Lowndes has final say as Dunboyne claim Royal spoils
Dunboyne1-11 Summerhill 0-9
The celebrations of the third senior county title in their history were just getting underway, but foremost in the minds of those connected to St Peter's, Dunboyne was their clubmate Sean Cox, who faces long road to recovery after being attacked at a Liverpool match.
Captain and man of the match Cathal Finn name-checked their former chairman in his acceptance speech, describing Cox's fight to recover as "inspirational."
Thankfully, there were happier stories connected to the Dunboyne win. It was difficult not to admire the durability of David Gallagher, who collected a third medal, 20 years after his first.
Gallagher played in goals as an 18-year-old when the club won their first senior title in 1998, when current Meath manager Andy McEntee was playing. That 1998 success was a landmark for the club as they had operated in the junior grade less than a decade earlier.
Gallagher is the last link to that breakthrough team and is 38 now. However, he put in a tireless display, playing 53 minutes at midfield as they deservedly secured the Keegan Cup in near perfect conditions in Navan's Pairc Tailteann.
There was a story too in the man who finally settled a tight, if at times poor, affair.
Stuart Lowndes is the brother of Dublin footballer Eric, and he himself holds the distinction of having played in the O'Byrne Cup for both Meath and the Dubs, and yesterday he was the game breaker.
With Dunboyne leading by the minimum and 55 minutes on the clock, he pounced on some hesitancy in the Summerhill defence as they failed to deal with a high, dropping delivery.
Given a clean sight of goal, Lowndes blasted to the roof of Tony McDonnell's net, securing the title for Dunboyne, who a couple of weeks earlier also secured the junior title.
Dunboyne won't care but this will not go down as a classic. Aside from Lowndes' strike, there were precious few goal chances to speak of.
At half-time the sides had managed just five points from play between them.
The first half did not set the pulse racing. Dunboyne grabbed the first three points of the day and looked to settle into the final well; Summerhill only opened their account after 15 minutes when Barry Dardis converted a free.
Last year's beaten finalists started to find their groove, with the long ball reaping dividends on occasion. When Sean Dalton tapped over on 21 minutes, they moved into the lead for the first time.
Both sides were struggling for any real fluency, and a free for each side, from Robbie McCarthy and Dardis, saw Summerhill take a 0-5 to 0-4 lead in at the break.
Dunboyne kicked the first three points after the restart with McCarthy in good form from placed balls as they started to take control around the middle third. However they couldn't put any real daylight between the teams and they were tied at 0-9 each with just over ten minutes to play after Dardis converted a free.
Substitute Cathal Lacey edged Ciaron Byrne's men back in front before Lowndes struck and McCarthy finished the job with a fisted point to secure the honours.
Lowndes grew up playing for the St Peregrine's club in Dublin but switched allegiance to Dunboyne.
"My dad is a Dunboyne man, my family are all Dunboyne, my uncle is a diehard who is here today so it's a very proud day for him to see myself and Craig. So it's great to get the win and to get the trophy home," Lowndes
"It's a nice story to tell sometime. It's been a great journey. It's been a tough two or three years to get here, a bit of heartbreak along the way but we got over the line today.
"It was kind of score for score today, it wasn't the most free flowing game of football ever. It was almost free for free at times there."
Of his goal, Lowndes said: "I was playing right half-forward, I just drifted in from the wing, the ball seemed to hang in the air forever and thankfully it broke into my path and I put my foot through it and it hit the roof of the net and turned out to be the difference in the end.
"Summerhill were in the final last year so they've been here before, that was the key thing today for us, only one of our players had played in a final before, so it was a nervy affair and that goal just gave us a bit of daylight with six or seven minutes to go and we held out."
SCORERS - Dunboyne: R McCarthy 0-7 (5fs), S Lowndes 1-0, D Lenihan (f), D McEntee, L Byrne, C Lacey 0-1 each. Summerhill: B Dardis 0-4 (4fs), D Larkin 0-2, S Dalton, P Geraghty, M Byrne 0-1 each.
Dunboyne - C Flynn; S Ryan, S McEntee, C O'Dwyer; C Finn, G McCoy, S Lavin; D Gallagher, N Jones; S Lowndes, D McEntee, L Byrne; R McCarthy, R Jones, D Lenihan. Subs: C Lowndes for S Ryan, C Lacey for D McEntee (both 45), C Doran for Byrne (47), S Comiskey for Gallagher (53), J Donnelly for N Jones (58), J Scannell for O'Dwyer (62).
Summerhill - T McDonnell; I Hughes, C Young, J Lavelle; Ross Ryan, W Ryan, P Geraghty; M Byrne, J Keane; K Ryan, D Larkin, C Devlin; S Dalton, B Dardis, D Dalton. Subs: Ronan Ryan for Lavelle (35), C Gillespie for Keane (45), S Husband for Devlin (50), P Larkin for S Dalton (55), L Shaw for K Ryan (56).
Ref - C McManus