Summerhill spring surprise as O'Mahonys exit tamely

Story by Fergal Lynch

Wednesday, 24th August, 2011 4:57pm

Summerhill spring surprise as O'Mahonys exit tamely

Gary O'Brien in possession for Navan O'Mahonys at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.

Sound structures are built on solid foundations and when Stephen Kennedy bagged two goals inside the opening five minutes Summerhill had laid the platform for their shock SFC quarter-final victory over hot favourites Navan O'Mahonys at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.

This was Kennedy's first appearance of the campaign. Frustrated with the game after the disappointment of last year's journey the talented attacker sought greener pastures in America, but with the summer coming to an end he returned home.

Manager Declan McCabe threw him in at the deep end and after failing to score a goal since their opening round win over Trim, Summerhill, and Kennedy, bagged two inside the opening five minutes as O'Mahonys were stunned and left chasing the game.

Those quick-fire goals came after a David Larkin point just 19 seconds into this enthralling contest. Those scores boosted Summerhill to a seven-point cushion.

That early advantage came in handy when O'Mahonys started to get the upperhand in the second-half. As the third-quarter came to a close Summerhill's lead was reduced to the minimum.

O'Mahonys were on the front foot with Mark Ward starting to exert a growing influence around midfield.

However, Summerhill settled again. They recovered from their slump and pulled clear to stun an O'Mahonys side that had emptied their bench in an attempt to quell the opposition.

This Summerhill performance came right out of the blue. They were exceptional early in the campaign when defeating Trim, Blackhall Gaels and, to a lesser extent, Oldcastle. Subsequent defeats by Simonstown and Wolfe Tones suggested a slump.

Then came last Sunday. The performance was as good as any Summerhill have produced over the last five years and the outcome of it all is a re-match with Wolfe Tones for a place in the Keegan Cup final on the first Sunday in October.

"I am delighted with the win, but we have to be careful not to get carried away because it is only a quarter-final after all. Winning this game will stand for nothing at the end of the year if we don't go on and build from this. We now need to win a semi-final and a county final or this won't be worth a damn," McCabe told the Meath Chronicle.

"We went out to win against Wolfe Tones in the group stages, but it just didn't happen for us. We don't go out not to win. We made up our minds to give this game everything because we knew if we didn't we would be out of the championship and we'll have to do the same the next day.

"The early goals helped and they were the difference throughout. We had a high work rate against a very good O'Mahonys side and I think we deserved to win. We won a lot of breaking ball through the middle and all over the field, we worked hard to make this win happen," concluded the Summerhill manager.

It was a baffling performance from an O'Mahonys side that so much was expected from. The deployment of Kevin Reilly as a target man at full-forward didn't reap dividends as he was well marshalled by the Summerhill defence.

Apart from a brief spell in the third-quarter the O'Mahonys midfield were eclipsed by the excellent Conor Gillespie, Micheál Byrne and Brian Ennis.

The much vaunted O'Mahonys attack managed just three points from play with the impeccable Jake Regan providing most of the inspiration from frees.

Some of the O'Mahonys shooting was dreadful and they rarely created a goal chance until Cormac McGuinness was denied by a superb save from Tony McDonnell seven minutes from the end.

It was Summerhill's day. They fought and foraged for every ball and made life difficult for O'Mahonys. In contrast to O'Mahonys, only two of their tally came from frees with Adrian Kenny, David Larkin and Kennedy excelling.

It was Larkin's point that set the ball rolling and three minutes later Kennedy fisted an Ennis centre to the net. A minute later Kennedy had the ball in the net again from Larkin's pass and finished superbly.

Regan's accuracy from frees kept O'Mahonys ticking over, but Summerhill were still 2-3 to 0-3 clear 12 minutes before the break after Michael Gorman landed a massive score.

Darragh Smyth had a tame goal chance easily stopped by McDonnell, but a brace of points from Paddy Smyth and Regan (free) closed the gap to 0-5 to 2-3. Kenny and Regan, with another free, traded scores before the break to leave Summerhill with a 2-4 to 0-6 interval cushion.

O'Mahonys got their wish for a bright start to the second-half when Smyth, Ward and Regan pointed to reduce the deficit to the minimum inside four minutes.

Alan Forde thought he had grabbed an equaliser, but the umpires ruled it wide and Summerhill responded with Paul Rispin putting two points between the sides again.

A second outstanding score from Ward was followed by a soft free from Ennis and when Stephen Bray was introduced after another converted Regan free, O'Mahonys were moving in the right direction.

However, Summerhill settled again and rattled over points from Gillespie, Kennedy, Larkin and Kenny in a six-minute spell to leave O'Mahonys with a mountain to climb, trailing 0-11 to 2-10.

Goals were on the Brews Hill side's agenda, but they found McDonnell in top form and their only reward was a late free from Regan.

Summerhill - T McDonnell; D Dalton, C Young, W Ryan; S Husband, R Hatton, M Gorman (0-1); M Byrne, C Gillespie (0-1); D Larkin (0-2), B Ennis (0-2 frees), M Kennedy; P Rispin (0-1), S Kennedy (2-1), A Kenny (0-2). Subs - C Malone for Husband 40 mins, G Rispin for P Rispin 56m, K Lyons for Gorman 60m.

Navan O'Mahonys - M Brennan; S O'Toole, A Rogers, I Matthews; D Maguire, C McGuinness, G O'Brien; M Ward (0-2), D Moran; P Smyth (0-1), B Regan, D Smyth (0-1); J Regan (0-8 seven frees), K Reilly, A Forde. Subs - S MacGabhann for Rogers 30 mins, S Bray for Forde 44m, B Dillon for Maguire 46m, Forde for Moran 53m, S McKeigue for P Smyth 55m.

Referee - Brendan Darby (Ballinabrackey).

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