Dunshaughlin shock for Simonstown

Story by Fergal Lynch

Wednesday, 24th August, 2011 4:59pm

Dunshaughlin shock for Simonstown

Action from Saturday night's SFC quarter-final clash at Pairc Tailteann where Simonstown's Michael O'Rourke tussles with Dunshaughlin's Conor Devereux, John Crimmins and Trevor Dowd for possession.

As the Dunshaughlin players bounced back into the Pairc Tailteann dressing room following their pulsating SFC quarter-final extra-time win over Simonstown Gaels on Saturday night they christened hero Fergus Toolan with a new identity 'Nose Bleed Toolan' they called him.

Just seconds earlier Toolan found himself in unfamiliar territory deep inside the Simonstown half. No one took his positioning seriously, but with a flick of his accurate left boot substitute Niall Kelly picked out the wing back in acres of space.

The clock had long ticked into the one minute of injury-time, but Toolan didn't panic. He settled himself, took aim and arrowed his shot straight between the posts to spark wild celebrations. The subsequent kick-out drew the final whistle and Dunshaughlin were through to face Donaghmore/Ashbourne in the semi-final.

The defeat was harsh on Simonstown. Aside from a sleep-inducing opening half they contributed superbly to an exciting game that was high on drama, but low on quality as both sides struggled to raise their standards above mediocrity.

The game had everything - two missed penalties, a late goal to force extra-time and an even later point to provide a winner. However, it was lacking in quality as both sides made numerous mistakes and there was very few free-flowing passages of football.

Simonstown will be kicking themselves as they squandered a glorious opportunity. It took Shane O'Rourke until extra-time to have a positive impact, but in that period he almost singlehandedly set-up the Navan men for victory. However, they couldn't hold on.

Simonstown wasted seveal gilt edged chances and kicked at least seven efforts into Ronan Gogan's hands, but Dunshaughlin took the majority of their opportunities with Niall Murphy proving to be a clever link man to help set up Trevor Dowd and the excellent Cathal O'Dwyer.

Character was the other major component of Dunshaughlin's success and they showed in in abundance in extra-time. After failing to kill the game in normal time their heads dropped for the start of the extra-time and Simonstown raced into a three-point lead.

However, Dunshaughlin refused to give up. They regrouped and clawed their way back into the game, culminating in Toolan's winning point. It was that character that manager Gary Farrelly (pictured) was most proud of.

"They're the games we love to win. Myself and Dunshaughlin have been on the receiving end of games like that over the last 10 years so it is good to come out on the right side for once," Farrelly told the Meath Chronicle.

"There was a fear that we had let it slip in normal time, but the one thing that we have tried to build is the character of the team and they have that now. We have been working hard on our charcater and ability to keep going and it was good to see that come through at the end.

"It is onwards and upwards now, we have no fear. There are some devastating teams still left in this championship, but we have a chance," concluded the Dunshaughlin manager.

The opening half was dire. Two points from Wayne McCarthy were cancelled out by scores from Conor Devereux and the superb Caoimhin King in the opening quarter, but in the final 10 minutes of the half Dunshaughlin secured a 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead with Dowd (two frees) and O'Dwyer on target in response to efforts from McCarthy and Andrew Kearney.

The excitement levels didn't take long to rise after the break. Within 30 seconds Dunshaughlin had a penalty when O'Dwyer was bundled over by Shane McGivney as he was about to plant the ball in an empty net. However, Dowd's penalty struck the woodwork and went wide.

It took a further nine minutes before Simonstown finally opened the second-half scoring when McCarthy pointed, but Dunshaughlin upped the tempo and within three minutes they were 0-8 to 0-5 ahead with points from O'Dwyer (two) and Tadhg O Dushlaine.

Simonstown were handed a lifeline when Ronan Gogan fumbled a high ball into the path of Mark McCabe and then he fouled the Simonstown man for a penalty. Full-back Eanna Harrington took responsibility for the spot kick, but he drove his effort left and wide.

Simonstown didn't let that miss rattle them. Shane Barry and Sean Tobin narrowed the gap to the minimum with nine minutes remaining, but again Dunshaughlin found another gear as King, Murphy and Dowd put them 0-11 to 0-7 ahead.

Tobin's free left three points between them and with time rapidly running out Simonstown conjured up a goal when Shane O'Rourke picked out Tobin with a brilliant pass and he in turn fed Shane Carr for a simple goal to force extra-time, 1-8 to 0-11.

In extra-time Shane O'Rourke (two) and McCabe put Simonstown in the driving seat, but another brace of frees from Dowd closed the gap to 0-13 to 1-11 at the break. King restored parity within three minutes of the restart, but O'Rourke looked to have won it for Simonstown when he pointed them into a 1-12 to 0-14 lead with just two minutes left.

However, Ray Maloney restored parity and a minute late Toolan struck the winning point to break Simonstown's heart and send Dunshaughlin marching on.

Dunshaughlin - R Gogan; A Doyle, K McTigue, M Ahern; F Toolan (0-1), T Johnson, D Kealy; J Crimmins, C King (0-3); T Dowd (0-5 four frees), R Maloney (0-1), C Devereux (0-1); T O Dushlaine (0-1), N Murphy (0-1), C O'Dwyer (0-3). Subs - E Hagerty for O Dushlaine 47 mins, A Johnson for Crimmins 53m, M Reilly for T Johnson 57m; extra-time - R Kealy for Devereux, Crimmins for Murphy, N Kelly for Dowd.

Simonstown Gaels - R Duffy; S McGivney, E Donoghue, S O'Reilly; N McMahon, S Carr (1-0), M O'Rourke; S O'Rourke (0-3 one free), S Barry (0-1); M McCabe (0-1), S Kenny, S Tobin (0-2 frees); W McCarthy (0-4 two frees), P McKeever, S Moran. Subs - A Kearney (0-1) for McKeever 9 mins, S Kieran for Moran 42m, C Wickham for McMahon 46m, P Meade for O'Reilly 49m; extra-time - C Kenny for Wickham, S O'Neill for Barry, J Lyons for M O'Rourke.

Referee - Joey Curley (Moynalty).

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