Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ennis keeps level head in Royal duel


Summerhill's Paul Rispin in
action against Michael Ahern of
Dunshaughlin in the Meath SFC
final at Pairc Tailteann yesterday
Summerhill's Paul Rispin in action against Michael Ahern of Dunshaughlin in the Meath SFC final at Pairc Tailteann yesterday
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

DRAMA until the end in Navan but, ultimately, no winner of the Keegan Cup as a Brian Ennis free for Summerhill from in front of the posts secured another trip to Pairc Tailteann on Sunday week.

Dunshaughlin held a one-point lead as the clock ticked into the first of three minutes of added time when one of their most experienced players, substitute Richie Kealy, played the ball on the ground as they scrambled to clear their lines.

Referee Cormac Reilly brought the free in closer for dissent before Ennis converted and there was time for one more attack. Summerhill won possession from the kick-out and intelligently worked centre-back Richie Hatton into a shooting position only for his left-footed shot to fade wide.

Meath manager Seamus McEnaney and his selectors, including the newly appointed Graham Geraghty, were watching on as both sides struggled with the very greasy conditions early on.


A draw always looked a possibility from midway through the first half and Summerhill's 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 11 minutes turned out to be the only time there was more than two points between the sides all afternoon.

However, Dunshaughlin were starting to get to grips with the slippery conditions and outscored their opponents by 0-5 to 0-1 for the remainder of the half.

Cathal O'Dwyer's hard chasing across the goalmouth was rewarded when he forced an error and struck a point from a difficult angle while Niall Murphy, Fergus Toolan, Conor Deveraux and Trevor Dowd all opened their accounts.

Summerhill's only response in the second quarter came from David Larkin as they headed into the break one point in arrears (0-6 to 0-5), with each of the 11 scores hit by different players.

The first half saw no clear sight on goal but Dunshaughlin fashioned a half-chance immediately after the restart. However, corner-forward O'Dwyer, who finished the day with three points and was the game's top scorer from play, elected to fist over the bar from a narrow angle rather than attempt a shot on goal.

Ennis cut the gap to the minimum with his second free shortly afterwards, before first Ronan Gogan and then Caoimhin King came to Dunshaughlin's rescue to deny Summerhill what would probably have been the game's decisive score.

Summerhill full-forward Stephen Kennedy batted a long centre into Ennis' path and his initial shot was parried well by goalkeeper Gogan. The rebound fell to David Larkin, but his effort was brilliantly turned on to the post by the recovering King.

That was a rare Summerhill attack in that period as Dunshaughlin seemed to have the edge in the personal battles on the restart.

Ray Maloney and John Crimmins got to grips with their counterparts around midfield, while the influence of King grew by the minute as Dunshaughlin looked towards their first championship since they completed the three-in-a-row back in 2002.

In this period, the reliable free-taking of Ennis was crucial in the conditions and he did well to recover his composure after miscuing badly just before the break while Conor Gillespie also landed a huge point as Summerhill edged back into the lead midway through the second half.

At this stage, Dunshaughlin called for the cavalry and sprung former Meath players Richie Kealy and Niall Kelly from the bench and it seemed to settle them once more as they gained a strong foothold. A point from the impressive Conor Deveraux and a Trevor Dowd free put them into the lead with normal time all but elapsed before Ennis' late intervention ensured there would be one more day.

And while Summerhill came from behind to earn a replay, their manager Declan McCabe, brother of former Cavan All Star Dermot, was far from happy with his side's performance.

"There were players out there who didn't do themselves justice and now they know what it takes to get a result," he said. "To do that, you've to work throughout the field. We didn't do that enough, Dunshaughlin did.

"The conditions were something that was always going to be a factor. We never got to grips with them and we seemed not to be anticipating it earlier on. I thought Dunshaughlin were hungrier to get to the ball. They were a point up with two minutes to go so at least we came back to rescue the game and it's still very much alive for us."

Dunshaughlin manager Gary Farrelly, who like his counterpart hails from Cavan, has turned their season around brilliantly after suffering a 15-point defeat at the hands of Navan O'Mahonys in the group stages. He too accepted the draw was a fair outcome.

"There were a couple of decisions that could have gone either way at the end. I think it is fair enough that it was a draw. It would have been hard on either team to lose."

The throw-in time for the replay on Sunday week will be confirmed in the coming days. The Meath champions are not in Leinster club championship action until November 13 when they take on their Dublin counterparts.

SCORERS -- Summerhill: B Ennis 0-5f, C Gillespie 0-2, A Kenny, P Rispin, D Larkin 0-1 each. Dunshaughlin: C O'Dwyer 0-3, T Dowd (2f), C Deveraux 0-2 each, N Murphy, F Toolan, D Kealy 0-1 each.

Summerhill -- T McDonnell 7; D Dalton 7, C Young 7, W Ryan 7; S Husband 6, R Hatton 6, M Gorman 7; M Byrne 6, C Gillespie 8; D Larkin 7, B Ennis 7, M Kennedy 7; P Rispin 7, S Kennedy 7, A Kenny 6. Subs: B Lyons 6 for M Kennedy (37 mins), P Larkin 6 for P Rispin (50), C Malone for Husband (55).

Dunshaughlin -- R Gogan 7; A Doyle 6, K McTigue 6, M Ahern 7; A Johnson 6, C King 8, D Kealy 7; J Crimmins 7, R Maloney 8; F Toolan 7, T Dowd 6, C Deveraux 7; T Johnson 6, N Murphy 7, C O'Dwyer 8. Subs: R Kealy 6 for Murphy (47), N Kelly for Johnson (51), M Reilly for Toolan (57), T O Duishlaine for Deveraux (60).

Ref -- C Reilly (St Mary's).

Irish Independent

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