Summerhill win Keegan Cup in replay

Story by Fergal Lynch

Thursday, 20th October, 2011 9:31am

Summerhill win Keegan Cup in replay

Tony McDonnell raising the Keegan Cup

After a quarter of a century of heartbreak and near misses the Keegan Cup and Meath SFC title rests once more in Summerhill following their thrilling extra-time victory over Dunshaughlin at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday afternoon.

It won't go down as a classic, but Summerhill will not care about the manner of their win. They got the job done and it was down to their outstanding spirit, excellent character and never-say-die attitude that kept them in contention and eventually pushed them over the winning line.

The newly-crowned champions only played in fits and starts, but it was the economy of their play that proved vital as they punished Dunshaughlin for a tired finish to normal time and a slow start to extra-time.

Dunshaughlin will reflect on a couple of incidents close to the end that might have pushed them over the line.

They probably should have been awarded a close-range free when leading by a point in injury-time, but instead referee David Gough waved away their appeals. Summerhill broke and won a free when Crimmins fouled Conor Gillespie and the nerveless Micheal Byrne stroked over the 20-metre kick to force extra-time and Dunshaughlin's best chance was gone.

However, they can have few complaints. Summerhill were marginally the better team despite nine first-half wides, 14 in total.

They learned more from the drawn encounter than Gary Farrelly's charges and put those lessons to good effect as they snuffed out the pace of Cathal O'Dwyer and Conor Devereux and limited the attacking threat of Trevor Dowd and Niall Murphy.

Summerhill did struggle at midfield in the second-half as John Crimmins and Ray Maloney dominated, but when they had to dig deep it was Byrne and Gillespie that won the dirty ball and relieved many dangerous situations.

Adrian Kenny deservedly claimed the man-of-the-match award with his breathless display. He produced six magical and priceless points from play and was unmarkable as both Alastair Doyle and Michael Aherne found out. Kenny has had his opportunities with Meath before, but manager Seamus McEnaney is sure to come calling again.

While Kenny's scoring exploits earned rave reviews it was the outstanding defensive work of Richie Hatton, Caolan Young and especially the magnificent Davy Dalton that laid the foundations for Summerhill's success.

Much of Dunshaughlin's gameplan centred around the pace and excellence of O'Dwyer and Devereux, but Dalton hardly gave O'Dwyer a sniff of the action while Hatton and Young also impressed.

Dunshaughlin can be proud of their efforts - Caoimhin King was once again superb, Crimmins and Maloney also impressed, Kenny McTigue, Toolan and Tommy Johnson also caused problems, but they couldn't contain the superb play of Kenny and Co.

Kenny signalled his intentions inside a minute when he capitalised on Hatton's excellent rob off Doyle to open the scoring for Summerhill.

Four minutes later his excellent off-the-ball movement gave him the time and space to receive a pass from Gillespie and double his side's advantage.

Stephen Kennedy went close to registering the first goal when he connected with David Larkin's sideline, but the effort drifted wide.

However, Kenny continued to torment Dunshaughlin as he gave new marker Aherne the run around to push Summerhill 0-3 to 0-0 clear after nine minutes.

Then Summerhill went into their shell again. A foul by Gillespie on Toolan allowed the Dunshaughlin man to open his side's account, but Summerhill restored their three-point cushion at the end of the opening quarter when a Brian Ennis centre broke to Byrne and he made no mistake from close range.

All of Summerhill's good early work came undone a minute later when they allowed Murphy to embark on a defence-splitting run. He then found Johnson unmarked and the Dunshaughlin corner-forward powered low to the left corner to bring his side level, 1-1 to 0-4.

Summerhill looked deflated by that setback. Their attacks became aimless and defensively they looked frail.

They seemed destined to fail to take advantage of the strong wind in their favour until they found the scoring boots again in the last three minutes of the half.

Kenny got the show back on the road with his side's first point in 14 minutes. Larkin put two points between the teams with a superb score and Ennis ensured a 0-7 to 1-1 interval advantage when he converted a free.

Dunshaughlin set about putting their wind advantage to good effect when Young had to foul Murphy and Dowd converted the simple free inside the opening minute of the second-half.

It took Summerhill until the 39th minute to add to their tally with Byrne tapping over a free after King handled on the ground. Then Dunshaughlin seemed to take a major step towards securing the title.

Another Dowd free was followed by points from Johnson and Crimmins as they drew level before the end of the third-quarter.

Dowd's third successful free gave them the lead for the first time with 11 minutes remaining and when Maloney doubled that advantage Summerhill looked beaten.

However, Summerhill's spirit was never in question. In a scrappy final 10 minutes they cut the deficit to the minimum with Kenny on target again.

A foul by Crimmins on Gillespie gifted Byrne with the equaliser, but there was still more drama as Summerhill had a late '45'. Kennedy opted to take it short and the referee David Gough blew for extra-time, much to the annoyance of the Summerhill side.

That frustration quickly turned to delight as Summerhill took the wind advantage for the first period of extra-time and made the decisive break to victory.

Kenny underlined his man-of-the-match performance with his sixth point and three minutes later David Larkin scored one of the points of the game to make it 0-12 to 1-7.

Byrne brought his tally to four points when he gathered and pointed after a sustained passage of scrappy play and Gillespie secured a 0-14 to 1-7 extra-time interval lead.

It was backs to the wall in the second period of extra-time for Summerhill. Eoin Hegarty gave Dunshaughlin hope with a point after only 30 seconds and when O'Dwyer finally got free of Dalton to grab his only score it looked as if Dunshaughlin would have time to recover.

However, Summerhill still pushed forward. Kennedy was denied a goal by the brilliance of Ronan Gogan and Bobby Lyons also squandered two late chances.

O'Dwyer went close to snatching a winning goal, but Tony McDonnell stood strong to ensure he climbed the steps of the old stand to raise the cup in the name of champions Summerhill.

SCORERS

Summerhill - A Kenny 0-6; M Byrne 0-4 two frees; D Larkin 0-2; B Ennis 0-1 free; C Gillespie 0-1;

Dunshaughlin -T Johnson 1-1; T Dowd 0-3 frees; F Toolan 0-1 free; J Crimmins 0-1; R Maloney 0-1; E Hegarty 0-1; C O'Dwyer 0-1.

THE TEAMS

Summerhill - Tony McDonnell; Davy Dalton, Caolan Young, Willie Ryan; Stephen Husband, Richie Hatton, Michael Gorman; Paul Comey, Conor Gillespie; David Larkin, Brian Ennis, Micheal Byrne; Paul Rispin, Stephen Kennedy, Adrian Kenny. Subs - Ciaran Malone for Husband 23mins, Sean Dalton for Gorman 42m, Bobby Lyons for Comey 52m; extra-time - Paul Larkin for Rispin, Gary Rispin for Malone.

Dunshaughlin - Ronan Gogan; Alastair Doyle, Kenny McTigue, Michael Ahern; Anthony Johnson, Caoimhin King, Denis Kealy; John Crimmins, Ray Maloney; Fergus Toolan, Trevor Dowd, Conor Devereux; Tommy Johnson, Niall Murphy, Cathal O'Dwyer. Subs - Niall Kelly for T Johnson 59m, Tadhg O Duishlaine for Dowd 60m; extra-time - Eoin Hegarty for Toolan, Richie Kealy for A Johnson, Kevin Ward for King.

REFEREE

David Gough (Slane).

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