Sunday 21 January 2018

McCabe lays down law to stir Summerhill from slumber

Summerhill 2-13 Newtown 1-13

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

A total of 16 points usually wins football games at this time of year, but it wasn't enough for Louth champions Newtown Blues in Drogheda.

A total of 16 points usually wins football games at this time of year, but it wasn't enough for Louth champions Newtown Blues in Drogheda.

That switches the focus to their their Royal conquerors Summerhill, who produced a performance of sufficiently high quality to suggest they are genuine contenders for Leinster honours.

The draw hasn't been exactly kind to them, for after negotiating a tricky away assignment yesterday, they will be on the road again on Sunday week when they play St Vincent's (Dublin) in the semi-final in Parnell Park.

Summerhill were well beaten by Dublin champions St Brigid's in the Leinster first round two years ago but seem much better equipped this time. They yielded a 2-13 return yesterday and with a little more composure would have posted an even higher score.

Still, for all their movement and energy in attack and around midfield, Summerhill were hanging on grimly at the end, having to defend against a last-minute '45' as Newtown fought desperately to keep their campaign alive.

Stephen Moonan floated the kick into the Summerhill square where, after a brief flurry of activity in the crowded goalmouth, the ball was booted wide.

The final whistle sounded almost immediately afterwards, much to the relief of Summerhill, who should never have found themselves in such a tight call.

Paul Rispin's goal in the 41st minute gave them a five-point lead (2-9 to 1-7) but they were out-scored by 0-6 to 0-3 over the next 15 minutes before Brian Ennis put them three points ahead in stoppage-time.

Newtown deserve great credit for the manner in which they battled back after being hit for 1-5 in the opening 11 minutes of the second half. They led by 1-7 to 1-4 after a high-tempo first half but found Summerhill a much more driven force early in the second period.

Midfielders Conor Gillespie and Micheal Byrne built up a powerful momentum which ensured that most of the action was in Newtown's half.

Summerhill manager Declan McCabe had laid down the law at half-time, telling his players that unless they started the second half smartly, they'd be in big trouble.

Three points may not appear a big margin but McCabe's rationale was that on a sticky surface, it can be difficult to peg back any lead. So if Newtown had tacked on a few points early in the second period it might have all been too much for Summerhill.

"We needed to do something very, very quickly and thankfully the lads grabbed it around the middle and we got a few quick scores," he said. "The turnover goal (Summerhill's second) was the winning of it. We had a cushion from there on but you still can never be sure, as we saw near the end."

If Newtown had been more clinical in their finishing – especially with goal opportunities – the result might have been different. Summerhill goalkeeper Tony McDonnell made a fine save from Andy McDonnell in the 11th minute and Newtown had two further goal chances early in the second half but got nothing from either of them.

First, McDonnell saved a flicked effort from Robert Carr and then the Summerhill goal survived a frantic scramble in which the ball pinged off various bodies a few yards from the line. Summerhill missed some good chances too on a day when both attacks caused problems for their markers.

Newtown made the first significant break when Brian Kermode, who did well in the first half, scored a goal in the eighth minute, but Adrian Kenny replied with a Summerhill goal in the 17th.

They led by two points after 20 minutes but Newtown scored five unanswered points before the interval to lead by three.


Summerhill's early second-half blitz proved vital, giving them a lead which left Newtown with a massive challenge. They took it on bravely but just couldn't rack up enough scores to come back.

McCabe was delighted with the more positive aspects of his side's performance, in particular a tally of 2-13. "It's a good score. 1-8 to 1-10 wins a lot of games at this time of year," he said.

Summerhill achieved their ultimate objective and will be confident of improving next time out. "You believe you're ready for a provincial game but you're not. It's at a different level," said McCabe.

"You're playing the champions from another county. It's not a continuation of where you left off in the county final. It's a new experience."

In Summerhill's case, a happy one.

Scorers – Summerhill: B Ennis 0-5 (4fs), P Rispin 1-1, A Kenny 1-0, M Byrne 0-3, S Dalton 0-2, B Dardis, C Gillespie 0-1 each. Newtown Blues: C Judge 0-6 (4f), B Kermode 1-0, H McGinn, R Carr 0-2 each, J Kermode, K Lynch, S Moonan (f) 0-1 each.

Summerhill – T McDonnell; W Ryan, C Young, P Jennings; P Geraghty, A Lyons, S Husband; C Gillespie, M Byrne; D Larkin, B Ennis, A Kenny; P Rispin, S Dalton, B Dardis. Subs: R Hatton for Jennings (h-t), D Dalton for Husband (57), K Ryan for Rispin (61).

Newtown Blues – C Barton; A Tinley, T Costello, N Costello; S Moonan, E Judge, J Murray; K Lynch, J Kermode; B Sharkey, H McGinn, A McDonnell; C Judge, B Kermode, R Carr. Subs: D Moore for Murray (25), C Branigan for E Judge (38), D Kierans for J Kermode (53).

Ref – F Kelly (Longford).

Irish Independent

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