Thursday 18 October 2018

Champions all of a Syddan !

SYDDAN CAPTAIN Shay Duff holds aloft the Mattie McDonald Cup following his sides victory over St. Patrick’s on Sunday last. Pic: Paul Mohan.
SYDDAN CAPTAIN Shay Duff holds aloft the Mattie McDonald Cup following his sides victory over St. Patrick’s on Sunday last. Pic: Paul Mohan.


Syddan .......................2 - 11

St. Patrick’s .................... 1-10

Syddan have a long and proud tradition in the annals of the GAA in the county and it was that pride which came to the forefront on Sunday last as the men from North Meath staged a momentous rebellion in the second half of this pulsating Intermediate football championship final at Pairc Tailteann, to snatch glory in the most dramatic of fashions.

The name of Duff, Dillon and Claire have been synonymous down the years and they were there again on Sunday along with the likes of Gilsenan, Skelly and McGillic as the glory days returned to the North Meath parish.

This clash provided one of the best ever intermediates deciders as Syddan came back from the dead to inflict yet another agonising defeat on the East Meath outfit.

At half-time no one would have given Syddan a snow balls chance in hell of coming out on top. They were seven points in arrears, 0-3 to 1-7 and struggling in crucial areas of the field. St. Patrick’s went about their task in that opening half in a work man like fashion, calm, confident, assured, and determined to at last lay to rest the ghost that has haunted them throughout the decade.

They were sharper, more aggressive and better balanced all round as they built up a seven point interval lead, this with the advantage of the stiff breeze. However they could never have imagined the shock that was in store for them in the second half. When lesser teams would have accepted their fate and turned their thoughts to next year, Syddan refused to bow and set about the task on hand. They dominated proceedings from the restart and gradually clawed their way back into the match.

Two points apiece from Trevor Gilsenan and Brian Dillon had the deficit to manageable proportions by the 40th minute and Syddan had switched to over drive by the three quarter way stage as Paddy Skelly steered the ball to the net following a fine fetch from Philip Duff.

St. Patrick’s opening point of the second half came in the 48th minute from Martin Kirk, a score which levelled the sides after Trevor Gilsenan had edged Syddan ahead a minute earlier. Gilsenan, with his fourth point of the half put his side ahead again only for Cormac Sullivan to again level.

However by the time David O’ Flaherty scored St. Patrick’s third and final point in the 57th minutes the Syddan supporters were already starting the celebrations. Paddy Skelly with a point, and then Noel McGillic with a great goal from a long range effort, which dipped under the crossbar and past David Mooney following a 30 metre solo run, put the winners in an unassailable position. Gilsenan added another point for good measure to complete the revival.

It was unbelievable stuff from a side that had looked out of sorts in the opening half. Only Stephen and Brian Dillon, Sean Malone and Robbie Claire had played up to form in that opening period. Syddan’s ploy of the long ball into the full-forward line backfired miserably and their last line of attack roved too far outfield and the brilliant Cormac Murphy, Ciaran Russell and David Collier swallowed up whatever came their way.

Elsewhere for St. Patrick’s, Ronan Kearns and Noel Collier were also playing solidly in defence, Cormac Sullivan was edging the midfield exchanges while in attack David O’ Flaherty, a late replacement for the injured Paddy Rothwell, Barry Campbell and Ray Russell were proving too pacy for the Syddan rearguard.

O’ Flaherty from a free, Noel Collier and Barry Campbell were all on target with points for St. Patrick’s before Brian Dillon opened the Syddan account from a free. O’ Flaherty notched a further three points in the half and by the 18th minute the East Meath outfit led 0-6 to 0-2. Sean Malone had earlier pointed for Syddan and Philip Duff registered their only other score of the half in the 23rd minute.

The St. Patrick’s lead was stretched by a Barry Campbell point and it was Campbell again, a minute before the break who found the Syddan net from a sideline ball, which hopped in the goalmouth before crossing the line. That goal would have been enough to break most sides, but not Syddan who at this stage had rearranged their attack.

A shoulder injury picked up in the second quarter greatly restricted Cormac Murphy who switched to attack for a period but resumed at fullback on the restart. Stephen Dillon at centre back was again the driving force for the winners in the second half with Robert Claire also brilliant alongside. However the contribution of the likes of Francis McKenna, Trevor Gilsenan, Paddy Skelly, Joey Dillon and Noel McGillic , all of whom were relatively quiet in the opening half, had a big bearing on the outcome.

Dillon and McGillic at midfield swung matters in that area, while Gilsenan scored a magnificent five points and Skelly also secured crucial scores. Captain Shay Duff also helped turn the tide.

Unfortunately for St. Patrick’s they didn’t have the answers once Syddan turned up the heat, their work rate dropped alarmingly and many seemed to have lost heart long before the final whistle.

The was no denying Syddan a thoroughly deserved victory though and the recipe for success was there for all to see.

After the match Meath Co. Board Chairman Fintan Ginnity presented the Mattie McDonnell Cup to winning captain Shay Duff.