Dunshaughlin defy the tag of underdogs in tight decider
For the third time in five renditions the Meath SFC final will need a replay after Summerhill and Dunshaughlin finished level at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday. Seconds before the end of an underwhelming occasion Summerhill looked to have put themselves in a great position. After trailing for most of the second-half they managed to get back level when Brian Ennis held his nerve to convert a free and seconds later they attacked again in search of a winner. However, just as they had done all afternoon, Dunshaughlin smothered the Summerhill attack superbly, forced them to seek an alternative avenue and when Summerhill did manage to find some room the ball fell to a defender Richie Hatton who screwed his late chance of glory wide. That late effort summed up Summerhill's attacking prowess all day. They struggled to find holes in the Dunshaughlin rearguard where Caoimhin King was immaculate and Ronan Gogan was resolute in keeping the heavy favourites at bay. The Summerhill attack struggled to function. The direct style played into Kenny McTigue's hands as he snuffed out the threat of Stephen Kennedy. The slippery underfoot conditions didn't help either side, but Dunshaughlin seemed quicker to adapt to broken ball and scrappy passages. It was only the excellence of Ennis that sustained Summerhill in the second-half as he kicked four points from frees in difficult conditions, yet it was the brilliance of Gogan and King that kept Dunshaughlin in the game. They both combined to keep out goalbound efforts from Ennis and David Larkin. Summerhill will probably breathe a huge sigh of relief as they walked away intact without reaching anywhere close to the heights they are capable of, but Dunshaughlin must regret not stamping their authority on a game they had a firm grip on for more than 40 minutes. When Trevor Dowd gave them a 0-10 to 0-9 lead from a free with three minutes remaining Dunshaughlin looked on course to upset the odds, but after squandering several chances to clear their lines Richie Kealy picked off the ground and Ennis ensured Summerhill lived to fight another day. Whether Dunshaughlin can raise their levels another notch remains to be seen, but if their half-forward line can perform as well again in the replay then they could well cause a shock. Conor Devereux and Dowd were enormous handfuls and Summerhill struggled to contain them. When Gary Farrelly's side released the ball into the corners Cathal O'Dwyer had the pace to show Caolan Young a clean pair of heels and he punished them with a magnificent display that pushed King close for the man-of-the-match award. Dunshaughlin looked nervous in the first-quarter as Summerhill's bright start saw them race into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead with Paul Rispin opening the scoring from distance before Adrian Kenny doubled the advantage with a superb point and Ennis gave them their three-point cushion from a free after Rispin had been fouled by Denis Kealy. Denis Kealy made amends for conceding that free when he kicked a booming score from over 45 metres, but Summerhill's response was instant with Gillespie showing remarkable strength to stay on his feet before kicking a brilliant point to make it 0-4 to 0-1. However, Summerhill's shape then went awry. After Ennis lost possession around midfield Dunshaughlin countered with Tommy Johnson setting up Niall Murphy for a simple score. Early in the second-quarter Toolan pointed to close the gap to the minimum as Summerhill's direct approach ran up blind alleys. Devereux ended a fine move with the equalising point and more poor defending by Summerhill allowed Dunshaughlin get their noses in front for the first time with O'Dwyer on target. Larkin levelled for Summerhill 90 seconds later, but they were still a pale shadow of the side that started impressively. Toolan and Ennis both missed relatively easy frees before Dowd resumed free-taking duties to ensure Dunshaughlin led by 0-6 to 0-5 at the break after Young had fouled O'Dwyer off-the-ball. It only took Dunshaughlin a minute to double their lead after the break when O'Dwyer found himself in acres of space to pick up Devereux's ball and fist over. The first of Ennis' four second-half frees settled Summerhill, but they couldn't get any momentum going as Dunshaughlin smothered them superbly. Gogan produced heroics to deny Ennis and King was brave at the rebound to keep our Larkin's effort as Summerhill threatened to get on top. O'Dwyer continued to give Young a torrid time with his third point to make it 0-8 to 0-6, but again Ennis kept Summerhill in touch with a free after King had overcarried. An outstanding score from over 50 metres from Gillespie and another Ennis free with 10 minutes remaining gave Summerhill the lead, 0-9 to 0-8, for the first time in over 30 minutes. However, Dunshaughlin were resilient. Devereux tied the scores and with three minutes remaining Young fouled O'Dwyer again and Dowd converted to give his side a 0-10 to 0-9 lead. Richie Kealy's error and then dissent from several defenders handed Ennis the simple tap over 20-metre free to tie up matters and despite having the better of the closing chances Summerhill were happy to use their get out of jail free card and live to fight another day. SCORERS Summerhill - B Ennis 0-5 frees; C Gillespie 0-2; P Rispin 0-1; A Kenny 0-1; D Larkin 0-1. Dunshaughlin - C O'Dwyer 0-3; C Devereux 0-2; T Dowd 0-2 free; D Kealy 0-1; N Murphy 0-1; F Toolan 0-1. THE TEAMS Summerhill - Tony McDonnell; Davy Dalton, Caolan Young, Willie Ryan; Stephen Husband, Richie Hatton, Michael Gorman; Micheal Byrne, Conor Gillespie; David Larkin, Brian Ennis, Maurice Kennedy; Paul Rispin, Stephen Kennedy, Adrian Kenny. Subs - Bobby Lyons for M Kennedy 37mins, Paul Larkin for Rispin 50m, Ciaran Malone for Husband 54m. 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 - Richie Kealy for Murphy 47mins, Niall Kelly for T Johnson 51m, Martin Reilly for Toolan 55m, Tadhg O Duishlaine for Devereux 59m. REFEREE Cormac Reilly (St Mary's).