Gaeil Colmcille made a winning start to the Meath SFC at Skryne tonight with a dramatic 1-11 to 0-13 win against Dunshaughlin despite finishing with 14 players.
This was an excellent game although the conditions made handling difficult for the players with rain showering the venue in the second-half as Gaeil Colmcille resumed chasing a one-point (1-5 to 0-9) interval deficit.
The Kells side got out of the traps quickly for the second-half compared to a lethargic opening to the game, but when Seanie Curran picked up a straight red card soon after the resumption it gave Dunshaughlin an opportunity to take control.
That was when the steel and grit that the Gaeil Colmcille crew has in abundance surfaced and proved too much for a Dunshaughlin side that simply wasted too many chances in the opening half when they were well in control.
That inability to kill off the game early ultimately proved costly for Dunshaughlin, but they showed enough in defeat to suggest that they will recover sufficiently to challenge for a qualification place.
Hesitancy in good scoring positions is something that manager Anthony Moyles will have to address whereas his counterpart, Lar Wall of Gaeil Colmcille, hardly has to say anything to his players due to the character and resolve of the group.
It didn't look good for Gaeil Colmcille in the opening quarter and they trailed by 0-1 to 0-6 after 17 minutes with last year's Meath minor captain Matthew Costello sending over four points (three frees) that were augmented by one each from Tadhg O Dushlaine and Ben Duggan.
Seamus Mattimoe's pointed free was all Gaeil Colmcille could muster, but the warning signs were evident when Dunshaughlin custodian Adam McDermott had to make the first of two crucial first-half saves to deny Hanlon a goal. He later tipped over a goalbound effort from Ryan Farnham.
Liam Ferguson got a second Gaeil Colmcille point in the 17th minute, but the crucial goal arrived from Curran a minute later after Hanlon made the opening.
Mattimoe (free), Farnham and Evan Sheridan added the Gaeil Colmcille points with Costello (two frees) and Matthew Moyles on target for Dunshaughlin before the break.
Gaeil Colmcille resumed smartly with and forged ahead from a brace of Hanlon points before Curran saw red.
That galavinised the 14 men and Mattimoe (free) extened the lead to two points (1-8 to 0-9) before Dunshaughlin countered from Costello and O Dushlaine for parity at the three-quarter stage.
That Gaeil Colmcille steel and character surfaced as Hanlon converted a free and at the other end Justin Carry-Lynch made a finger-tip save that denied another Meath minor from last year, Luke Mitchell.
Dunshaughlin then lost Maloney to a black card and Mattimoe gave Gaeil Colmcille a two-point cushion as the clock ticked down.
Ben Duggan's point revived Dunshaughlin and then Mitchell drew the sides level, but only after the intervention of referee Cormac Reilly who deemed the Carry-Lynch had stopped the ball going over the bar by putting his hands up through the net.
It was a controversial equaliser and that theme remained when Gaeil Colmcille were awarded a free from about 35 metres
and Hanlon did the rest for a hard-earned victory.
Gaeil Colmcille - Brian Hanlon 0-4 two frees; Seamus Mattimoe 0-4 three frees; Seanie Curran 1-0; Liam Ferguson 0-1; Evan Sheridan 0-1; Ryan Farnham 0-1.
Dunshaughlin - Matthew Costello 0-7 four frees; Ben Duggan 0-2; Tadhg O Dushlaine 0-2; Matthew Moyles 0-1;
Luke Mitchell 0-1.
Gaeil Colmcille - Justin Carry-Lynch; Paul Tormay, Barry Smith, Barry Tormay; Conall Courtney, Cormac Keegan, James Reilly; Cian Doogan, Evan Sheridan; Oisin Reilly, Seanie Curran, Liam Ferguson; Seamus Mattimoe, Ryan Farnham, Brian Hanlon.
Subs - Stevie McManus for B Tormay 37 mins, Fionn Ferguson for Doogan 47m.
Dunshaughlin - Adam McDermott; Oisin Foley, Fergus Toolan, Niall BYrne; Dan Ormsby, Niall MUrphy, Ray Maloney; John Crimmins, Niall Hurley; Tommy Johnson, Matthew Costello, Matthew Moyles; Wes Goodwin, Ben Duggan, Tadhg O Dushlaine.
Subs - Adam Kealy for Ormsby 25 mins, Luke MItchell for Goodwin 43m, Shane Gallogly for O Dushlaine 56m.
Black card - R Maloney (replaced by Eric Casserly 50m),
Referee - Cormac Reilly (St Mary's).
Next Edition of Chronicle will have reaction from Gaeil Colmcille manager Lar Wall.
Meath Co Board PRO Ciaran Flynn had an excellent brochure on sale with all the teams for the SFC first round plus some IFC
Brían Smith's late goal saw Cortown edge Kilmainhamwood by 1-10 to 0-10 in JFC tonight.