Senechalstown hosted two U13 finals on Saturday 30th and the pitch was in fantastic order. The hosts gave a real county final feel to the game with both teams announced over the PA system prior to Amhrán na bhFiann being played. Padraic Coyle took charge of the game on a bright autumn afternoon, which provided perfect conditions for football. Ratoath started strongly with their midfielders running hard at the St Colmcilles defence, earning and converting a number of frees before St Colmcilles could get on the scoresheet.
Eoghan McBrearty got St Colmcilles off the mark with a fine long range point, followed by a second, equally fine score which seemed to settle his team. The Ratoath goalkeeper was hitting his half forward line with booming kickouts which put the St Colmcilles half back line of Caolán Gartlan, Cormac Black and Calvin Hough under serious pressure but to their credit, they gradually came to terms with it and started to win some of the Ratoath kickouts, setting up the Cilles forwards and midfield with a steady supply of ball. The industrious Ciarán Murray won one of those good passes out on the right but was fouled by the strong Ratoath defence and duly converted to bring the teams level at 3 points each.
Ratoath continued to be very efficient in front of goal and had a 100% conversion rate in the first half, keeping their scores ticking over. Hard work by Eoghan McBrearty and Alex Brady in midfield and Matthew McCloskey who was covering every blade of grass on the pitch, supplied Cillian Murphy and Reuben Moore who added two more points to edge St Colmcilles in front. The full back line of Dylan Feehan and Dominic Duffy were soaking up a lot of pressure from the excellent Ratoath forwards during this period, repelling countless attacks.
McBrearty was growing in influence in midfield and started another attack near the end of the first quarter that led to Cillian Murphy’s shot being blocked by the excellent Ratoath keeper but the ball spilled to an ever alert Tadgh Walsh who clinically finished the ball to the back of the net. Further points from Cormac Black, Eoghan McBrearty, Alex Brady and two from Cillian Murphy, allowed St Colmcilles to build a lead at half time to be ahead by 1:10 to 0:06.
At half time, both sides took a welcome break after an intense 30 minutes. Mahon O’Rourke replaced the excellent Dominic Duffy who retired injured at half time, slotting in seamlessly into the full back line alongside the dominant Dylan Feehan. Ratoath bounced back immediately after the restart with a goal and a point to close the gap very quickly to 3 points before Matthew McCloskey was rewarded for his huge workrate all over the field to pounce on a loose ball and rifle it to the back of the net. Reuben Moore then found himself on the end of another excellent move to add a second superbly taken goal to re-establish a strong lead for St Colmcilles. Further points from Cillian Murphy and the team captain Alex Brady stretched the lead to 3:12 to 1.7 at the second water break.
St Colmcilles made a number of changes before the restart with Sean Phelan, Jake Ryan, Sean Donnelly and Luke Gibbons coming in to the forward line and Milo Hall at midfield. The fresh legs had an immediate impact, working up and down the field to support the defence against the growing intensity of the Ratoath forwards and then turning over ball into attack. Ratoath upped their intensity in the last quarter, knowing goals were needed to close the gap. The entire Cilles team worked as a unit to close down any avenue to goal, putting in super blocks and forcing some long range shooting that went wide or dropped short into the hands of the confident Cilles keeper Cathal Bentley who was one of the best players for Cilles in the final quarter, catching high balls under pressure and showing off excellent composure to set up numerous counter attacks.
Ryan and Phelan combined numerous times down the left and Gartlan and Donnelly down the right, along with Black and Hough in the half back line to transition from defence into attack and provide supply to Luke Gibbons in full forward. The strength in depth of the Cilles bench was highlighted by the 4 points scored in the final quarter coming from the replacements with two excellent long range points from Milo Hall and Sean Donnelly being among the best seen on the day. Luke Gibbons gave an immense display at full forward, often working on his own due to the rest of the forwards working in defence, taking two fine points.
The final score of 3:16 to 1.9 was attributed to the efficiency of the Cilles team in front of goal and their hardworking defence. Going into the game, St Colmcilles knew that Ratoath’s strong runners could score goals at any point in the game, having won their semi final with 2 late goals. The Cilles defence had to be at their best to prevent this as Ratoath never gave up and were a danger right to the final whistle.
This was an excellent game and a fantastic advertisement for underage football in Meath, overseen by the excellent refereeing of Padraic Coyle. Both head coaches spoke highly of their opposition afterwards giving credit to both sides for their excellent performance and intensity right to the end. Alex Brady accepted the cup on behalf of his team to great celebrations in St Colmcilles 50th year.
St Colmcilles Team : Alex Brady(c), Calvin Hough, Caolán Gartlan, Cathal Bentley, Ciaran Murray, Cillian Murphy, Cormac Black. Dominic Duffy, Dylan Feehan, Eoghan McBrearty, Jake Ryan, Sean Donnelly, Sean Phelan, Tadgh Walsh, Luke Gibbons, Mahon O’Rourke, Matthew McCloskey, Milo Hall, Reuben Moore
Words: Ronan Murphy
Photography: Brian Mulligan