Blackhall Gaels 2-12
With both sides tipped by the 'experts' to be among those in danger of relegation to the Intermediate ranks this was a game which if Sky had an interest in the club game would have been billed as a relegation six pointer. Typical though of what a win can do to change attitudes, the talk among Seneschalstown supporters after their win was now of a possible path to the quarter finals.
It looked for a while prior to the throw in that the Seneschalstown side were reluctant to leave the dressing rooms to go out onto the immaculate playing surface in Dunshaughlin but it soon became clear that there was a mix up with jerseys and they had to wait for a second set to arrive due to a clash of colours with Blackhall Gaels which had been overlooked.
And then coming towards the end it looked like the game would never end but eventually with only four seconds remaining in the eighth minute of injury time, referee Patrick Nelis sounded the long whistle to bring the match to a close as soon as Bryan Clarke had curled over his eighth point of the game and fourth from frees as Seneschalstown won out by a margin of seven points.
Leading by four points at the interval, Seneschalstown were in the driving seat but with plenty of space on the pitch due to both teams being reduced to fourteen players following an incident in the twenty first minute they were never going to be complacent but despite this they were hauled back to level pegging with ten minutes remaining despite earlier extending their advantage on the scoreboard to seven following the first of Joe Sheridan's brace of majors. They did though show impressive character to bounce back from this to in the end win out by that seven point margin thanks to a late flourish.
The aforementioned Sheridan was the player who opened the scoring when shooting into the road goals he gained possession inside the twenty-one metre line out near the right-hand sideline before slicing the ball over off the outside of the right boot. Blackhall Gaels replied with a converted free before Cathal Finnegan introduced himself to the south Meath club when he ran infield at a forty five degree angle, held off a few tackles and nonchalantly clipped the ball over the black spot. The Gaels first point from play arrived a few minutes later only for Sean Noonan to get on the end of a Bryan Clarke pass back outfield and bisect the uprights.
The high scoring nature of the early stages continued when in the eighth minute Bryan Clarke got on the end of a crossfield pass from Joe Sheridan and sent over his first of eight points. Two minutes later though and the sides were level as Blackhall Gaels knocked over two points, one from a free. The scoring dried up somewhat in the next ten minutes with only three scores between the two sides, Joe Sheridan with an excellent score and Bryan Clarke converting a free for Seneschalstown while the Gaels tagged on a free.
Then came a moment in which both sides saw their playing numbers reduced to fourteen when Patrick Nelis saw fit to request that two players, Conor Cowley being the Seneschalstown one leave the field of play following an incident.
The sending offs appeared to have something of a galvanising effect on Cowley's side as they went on to dominate the scoring for the closing period of the half, bettering the Batterstown/Kilcloon outfit by four points to one. Bryan Clarke kickstarted the upsurge when landing another free before he hoisted over from play while Cathal Finnegan converted two similar scores, albeit in alternate order with Blackhall Gaels managing a solitary point in the midst of these scores to leave the scoreboard reading Seneschalstown 0-10 Blackhall Gaels 0-06 when Nelis sounded the half time whistle.
The second half commenced with one change for the back in charge Damien Sheridan's side as Robert Wogan came into the action in place of David Matthews, with Gary Conlon reverting to a defensive role. The lively Cathal Finnegan opened the scoring for the half when he, from out near the right-hand sideline, got his angles spot on and curled over an expertly taken free, but Blackhall Gaels soon cancelled this score out when pointing a free of their own two minutes later. A pivotal moment in the game was next to arise as just seconds after surviving a major goal scare, Seneschalstown worked the ball up to the other end of the pitch where Joe Sheridan made no mistake as he buried the ball into the back of the net to push his side into a seven point lead.
Many in attendance thought this would have been the decisive score but to the immense credit of Blackhall Gaels they refused to wilt in the midst of adversity and over the course of the next eleven minutes they reeled off a goal and four points to draw level once more. The question now was whether they could maintain this new found momentum or whether Seneschalstown could dig deep within themselves and find renewed energy to wrest that momentum away from the side who were being inspired by Donncha Tobin around the middle of the field.
And when just when they needed something to spark themselves to life the Boynesiders conjured up their second goal of the evening. Bryan Clarke intercepted a ball coming out of defence and when the ball found its way to Cathal Finnegan he had only goal on his mind. The wing forward bore down on goal only to see his shot parried out by the goalkeeper. However, Joe Sheridan was lurking with intent and he made no mistake as he slid the ball home to throw his side a lifeline.
Bryan Clarke then landed three points in the space of four minutes to make the margin six point heading into injury time and Seneschalstown looked home and hosed. Blackhall though weren't giving up and pulled a point back only for Robert Wogan to again make it six when he found himself with a yard of space just to the right of the uprights. Much to the mystification of many in the crowd there was no sign of the final whistle coming and in the sixth minute of stoppage time the cat was well and truly put among the pigeons when Blackhall Gaels conjured up a goal to leave just three points between the sides. There though somehow was still enough time for one last twist in the tale of this most absorbing of encounters when Robert Wogan found himself in the right place at the right time as the ball fell into his arms when rebounding off the post and he tapped it past the despairing efforts of the goalkeeper to register Seneschalstown's third goal. Bryan Clarke then brought the game to a close when knocking over a free with sixty seven minutes and fifty six seconds on the clock as Patrick Nelis brought the game to a close.
Next up for Seneschalstown is a mouth-watering encounter with reigning champions Simonstown Gaels while Blackhall Gaels face St. Colmcilles.
Seneschalstown Scorers: Joe Sheridan (2-02), Bryan Clarke (0-08, 0-04 Frees), Robert Wogan (1-01), Cathal Finnegan (0-04, 0-02 Frees), Sean Noonan (0-01)
Seneschalstown: David Lyons, Conor Cowley, Cormac Noonan, Brian Maguire, Niall Groome, Adam Carey, David Matthews, John Smith, Damien Sheridan, Cathal Finnegan, Niall McCabe, Gary Conlon, Sean Noonan, Joe Sheridan, Bryan Clarke.
Seneschalstown Substitution: Robert Wogan for D. Matthews.