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Tuesday February 25, 2020

Ratoath overcome Summerhill to win first ever Meath SFC crown

courtesy of RTE


Ratoath's Eamon Wallace celebrates after a late point


Ratoath 3-15 Summerhill 2-13

There’s a new name on Meath’s Keegan Cup after first-time finalists Ratoath surged to a maiden county SFC success with a power packed display in Navan.

Inspired by county man Bryan McMahon and ex-county forwards Eamon and Joey Wallace, the Davy Byrne managed outfit capped a remarkable rise up through the ranks with a historic title.

Ratoath won the junior championship in Meath as recently as 2012 and only turned senior for the first time after their 2015 intermediate triumph yet cruised to a comfortable win.

All three goals, courtesy of Eamon Wallace, Meath U-20 Daithi McGowan and Conor Rooney, arrived in the first-half as Summerhill slipped to an agonising third final defeat in a row.

Ratoath also had All-Star nominee Conor McGill in their ranks while county U-20 captain Connell Ahearne came on as they romped to a five-point win that flattered Summerhill who clipped 1-02 in injury-time.

Ratoath’s reward for the breakthrough success is a Leinster club quarter-final clash with Westmeath champions Garrycastle on 10 November.

Despite it being Ratoath’s first taste of county senior final action they looked like the seasoned crew of experienced campaigners with absolutely no sign of nerves.

They did admittedly concede a goal just seconds into the contest when Summerhill, beaten in the 2017 and 2018 deciders, seized possession from the throw in and worked a move that led to Kevin Ryan thumping to the net.

But Eamon Wallace cancelled it out after just four minutes from the penalty spot following a foul on Daithi McGowan and Joey Wallace put Ratoath ahead with a fifth minute point.

Summerhill failed in their quest for a first title since 2013
It was a lead the east-Meath outfit would hold onto and emboss with two more goals before the game was even 30 minutes old.

Rooney fired Ratoath’s second goal in the 10th minute after a defence splitting hand-pass from the right by McMahon and McGowan drilled their third just before the interval.

Joey Wallace finished the half with three points from play as Ratoath picked up from where they left off in the semi-final when they blitzed Gaeil Colmcille with a strong second-half.

Summerhill, to their credit, looked threatening any time they attacked and the game opened out into an intriguing head to head though Ratoath possessed the greater firepower.

Barry Dardis, who started the 2019 season in goals for the Meath senior team, played in attack for Summerhill and led their scoring with 0-07 overall for the 2013 winners.

Ratoath led 3-07 to 1-06 at half-time and stretched the gap to nine points with points from McGowan and the excellent McMahon immediately after the restart.

Summerhill looked in real trouble though reeled off four points in a row – three of them from free-taker Dardis – between the 35th and 39th minutes to make a game of it.

A five-point margin remained between the teams with 15 minutes to go but Eamon Wallace’s 45th point was significant, opening up a six-point lead again and the influential forward punched the air in delight.

Summerhill never recovered and points from McMahon and Eamon Wallace left Ratoath sitting pretty and on the cusp of a famous win.

Summerhill needed a miracle at that stage but it never arrived as Ratoath hammered home their authority with more scores from McGowan and Rooney.

Byrne rolled in the Ratoath subs late on and Summerhill briefly rallied with 1-02 in injury-time, the goal bundled in from Ross Ryan, but it was too little, far too late.

Ratoath: Shane Duffy; Ciaran O Fearraigh, Conor McGill, Sean Brazil; Ben Wyer, Gavin McGowan, Jack Gillespie; Keith McCabe, Ben McGowan; Conor Rooney (1-02), Daithi McGowan (1-02, 0-02f), Eamon Wallace (1-03, 1-00 pen); Cian O’Brien, Bryan McMahon (0-05, 0-03f), Joey Wallace (0-03).

Subs: Emmet Boyle for O Fearraigh (43, black card), Darragh Kelly for Ben McGowan (46), Brian O’Connor for Daithi McGowan (53), Jack McGowan for O’Brien (57), Connell Ahearne for Rooney (57), Andrew Gerard for Gavin McGowan (59), Emmet Boyle (65, black card, not replaced).

Summerhill: Tony McDonnell; Padraig Jennings, Ronan Ryan, John Lavelle; John Keane, Ross Ryan (1-00), Padhraig Geraghty (0-01); Diarmuid McCabe (0-01), David Dalton; David Larkin (0-01), Paul Larkin, Kevin Ryan (1-01); Liam Shaw (0-01), Barry Dardis (0-07, 0-06f), Sean Dalton (0-01).

Subs: Micheal Byrne for Ryan (31), Conor Frayne for Shaw (41), William Ryan for Paul Larkin (46).

Referee: David Gough (Slane).

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