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Ratoath's Eamon Wallace celebrates at Pairc Tailteann.
Ratoath's Eamon Wallace celebrates at Pairc Tailteann.

Meath SFC: Ratoath claim first title

Meath SFC Final


By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann

County man Bryan McMahon and the Wallace brothers, Eamon and Joey, all rose to the occasion superbly as Ratoath capped their meteoric rise up through the Meath football ranks with a maiden SFC title.

A junior outfit as recently as seven years ago, Ratoath only played in the senior ranks for the first time three years ago but surged to an impressive Keegan Cup success in Navan.

It was tough on Summerhill who have now lost three county senior finals in a row though Ratoath were full value for the five-point Pairc Tailteann win.

They led by 10 points with just minutes left before Summerhil fired in 1-2 to put some gloss on the scoreline.

By that stage, Ratoath manager Davy Byrne, the former Dublin goalkeeper, had rolled on all six of his allotted subs to savour what was a famous occasion for the east-Meath parish located just inside the border with Dublin.

McMahon was terrific all afternoon for Meath in attack while Eamon Wallace hit their opening goal and his sibling, Joey, was named Man of the Match.

There was also a big performance from Meath U-20 Daithi McGowan, who struck 1-2, while Conor Rooney hit their other goal on a landmark day for the Sean Eiffe Park outfit.

They will be back in action in a fortnight against the winners of the Garrycastle/Killoe Emmet Og game in the AIB Leinster club championship.

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.

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.

Sean Dalton, Summerhill, and Ciaran O Fearraigh, Ratoath, during the Meath SFC Final at Pairc Tailteann.
Sean Dalton, Summerhill, and Ciaran O Fearraigh, Ratoath, during the Meath SFC Final at Pairc Tailteann.

Barry Dardis, who started the 2019 season in goals for the Meath senior team, played in attack for Summerhill and led their scoring with 0-7 overall for the 2013 winners.

Ratoath led 3-7 to 1-6 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 1-2 in injury-time, the goal bundled in from Ross Ryan, but it was too little, far too late.

Scorers for Ratoath: Eamon Wallace 1-3 (1-0 pen), Bryan McMahon 0-5 (3fs), Daithi McGowan 1-2 (2fs), Conor Rooney 1-2, Joey Wallace 0-3.

Scorers for Summerhill: Barry Dardis 0-7 (6fs), Kevin Ryan 1-1, Ross Ryan 1-0, Liam Shaw 0-1, Diarmuid McCabe 0-1, Padraig Geraghty 0-1, Sean Dalton 0-1, David Larkin 0-1.

RATOATH: Shane Duffy; Ciaran O Fearraigh, Conor McGill, Sean Brazil; Ben Wyer, Gavin McGowan, Jack Gillespie; Keith McCabe, Ben McGowan; Conor Rooney, Daithi McGowan, Eamon Wallace; Cian O'Brien, Bryan McMahon, Joey Wallace.

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, Padhraig Geraghty; Diarmuid McCabe, David Dalton; David Larkin, Paul Larkin, Kevin Ryan; Liam Shaw, Barry Dardis, Sean Dalton.

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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