12 Apostles Secure Senior Status

Meath SFC Relegation PlayOff

Seneschalstown 4-09 Navan O’Mahony’s 3-07

Travelling to Ashbourne on Friday evening, the stakes could not have been higher for the footballers of Seneschalstown and Navan O’Mahony’s whose Senior Championships lives were dependent on the next 60 minutes plus of football. The Relegation Final is not where any club wants to be but that was the unfortunate reality for these two traditional heavyweights of club football in the Royal County. A big crowd turned out in the excellently presented Donaghmore/Ashbourne grounds on what was an ideal evening for football.

Seneschalstown had not recorded a SFC victory over the Hoops since 2011, a run which consisted of 7 straight wins for the town side so Seneschalstown needed to be prepared for a serious backlash following their defeats to St. Peter’s, Dunboyne and Ballinabrackey in the previous rounds. Seneschalstown, however, could be confident following on from their performances v Donaghmore/Ashbourne and St. Colmcille’s.

Despite finding themselves in relegation trouble the one thing Ciaran Marks side have had in abundance all year is a serious goal threat, and this was evidenced within 90 seconds of the throw-in. Seneschalstown were trying to engineer a shooting opportunity for Cathal Finnegan who took aim from the edge of the ‘D’, but three O’Mahony’s men managed to swarm him and block his initial effort. The ball kindly fell into the hands of Alan Mulvany who spotted a gap in the defence. Mulvany set off for goal and scythed through the middle before finishing deftly to the top right corner of the net for his second Championship goal in two games, having done similarly v St. Colmcille’s the last day. Seneschalstown needed to build on this quick start, and that they did.

Cathal Finnegan was to kick the first of his seven points on the night, the first a free before he launched a monstrous effort from out near the 45 which landed between the uprights and Seneschalstown were five points up in as many minutes.

O’Mahony’s managed to get themselves on the scoreboard in the ninth minute through James O’Reilly, but the devastating opening from Seneschalstown was about to get even better.

In the 10th minute Cathal Finnegan won the ball near the sideline and carried towards goal. Dylan Keating took a handpass from him and managed to bear down on goal, and with his weaker right foot rolled the ball into the bottom corner. On 13 minutes, Donie Commons added to the lead with a point from a ridiculous angle. Standing near the endline towards the scoreboard, Commons had appeared to run out of options so he hit what seemed to be a low percentage shot. The ball hung in the air for what seemed to an eternity and eventually dropped on top of the net and over the bar. An outrageous effort to say the least!

Two minutes later, Commons thought he could repeat the feat from a much more favourable angle but completely skewed his effort skyward. Eoin Finnegan was alive to the dropping ball and manged to break it to himself before coolly slotting the ball into the net after rounding the keeper. Seneschalstown were 4-03 to 0-01 to the good after 15 minutes, but the goals were not finished coming, not by a long way!

Ross Howard got himself on the end of an excellent handpassing move between Alan Mulvany and Dylan Keating to finish high to the roof of the net for Seneschalstown’s fourth green flag, and when Cathal Finnegan added his third point Seneschalstown had a fifteen point lead after twenty minutes.

All seemed done bar the shouting, but the drama was only about to increase…

In the 25th minute, Navan O’Mahony’s pulled a goal back through Conor Finnegan, and from the next attack Aodhán Mallon had their second major and the game was back on. Things were beginning to unravel for Ciaran Marks’ side, only compounded when they were reduced to 14 men for an off the ball incident. A pointed free reduced the Hoops deficit to eight before a badly needed score from Cathal Finnegan settled Seneschalstown once more. The gap was eight points at the interval as one last O’Mahony’s free concluded the first half scoring. A topsy turvy half had the Furze men in front 4-05 to 2-03 at the break.

Playing with a man down Seneschalstown needed to start the second half similarly to how they started the first. Plenty of pressure was applied as O’Mahony’s struggled to break out of their own half with the ball. Cathal Finnegan managed to kick three points in a row, two frees as it looked like Seneschalstown had complete control once again.

Navan O’Mahony’s clawed back a further 1-02 before Seneschalstown were reduced to 13 men and the nerves were evident if you were standing near the Seneschalstown dugout. O’Mahony’s had time on their side to complete a miraculous rescue effort but the Seneschalstown defence deserve credit for remaining resolute despite being down two players. Up the other end they even had some chances to put the game to bed but were guilty of bad shooting, and two excellent saves from the O’Mahony’s goalkeeper thwarted them also.

When Eoin Finnegan pointed to move Seneschalstown seven clear again with as many minutes remaining, it meant O’Mahony’s needed three scores to pull level. Finnegan did well to score after having an initial effort blocked. The gap was six points after Mallon fisted a point for Darren Fay’s men but just as Seneschalstown seemed to be closing the game out, another player was ordered off; this time for a black card offence.

O’Mahony’s got the games last score from a free but couldn’t get any closer than five points before Derek Ryan blew for full time.

The result secures Senior Championship football for a 55th consecutive year for the club, stretching back to the first year at Senior in 1968. A year with plenty of ups and downs for a team where the average age rarely rose above 22 so the many different experiences will hopefully stand them in good stead going in 2023.

Seneschalstown: David Gordon, Conor McDonnell, Simon Rooney, Ronan Conneely, Robert Wogan, John Smith, Seán Carey, Cathal Hickey, Donie Commons (0-01), Ryan Finnegan, Ross Howard (1-00), Alan Mulvany (1-00), Dylan Keating (1-00), Eoin Finnegan (1-01), Cathal Finnegan (0-07, 3fs).

Subs Used: Niall McCabe, Jamie Kirwan, Cormac Carolan, Sean Commons

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