Action from Friday's Meath FAI Schools' five-a-side tournament at the MDL, Navan.
With a record 168 teams from 80 schools taking part, this year's FAI Schools Meath five-a-side proved to be another resounding success with a total of 294 games played and 1,434 goals scored. The†tournament is currently sponsored by Xtra Vision and the final series of play-offs tkae place this week, Wednesday, 10th March.
Section A girls (small schools) featured eight competitive groups. Liz Halpenny's Yellow Furze team looked the most impressive after four straight wins (Bellewstown 3-1, Drumbaragh 4-0, Mount Hanover 5-0 and Wilkinstown 1-0). Bohermeen advanced after drawing with Gaelscoil na Bóinne (Trim) and Dunderry, but with an emphatic 4-1 over Carnaross.
Whitecross also advanced with Gaelscoil na Rithe, jointly-managed by Ailbhe Furlong and Caitlín Ni Ghallchóir, Fiona Mahon's Kentstown, Scoil Mhuire from Navan, managed by Denise Jackson. Kildalkey and Moynalty all advanced to the quarter-finals.
Section A boys (small schools) featured first and second round games. Boyerstown comfortably won with Cathal O Bric in charge easily overcoming Kilbeg, Clonalvy and Drumconrath. while Mount Hanover, managed by Joe Kelly, beat Killyon and Carnaross before cruising past Heronstown in the knock-out stage .
Last year's All-Ireland finalists Moynalty joined their girls team in the next round by defeating Bellewstown, Newtown and Mulhussey and advanced by knocking out Navan Educate Together.
Ronan McGahon' s Nobber side got the better of Kilmainhamwood ,Carrickleck ,Castletown and Kilmessan while Eamonn O Fearraigh's Baile Ghib beat Moynalvey, Drumbaragh 3-1 and drew with Kilmessan before narrowly defeating Kilmainhamwood 2-1 with an extra-time golden goal.
Cortown beat St.Patrick's (Trim) and Navan Educate Together, but were held 2-2 by Kiltale before ousting a spirited Bellewstown side .
Rathkenny looked impressive with wins over Heronstown and Kilskyre and advanced with a 4-2 victory over Carnaross and Rathmolyon secured the final spot with wins against Drumconrath, Meath Hill, Ardcath and Kilbeg in the play-offs.
Section B boys (medium sized schools). Robinstown overcome the challenge of Rathbeggan, Yellow Furze and Kilcloon B Carlanstown began with a convincing 7-1 over Ráth Chairn, played a draw with Kentstown B before beating Bohermeen B by 3-0.
Gaelscoil na Ríthe topped their group on goal difference ahead of Robinstown B after the two schools had drawn 2-2 in the first game. The Dunshaughlin school advanced after beating Carlanstown B by 7-0 and Slane by 5-0.
Trim's Gaelscoil na Bóinne ,managed by Kathy de Buitléir had outstanding performers in Keane Geraghty, Zak McGowan and Jack Dowling as they defeated Dunderry, Dangan B Wilkinstown, All-Ireland finalists on two occasions.
Stackallen scored 22 goals in their four games to pip a skillful St.Declan's, Ashbourne to the top position. Longwood, competing in the competition for the first time, were impressive in winning against Whitecross, Wilkinstown B and St.Joseph's, Navan.
Oldcastle ousted an excellent Athboy side in the deciding last game of the group by 3-2 in a thrilling encounter. Oldcastle had earlier defeated St Anne's, Navan by 5-0, Enfield (2-0) and drawn 4-4 with Ballivor.
Section B girls (large schools). The conditions were ideal for football and the groups games were closely fought contests with Cannistown, St. Olivers Navan, Dunboyne and Our Lady of Mercy Kells securing the four semi-final spots.
Despite the best efforts of Zoe Walsh and top scorer Aisling O'Flynn, Cannistown were beaten by a strong St. Oliver's team in the first semi-final.
The second semi-final was decided by an extra-time golden goal when Dunboyne beat Kells, managed by Louise O'Connor.
The final saw last year's champions Dunboyne take on St Oliver's who took the lead after Kelsey Nesbitt set-up Regina Hand to score. Dunboyne hit back with a goal from Katie Hyland, but Nesbitt put the Navan girls 2-1 up at the break.
Dunboyne equalised when Hyland grabbed her second before Nesbitt weaved her way through the Dunboyne defence and slotted the ball past the helpless Maeve Clince for a 3-2 victory.
Section C boys (large schools). Donacarney overcame local rivals Laytown by 2-1 despite the best efforts of Ross Murray and Georgie Poynton who scored Laytown's goal. Dunboyne recorded a 6-0 victory against Laytown B for whom James Conlon and Oisin Maloney excelled.
St Oliver Plunkett's were defeated by St Michaels in the group stage, but reversed the score in the quarter-final (3-2) while St Secahnall's game against St Colmcille's, Kells finished 4-3 after extra-time.
The semi-finals were both one-sided games as Dunboyne defeated Donacarney 5-0 and St Oliver's put paid to St. Seachnall's hopes with a 4-0 win. The final was a tense affair and the first-half was scoreless as both teams defended well. Dunboyne had most of the possession in the second-half and eventually Eoin Dunne broke the deadlock. St Oliver's, who were well served by Daniel Doggett and Simon Kalanzo, battled hard for an equaliser, but it wasn't to be as the game finished 1-0 for Dunboyne.
The winner of each of the five sections will represent Meath at the North Leinster finals against their counterparts from Louth, Longford and Westmeath at the MDL on Wednesday, 28th April with the Leinster finals also scheduled for the Navan venue on Wednesday, 19th May. The All-Ireland finals will be played at Leah Victoria Park, Tullamore on Wednesday, 26th May.
Organisers of the competition were Paul Holland (FAI Schools Meath co-ordinator) and Mark Scanlon (FAI Development Officer for Meath). Transition Year students from St. Peter's, Dunboyne and Athboy Community School did an outstanding as referees.
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