When the full time whistle blew at Fr Tully Park, Seneschalstown at 12.20pm on Sunday, both the visitors, Blackhall Gaels and their hosts headed for their respective post game huddles wondering how on earth they didn’t come away with the maximum points on offer. Instead they had to settle for a point apiece as the game ended 0-12 to 0-12.
On paper this looked like the pick of the Meath SFL division two, round two games at the weekend and in terms of competivness and excitement it didn’t disappoint, though the general quality all over the pitch left a lot to be desired at times.
Blackhall Gaels will rue the missed opportunites the most as they kicked wide after wide in the final ten minutes, as well as throwing away a two point lead during the same period. However on the flip side, Liam Keane’s side will be a sense relieved that they didn’t leave empty handed, an outcome that would have been almost certain had Cathal Finnegan’s late goal-bound effort not have flashed wide of David Ferris’ goal.
The tie was Seneschalstown’s first of the year after their first round game was cancelled so they can be excused for their rustiness. It was unusual to see only one Sheridan line out for the home side, with Brian taking his place at midfield. Like their blue and yellow counterparts they are at the beginning of a re-building phase it seems.
Blackhall for their part were looking to bounce back from their disappointing round one loss at home to Castletown and were grateful for the return of Donnacha Healy, James Kelly, Hugh Smith, Stephen Morris and former county man Donnacha Tobin, though Alan Nestor was an absentee through ilness.
Blackhall started the game like they meant business and drew first blood when centre forward Sean Whelan split the posts with a lovely right-footed effort after three minutes before the Yellow Furze men struck three points in a row through wing back Adam Carey, impressive corner forward Cathal Finnegan and Brian Sheridan from a free to put them 3-1 ahead.
The two sides traded points throughout the remainder of the first half without ever really threatening the goal, though David Ferris did pull off a top drawer safe in the Blackhall goals from a Robert Wogan effort, with Ferris’ team mate Daniel Carty clearing the rebound off the line. Paul Kelly, Whelan (2), Sean Healy and Andy Brady (2) raised the white flag for the Gaels while James Meade, Finnegan and Sheridan fired over for Seneschalstown before Wogan levelled matters just on the stroke of half time. Blackahll lost the influential John Kelly to a nasty looking ankle injury early on which didn’t help their cause, with only two substitutes on the bench. H/T Sen 0-7 BHG 0-7
Blackhall started the second half as they did the first, with Paul Kelly this time hitting a left-footed free from the 45-yard line, out near the wing. Finnegan responded almost instantly to tie the game up again, with the dimunitive corner forward wreaking havoc in the Gaels defence.
Both sides were guilty of kicking some relatively easy wides for the remainder but Andy Brady and Donnacha Healy did trade points with Finnegan (2) to leave the sides locked on 0-10 with fifteen minutes remaining. A Whelan free and one of the scores of the day from Paul Kelly, when he made his way past four defenders before blasting over with the outside of the left, put Blackhall two ahead (12-10) and seemingly heading for victory as the game entered its final ten minutes but Finnegan was to have other ideas.
The aforementioned Finnegan, a county minor panelist from last year, struck two superb points from play to level proceedings, to set up a tense final few minutes. A final few minutes that saw both sides squander what would surely have been the winning score. Finnegan blasted his goal effort wide when a point surely would have sufficed but Blackhall were the guiltier of the two, kicking atleast six scoreable shots wide of David Lyons’ goal in the closing moments.
In the end the two senior championship teams had to settle for a point apiece, with both camps left scratching their heads about what might have been. It is only February but improvement is needed. Atleast time is on their side.
Donnacha Tobin kept Blackhall going all day with his endless hard work around the middle, while David Ferris in goal and Stephen Morris, just back from his travels, also impressed. Mark Fox and Adam Carey shone for Seneschalstown at the back while Brian Sheridan (midfield), Robert Wogan and man of the match Finnegan were also to the fore.
F/T Sen 0-12 BHG 0-12
Scorers: Seneschalstown C.Finnegan 0-7, B.Sheridan 0-2, J.Meade 0-1, A.Carey 0-1, R.Wogan 0-1
Blackhall Gaels S.Whelan 0-4, A.Brady 0-3, P.Kelly 0-3, D.Healy 0-1 S.Healy 0-1
Blackhall Gaels: D.Ferris, C.Nally, Dan Carty, James Kelly, D.Healy, P.Brady, H.Smith, P.O’Brien, D.Tobin, S.Morris, S.Whelan, P.Kelly, John Kelly, A.Brady, Dermot Carty Subs: S.Healy for John Kelly (inj), Brian O’Connor for S.Healy