Reilly, Caolan Ward 0-4f; Cian O'Neill, Alan Callaghan; Gary McFadden, Sarán Ó Fionnagáin 0-1, Thomas O'Reilly 0-1; Fiachra Ward 2-1, Stephen Sheppard 0-3, Cian Ward 0-5 (2f).
ST COLMCILLE'S: Andrew Beakey 0-2f; Tomás Ó Hoistin 1-0, Carl Mullen, Ciaran Ward; Stephen Breen, Cathal Hilliard, Jeff Kavanagh 0-1; Conor O'Byrne 0-4f, Robbie McCloskey; Shane Crilly, Ciaran Kelly 0-1, Danny McMahon; Ben Brennan, Graham Reilly 0-3, James Conlon 0-2 (1f). Subs: Ruairi O'Grady for Crilly 12 mins, Crilly for Ward 20m, Ferdia Quigley for Kelly 40m.
REF: Sean Gahan (Ratoath)