Daire Rowe struck late for Boyne Valley

Rowe strikes late winner to send Boyne Valley to the final

Holders Boyne Valley recovered from a nine point deficit to edge out Loughcrew, 1-17 to 3-10 in a thrilling Regional FC semi-final at Dunganny tonight writes Sean Wall.

This was a ding-dong contest throughout with last year’s beaten semi-finalists Loughcrew setting a terrific pace in the early stages to take command of the exchanges in the opening half.

They held a nine point advantage on two different occasions before John McCarthy’s side grew into the game the longer it progressed and by half-time had brought it back to more manageable proportions, a five point deficit, 0-9 to 2-8.

That lead for Davy Nelson’s side was whittled back to the minimum by the 39th minute. The north Meath men got it back to four after pouncing for a third goal on 41 minutes and eventually went five points clear again.

However they failed to register in the final 17 minutes plus injury time as Boyne Valley seized the initiative and hit six unanswered points, with the winner coming from a Daire Rowe close range free four minutes from the end of a breath-taking contest.

Points from a Rowe free and Francis Marry had Boyne Valley ahead twice in the opening exchanges. There was only one team in it for a lengthy spell after David Gibney finished to the net for Loughcrew on eight minutes. CJ Healy, Gibney (two), Pearse Sheridan and Lee Healy all added points before the end of the quarter with Boyne Valley’s only score in the same spell come from Rowe.

Sloppy play in the Boyne Valley defence allowed Cormac Brown in for a second goal to leave it 2-6 to 0-3. From that to half-time Boyne Valley outscored their opponents six points to two with David McLoughlin (two), Rowe, Conor Farrelly, Adam Quinn and Matt Tully all on target. Harry Ryan (free) and Gibney had points in the same period.

Mark Foy and Quinn (’45) reduced the deficit further on the restart and Loughcrew had a lucky escape after a Rowe sent a teasing ball across the face of the goals but there was no one there to apply the finishing touch.

The goal that Boyne Valley needed eventually came with Rowe cutting in from the left wing before finishing low to the net off a post on 39 minutes. It was game on in earnest at that stage and for a spell Loughcrew rose to the challenge with Cormac Browne finding the net from close range and Harry Ryan adding a quick point to leave it 3-10 to 1-11.

Loughcrew seemed to have done enough to avenge last year’s semi-final defeat but they relinquished control of proceedings and Boyne Valley seized their opportunity.

McLoughlin and Rowe, two each, and Mark Foy had points to bring it back to the minimum and it was fitting that Rowe should strike the winning score following a foul on substitute Podge McGowan.

The Boyne Valley goal had a scare three minutes from the finish when the ball hit the butt of a post and rolled harmlessly wide, but they survived to advance to the final next Tuesday night.

Boyne Valley - Cathal Dardis (Syddan); Evan Murray (Slane), Mark Foy (Walterstown 0-2), Jack Doyle (Walterstown); Kyle Tallon (Slane), Darren Brennan (Moynalvey), Conor Farrelly (Walterstown 0-1); Francis Marry (Slane 0-1), Sean Clare (Syddan); Adam Quinn (Walterstown 0-2, one ‘45), David McLoughlin (Moynalvey 0-4, two frees), Mark Fedigan (Syddan); Daire Rowe (Syddan 1-6, three frees), Matt Tully (Slane 0-1), Michael Brady (Moynalvey). Subs – Podge McGowan (Slane) for Tully 46 mins, Jim Marry (Slane) for Tallon 54m.

Loughcrew – Dylan Scully (St Brigid’s); Dylan Garrigan (Oldcastle), Michael Flood (St Brigid’s), Shane Gibney (Moylagh); Darragh Caffrey (Ballinlough), Sean Geraghty (Ballinlough), Lee Healy (Oldcastle 0-1); Sean Reilly (Moylagh), Oran Mulvaney (Oldcastle); Cormac Brown (St Brigid’s 2-0), Pearse Sheridan (Oldcastle 0-2), Harry Ryan (Ballinlough 0-3, one free); CJ Healy (Oldcastle 0-1), James Cooke (Oldcastle), David Gibney (St Brigid’s 1-3). Subs – Ben Gray (Oldcastle) for Cooke 42 mins, Gareth O’Reilly (Oldcastle) for Ryan 46m, Sean Guirke (Moylagh) for Sheridan 54m.

Referee – Padraic Coyle (Seneschalstown)