Ratoath's emphatic hoganstand.com SFC Group B win over Duleek-Bellewstown at Skryne on Friday night secured senior status for last year's IFC winners.
Ratoath ......................... 4-14
Duleek-Bellewstown ...... 0-10
Bobby O'Brien's two first-half goals provided the foundation for this win. Some fine points from Bryan McMahon and midfielder Cian O'Brien enhanced tor Ratoath's bid for a second win from five SFC fixtures.
A draw would have done the business for Ratoath. Duleek-Bellewstown needed to win to avoid being drawn into the relegation dogfight having drawn one and lost three of their previous four SFC outings.
Despite playing into a strong diagonal wind blowing towards the impressive pavilion, Ratoath took control from the off.
The pace of Joey and Eamon Wallace unhinged a beleaguered Duleek-Bellewstown rearguard. Eamon left an early impression setting up Bobby O'Brien's opening goal that left it 1-3 to 0-1 after 10 minutes.
Ratoath's greater cohesion is reflected in the scoreline while their second goal arrived in the 19th minute when O'Brien flicked the ball to the net with support from Jack McGowan and Darragh Kelly. That left the scoreboard reading 2-5 to 0-2.
Graham Geraghty's men enjoyed a good spell posting four points on the bounce between the 21st and 29th minutes. Stephen Nolan, Conall McGinley and John Flood contributed frees, the latter a fine effort from about 40 metres. Anthony Burke got the run going with a point from play
Bryan McMahon broke the sequence with the final point of the half to leave it 2-8 to 0-6 at the break.
The sides shared four points in the third quarter with both Ratoath scores fine efforts on the run from Cian O'Brien. A well-judged Anthony Burke effort left it 2-10 to 0-8 midway through the half.
Ratoath rediscovered their scoring mojo in the final quarter when outscoring Duleek-Bellewstown by 2-4 to 0-2. Bryan McMahon was denied a 49th minute goal by James Murphy's block.
It offered only temporary respite for the east couny men. Within seconds of that near miss, Ratoath netted their third goal through Conor Rooney. Cian O'Brien's fourth point was a highlight of the latter stages as was wing-back Gavin McGowan's 60th minute goal seconds later.
Duleek-Bellewstown closed the scoring with an Anthony Burke free, but their year is not over as the relegation play-off looms.
Ratoath - Jack O'Sullivan; Patrick Quinn, Brian Power, Emmet Boyle; Gavin McGowan (1-0), Conor McGill, Keith McCabe; Darragh Kelly (0-1), Cian O'Brien (0-4); Eamon Wallace, Joey Wallace, Bryan McMahon (0-5, 3fs); Conor Rooney (1-2), Bobby O'Brien (2-2), Jack McGowan. Subs - Garrett Rooney for Quinn (ht), Richie Lombard for McArdle (57).
Duleek-Bellewstown - Anthony Dowling; Des Teeling, David Moore, Jason Branagan; Robert Clarke, Kevin McCann, Shane Crosby (0-1); Micheal Dowling, Brian Moore; John Flood (0-1 f), Eanna Byrne, Stephen McArdle; Anthony Burke (0-4, 1f), Stephen Nolan (0-2, 1f), Conal McGinley (0-2 fs). Subs - James Murphy for Teeling (ht), Casey Dunne for B Moore (51), Wayne Noone for McGinley (51), Ciaran Flynn for Byrne (54).
Referee - Pat Clarke (Seneschalstown)