O’Mahonys Royal kingpins again
By Paul Keane
Navan O’Mahonys 1-11 Wolfe Tones 0-07
Navan O’Mahonys stretched their lead at the head of the county roll of honour following a comprehensive victory over Wolfe Tones.
And O’Mahonys made their intentions clear immediately. Winning possession at the throw-in, they required just 15 seconds to work the ball through to Alan Forde and on to Shane Gillespie who dummied the Tones goalkeeper and found the net.
Possessing a three point head start, the favourites weren’t about to let their 18th title slip. In fact, by full-time the champions had amassed a double scores victory, thanks in part to the excellence of Gillespie, who was named Man of the Match with 1-1, and county man Stephen Bray, who kicked five points. Former Meath and Leinster footballer Niall McKeigue had a good game too, keepings tabs on Tones danger man Cian Ward before being moved to fire fight elsewhere in defence.
Yet, in truth, it wasn’t a game that will live long in the memory and a total of 58 frees in the game – one a minute – sums up the nature of a stop/start affair in wet and windy conditions.
The 4,000 or so fans that filled the main stand travelled in anticipation of a cracker between two teams that have developed a keen rivalry in recent years.
But while Gillespie’s early strike hinted at a thriller, the game never quite got going. There were only 11 points from play between the two teams with a notable lack of guile in the attacking areas.
Ward, playing in the Tones full-forward line alongside younger brother and All-Ireland minor finalist Fiachra, missed two goal chances in the first-half.
Had they gone in things might have panned out differently though O’Mahonys were generally good value to advance to a November 11 Leinster club quarter-final clash with Emmet Og Killoe of Longford.
“It would be great if we could build something for Meath in the Leinster championship now, like Walterstown did in the ’80s,” said O’Mahonys boss Davy Nelson. “They got to two All-Ireland finals. Hopefully we can do something like that.”
The wind factor was significant, though neither side took advantage of it. When quick, early long ball was delivered by O’Mahonys in the 57th minute it led to a fine point from David Bray.
But play was all too often bunched between the two 21 metre lines with referee David Coldrick forced to resort to the whistle frustratingly often.
Cian Ward responded to the early goal with back-to-back free conversions for Tones but four points in-a-row from O’Mahonys were ominous and set the tone for the game.
Stephen Bray kicked two of those points, both off his left foot, and Nelson’s side led 1-4 to 0-2.
It’s worth noting that O’Mahonys lined out in the absence of county stars Kevin Reilly and Mark Ward because of injury while former Meath attacker Shane McKeigue was also out with knee trouble.
Few other club sides could absorb those losses but they have rising talent in the shape of Alan Forde, a breakthrough player with Meath in the Championship, and Jake Regan who closed out the half with two points.
They led 1-6 to 0-4 at the interval and Bray’s third point of the game in the 48th minute put them six clear.
Tones’ best goal chance came through Cian Ward when he took a quick free after dispossessing the goalkeeper but dragged his shot narrowly wide.
The 2006 winners lacked potency generally up front and only scored once from play in the second-half as O’Mahonys closed out the contest comfortably.
Navan O’Mahonys scorers: S Bray 0-5 (2f), S Gillespie 1-1, J Regan 0-3 (1f), S MacGabhann & D Bray 0-1 each.
Wolfe Tones scorers: C Ward 0-5 (4f), E Harrington & S Sheppard 0-1 each.
NAVAN O’MAHONYS: M Brennan; S O’Toole, N McKeigue, I Matthews; G O’Brien, S Crosby, B Dillon; C McGuinness, D Moran; A Forde, S MacGabhann, P Smyth; J Regan, S Bray, S Gillespie.
Subs: B Regan for McGuinness 35, H Finnegan for MacGabhann 41, D Bray for J Regan 52, D Maguire for Forde 55, D Murtagh for Smyth 62.
WOLFE TONES: D Nolan; D Coleman, C McLoughlin, R Brady; N McLoughlin, E Harrington, S Glynn; A Callaghan, S Corrigan; A Fox, S Sheppard, M Coleman; D McGrath, C Ward, F Ward.
Subs: A McKeown for Coleman 29, P Byrne for McGrath h/t, C Blaney for Coleman 41, P Caffrey for Callaghan 48.
Referee: D Coldrick (Blackhall Gaels).
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