Ratoath 5-14 Skryne 3-4
What a way to capture the under 15 Division 1 crown, after choosing to play against the wind in the first half and with a loaded bench eager to impress, Ratoath went 6 points down early on , but trailed by only 3 at the break, before a stunning second-half display. In what is turning out to be a landmark year of success for Ratoath, the under-15s surfed the recent wave of title success to add the under-15 title to the under-17 and minor crowns.
The joyous scenes at the final whistle said everything about how much it meant to this squad and their management team who put in such work down the years. And they did it in such style as well.
To concede an early goal represented a real test of character but Cian O'Farrell's composure from the restarts helped Ratoath settle with the ever-versatile Cian Murphy switching back to lock down a full-back line where James McCann and Niall Rooney won their individual battles.
A couple of key positional switches helped Ratoath to click into gear, Sean Mohan making a big impact after dropping out to midfield and Luke Neville continuing his impressive form of late from centre-forward, kicking an important score.
Aaron Davis' strength in midfield and fielding ability gave Ratoath a key foothold from the kick-out against the wind with Lewis Nolan an able foil. And good scores by Lewis Nolan, Luke Neville and Sean Mohan kept Ratoath in the game.
Six behind coming up the break, the busy and unselfish Alex O'Kane picked out Jack Lanigan with a timely pass and the latter buried the ball to the net. It was no more than the team deserved after Tom Roddy cracked a shot off the crossbar. It was the perfect tonic just before the break and left Ratoath in touch, trailing by just one score, 2-4 to 1-4.
Despite the relentless pressure from the Skryne forwards the half back line performed exceptionally and despite the loss of the ever-reliable Jack Fennessy to a shoulder injury, Cian Smyth welcomed the call to battle.
Three frees from the nerveless Tom Roddy gave Ratoath the belief that they could drive on and win and when Evan Weir burst through and tucked the ball to the net, the floodgates opened.
Darragh Cunningham and Aaron Farrell played their part in a defence that shut up shop and the unselfish interplay of Alex O'Kane, Jack Lanigan, Oisín McGee and Tom Roddy up front stood out as the bench made a massive impact.
Evan Weir's second goal was followed by a big cameo by Sean Murphy who had the ball in the net almost immediately on his introduction after a clever, long ball in from Aaron Davis.
Cathal Byrne introduced on the back of an unlucky black card for the impressive Cian Smith did well to beat his man and bundle the ball over the line ably assisted by Sean Murphy. At this point Ratoath were firmly in the driving seat after some exquisite interplay and sharp display of neat passing - a common trademark of this team.
Late points from Tom Roddy and Aaron Davis from play put the icing on the cake. Michael Moriarty came on late on to compliment the great forward play. A great defensive team effort kept the Skryne men to only a goal in the second half with the versatile Marc Donnelly switching to the back line to shore up any threat.
All the training paid off in that second half when Ratoath were relentless, a 22-point swing a remarkable turnaround after a testing start. A true testament to the fitness and work ethic of this group. A truly special full panel effort by this tough stylish group sees them peak at just the right time.
A special mention to Brian Moore who was the 16th man on Sunday who fractured his ankle on the run up to the final and to Dean Lacy also suffering with a back injury. Diarmuid Stoney and Oisín Kelly also producing the goods for us throughout the campaign.
The start of bigger things to come!
Ratoath scorers: Evan Weir 2-1, Tom Roddy 0-4 (3fs), Sean Murphy 1-1, Sean Mohan 0-3, Luke Neville 0-3, Jack Lanigan 1-0, Cathal Byrne 1-0, Aaron Davis 0-1, Lewis Nolan 0-1, Alex O'Kane 0-1
Ratoath: Cian O'Farrell; Niall Rooney, Aaron Farrell, James McCann; Darragh Cunningham, Jack Fennessy, Cian Murphy; Aaron Davis, Lewis Nolan; Oisín McGee, Sean Mohan, Tom Roddy; Alex O'Kane, Luke Neville, Jack Lanigan.
Subs: Marc Donnelly, Evan Weir, Sean Murphy, Cathal Byrne, Michael Moriarty, Diarmuid Stoney, Brian Moore, Cian Smith, Dean Lacey, Oisín Kelly.