Navan O’Mahonys 0-13 Na Fianna 1-8: This Meath SFC decider was anything but a Halloween cracker — more a damp squib — but there were some fireworks in the closing minutes before champions O’Mahonys retained their crown.
O’Mahonys, who were seeking a 20th title, were coasting to victory when leading by double scores, 0-12 to 0-6 with a little over five minutes remaining.
Challengers Na Fianna were attempting to win the crown for the first time, but they were always struggling to keep tabs with their more illustrious opponents until producing a late burst.
Teenager Ethan Devine sparked a Na Fianna revival when pointing a 45 on 56 minutes to bring his side within five points of the champions. Then, on the stroke of the 60th minute, Devine’s low drive took a deflection before nestling in the O’Mahonys net.
That gave the south Meath outfit a glimmer of hope and, in the first of two added minutes, Daniel Queeney converted a free to leave the minimum between the teams. There was still time for an equaliser, but it was the champions, unfazed by that sudden scoring burst from their opponents, who pointed, with the ice-cool Stephen Bray shooting over the insurance point seconds from the finish.
Bray, who recently announced his retirement from the inter-county scene, demonstrated that he is still one of the most potent forwards in the county with a tally of four points from play.
O’Mahonys deservedly led 0-6 to 0-3 at half-time despite enduring a few scares during that opening half.
The challengers might have had two goals in that period, but instead had only one point from play, from Dalton McDonagh, their other two came courtesy of Daniel Queeney frees.
Queeney had a glorious opportunity of putting his side ahead on 16 minutes when Na Fianna were awarded a penalty for a foot block on Ollie Lewis.
However Queeney’s shot was comfortably saved by Marcus Brennan.
Then, just before the break, Brennan kept out an effort from Barry Clancy.
Three points in the opening six minutes of the second half stretched the lead 0-9 to 0-3 and with Jake Regan unerring from placed balls O’Mahonys were always in the ascendancy .
Scorers for O’Mahonys:
J Regan 0-5 (3f, 2 ’45), S Bray 0-4, R O Coileain 0-3 (2f), D Bray 0-1.
Scorers for Na Fianna:
E Devine 1-2 (0-1f), D Queeney 0-4 (4f), B Clancy 0-1, D McDonagh 0-1.
M Brennan; J O’Reilly, N McKeigue, D Smyth; B Dillon, D Maguire, G O’Brien; C McGuinness, K Reilly; R O Coileain, S Bray, A Forde; S Gillespie, D Bray, J Regan.
H Finnegan for Forde (41), R Maguire for Gillespie (59), D Moran for O Coileain (60).
S Geraghty; J Geagan, C Cosgrave, J Baldwin; M Farley, A Neary, D Henrick; O Lewis, B Queeney; D Queeney, J Queeney, E Devine; B Clancy, D McDonagh, C Downey.
D Barrett for B Queeney (h-t), S Barrett for McDonagh (48).
Padraig Coyle (Seneschalstown)
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