Meath SFC final: First-half foundations earn first Keegan Cup for Simonstown

October 30, 2016

Simonstown's Joe Lyons with Conor Carey Donaghmore Ashbourne during the Meath SFC final at Pairc Tailteann.

Simonstown claimed the SFC for the first time at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday when proving too good for Donaghmore-Ashbourne.

Simonstown Gaels ................. 1-14
Donaghmore-Ashbourne ......... 0-8

Colm O'Rourke's charges laid the foundations for this historic success in the first-half when opening a 10-point lead that sustained them to the end.

Simonstown were never caught after Pauric McKeever opened the scoring within 12 seconds of the start. McKeever emerged as the game's top scorer with six points and scooped the Colum Cromwell trophy for his man-of-the-match display.

There was other contenders from the newly-crowned champions for the trophy that honours one of their iconic members. Seamus Kenny, Shane O'Rourke, Conor Nash and Brian Conlon, the central diamond of the team, also played key roles.

The outcome more than atoned for the dramatic Feis Cup final defeat to Donaghmore-Ashbourne a few weeks back.

Eight different players got off the mark for Simonstown, including both midfielders and two subs. One of them Brian McGrath posted their penultimate score with a brilliant 51st minute effort. Another replacement, the experienced Michael Brennan closed the scoring

Donaghmore-Ashbourne outscored the north-Navan men by 0-6 to 0-5 in the second-half. It wasn't enough to prevent them slipping to their second SFC final defeat in three years.

From the resumption, Simonstown remained in control without being overly defensive. Sean Kelly's men could only match Simonstown in the third quarter when the sides shared four points.

Niall Kane's timely block on Michael Deegan's goal attempt midway through the second-half kept Sean Kelly's men at a safe distance.

Backed by the sun and the dimishing breeze, Simonstown opened well, putting four points on the board in the opening 10 minutes.

Pauric McKeever led the way in the first-half with five points (three frees). Four other Simonstown players got off the mark in the first 30 minutes. McKeever got the scoring going with 12 seconds of the off.

Goalkeeper Robbie Burlingham gave them a huge boost when saving Andrew Tormey's penalty having read it well. Conor Nash capped a great first-half with a fine seventh minute point.

Team captain Joe Lyons created the opening for Shane O'Rourke to score. McKeever's second from play completed that early sequence.

Before the end of the opening quarter, McKeever added his first free.

James Colgan, who had pushed upfield from full-back, fisted Donaghmore-Ashbourne's opening score in the 17th minute.

It only offered temporary respite. Two McKeever frees pushed Simonstown further ahead. Conor Carey added a second Ashbourne point just before Joe Lyons nipped in to fire home the only goal and leave it 1-7 to 0-2.

Further points from Shane O'Rourke and Conor Sheridan (45) left Simonstown 10 points to the good at the break. They let a big lead slip in 2003. History wasn't repeated, it was the teacher.

Simonstown Gaels - Robbie Burlingham; Shane Gallagher, Niall McMahon, Stephen Moran; Michael O'Rourke, Brian Conlon, Niall Kane;Shane O'Rourke (0-2), Conor Nash (0-2); Joe Lyons (C) (1-0), Seamus Kenny (0-1), Mark McCabe; Pauric McKeever (0-6, 4fs), Conor Sheridan (0-1 45), Eanna Donoghue. Subs - Sean Tobin for Sheridan (39), Brian McGrath (0-1) for M O'Rourke (44), Michael Brennan (0-1) for Nash (50), Shane Barry for Lyons (58).

Donaghmore-Ashbourne - Jack Hannigan; Sean Curran, James Colgan (0-1), JP Casserly; Daragh McGovern, Thomas McGovern, Paul Gilligan; Conor Carey (0-1), David Morgan; Cathal Field, Michael Deegan (0-3, 2fs), Conor Carton; Dylan Brady (0-1), Andrew Tormey (0-2), Bryan Menton (C). Subs - Cormac McGill for Morgan (14), Eoin Riordan for Casserly (25), Ciaran Ellis for Field (ht), Aidan Hughes for Carton (46), Jack Giles for D McGovern (49), Shane Melia for Gilligan (56).

Cormac Reilly (St Mary's)

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