independent

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Slane force Cship draw

Meath Intermediate Football Championship ST. COLMCILLES ....... 1-10 SLANE .......................... 0-13 UNBEATEN St. Colmcilles had shown skill, fitness and determination in their three clear-cut championship wins to date. They had to produce other strengths though, at Duleek on Friday evening last as they fought to hang on in the closing stages of this competitive IFC tie. The Seasiders eventually lost their 100% record as Slane registered three points in the closing three minutes of the game to snatch a draw.

However it will take much more than skill and the exuberance of youth to win this title and the ‘Cilles showed that they also have the character to match the best teams in the competition.

A combination of poor finishing on Slane’s part and the ability of St. Colmcilles to reply whenever danger seemed imminent should have ensured ‘Cilles fourth win on the trot. Slane though were fighting for their championship lives and they too had character in abundance as they dominated the closing minutes, and points from Declan Kearns in the 60th minute, Eamonn Gibney in the 61st and Kearns again in the 62nd minute ensured that the Village side stay very much in contention for a place in the knockout stages.

Both sides will probably be happy with a draw, but St. Colmcilles will wonder how they let a seven point advantage slip, while Slane will be looking to get plenty of target practise before their next outing after shooting a string of second half wides.

St. Colmcilles started the match as if they were going to steam role the opposition into the ground. With the advantage of the stiff breeze in the opening half they led 1-4 to 0-0 by the 14th minute and were ahead 1-6 to 0-1 after 23 minutes.

It took Slane quite a while to get into the game but they eventually clawed their way back and a late flurry of scores left them just four points adrift at the break, St. Colmcilles leading 1-6 to 0-5.

Fullforward Niall Ronan was outstanding for St. Colmcilles in that opening period, notching five points, two of which came from frees. They were dominant at midfield through the efforts of Enda Grogan and Eoin O’Boyle and were particularly solid in the half-back-line where Neil Dunne, Ian Mullen and Brian Kelly were outstanding.

Midfielder Sarsfield opened their account in the second minute and they received a further boost in the sixth minute when John McKenna converted a penalty following a foul on Niall Ronan. Ronan then kicked the next four points before Declan Kearns eventually opened the Slane tally in the 16th minute. Ronan replied to that score from a free in the 23rd minute but the ‘Cilles failed to register again in the half as Slane struck back with four unanswered points.

Kearns from two frees, and Shane Coyle twice from play were the Slane scorers to leave them with a realistic chance in the second half.

Slane’s dominance in the closing stages of the half stemmed from a tightening in defence where Barry Moore, Stephen Gough, Stephen Carolan and Jonathan Cullen began to shine, Gerry Martyn and Keith Harding came much more into it at midfield and it ensured an improved supply to a forward line that had been starved of possession for much of the opening half hour.

A great point from Alan Reilly, one of their better forwards, gave Slane the perfect start to the second half but the ‘Cilles always seemed to have the knack of replying to a score to keep themselves relatively safe for most of that second period.

Corner forward John McKenna replied immediately to that score and Gibney, Ronan, Kearns and Ronan again all swopped points in that third quarter to leave the Seasiders still four clear going into the final quarter.

Slane though were now proving the dominant force with Martyn outstanding at midfield, and Carolan and Moore little behind him in defence. Their attack was having difficulty in finding the target though, and most of their seven second half wides came in this period.

Eamonn Gibney reduced the deficit to three points in the 49th minute as St. Colmcilles first brought Camin Hall and then Ronan to midfield in an effort to curtail Martyn. Kearns left two between the sides when he pointed with three minutes of normal time remaining but Eoin Sarsfield had a quick reply and that seemed the end of the Slane challenge.

The game was in the 60th minute when Kearns again brought the deficit back to two points and Gibney with goal on his mind, blasted a close range free over the bar a minute later. From the kickout Martyn gained possession at midfield and delivered to Kearns who shot the equaliser, and his seventh point of the game.

Slane had suddenly found the range but as they went for the jugular their progress was halted by the final whistle.

A brief skirmish at full time left a sour taste to what had been a thoroughly enjoyable game of football.

Scorers: St. Colmcilles: Niall Ronan (0-7), John McKenna (1-1), Eoin Sarsfield (0-2).

Slane: Declan Kearns (0-7), Eamonn Gibney (0-3), Shane Coyle (0-2), Alan Reilly (0-1).

St. Colmcilles: B. Morris, S. Black, N. Cooney, P. Collier, N. Dunne, I. Mullen, B. Kelly, E. Grogan, E. Sarsfield, C. Hall, D, Beakey, E. O’Boyle, D. O’Brien, N. Ronan, J. McKenna.

Subs: N. Kerbey for O’Boyle.

Slane: C. Reilly, S. Gough, B. Moore, W. Clarke, P. Martyn, S. Carolan, J. Cullen, G. Martyn, K. Harding, A. Reilly, W. Harding, S. Coyle, D. Kearns, E. Gibney, A. McMenamon.

Subs: C. Wogan for Coyle, G. Kealy for McMenamon.

Referee: N. Martin (St. Mary’s).

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