Fri 25th Sep

The biggest day of the underage calendar is upon us with the final of the LMFM Minor Football Championship which will see Dunshaughlin and St. Colmcilles meet in what has the potential to be a final for the ages.

 

Division 1 Final

 

Sunday September 27 – 13:00

Dunshaughlin v St. Colmcilles

Referee – Derek Ryan (Na Fianna)

Standby Referee – Keith Sheerin (Drumconrath)

Linesman – Joseph Curran (St. Michael’s)

Sideline Official – Robbie Barrett (Walterstown)

Venue – Páirc Tailteann

 

Path to the final – Dunshaughlin:

Rd. 1 Dunshaughlin (6-16) (0-07) Skryne Venue – Dunshaughlin
Rd. 2 Dunshaughlin (1-18) (1-05) Ratoath Venue – Ratoath
Rd. 3 Dunshaughlin (0-12) (5-12) St. Colmcilles Venue – Dunshaughlin
Semi-Final Dunshaughlin (3-17) (1-06) Summerhill Venue – Summerhill
Total Dunshaughlin (10-63) (7-30) Opposition  

 

 

Path to the final – St. Colmcilles:

Rd. 1 St. Colmcilles (3-12) (2-06) Ratoath Venue – Piltown
Rd. 2 St. Colmcilles Walkover Conceded Skryne Venue – Skryne
Rd. 3 St. Colmcilles (5-12) (0-12) Dunshaughlin Venue – Dunshaughlin
Semi-Final St. Colmcilles (3-18) (0-07) St. Peter’s Dunboyne Venue – Piltown
Total St. Colmcilles (11-42) (2-25) Opposition  

 

The decider many anticipated we would be treated to has indeed come to fruition and what a game we could have on Sunday as Dunshaughlin and St. Colmcilles meet in the LMFM MFC Division 1 decider.  These teams met in Round 3 of the group stage in what was little more than a dead rubber encounter when the ‘Cilles romped to victory in Dunshaughlin but the suspicion remains that the home side were not at full tilt that evening and could well be a different animal come Sunday.

 

Action from the 2019 U-16 Division 1 League Final between Dunshaughlin & St. Colmcilles. Pic via Declan Lynch

 

St. Colmcilles have won all before them coming through the age grades with this group of players with only two exceptions when Dunshaughlin defeated them in the U-15 7 a-side Final two years ago and then when the Kieran O’Riordan managed side repeated the trick when putting in a sensational performance in the U-16 Football League Final last year in Páirc Tailteann.

 

Both of these sides showed that they without doubt the two best Minor teams in the county when easily accounting for the challenges of St. Peter’s Dunboyne and Summerhill in the semi-finals with the St. Colmcilles showing in the livestreamed game in Piltown being particularly eye catching.  Seasoned observers commented in the aftermath that it was the most complete team performance they had seen from a Minor side in many years with each player excelling.

 

There is very little these sides won’t know about each other having met on countless occasions over the years as they came through the age grades and with nine members of the extended Meath Minor panel shared between the clubs as well as many who would likely have been on the Meath U-16 Development Panel this year only for Covid-19 to intervene, there is no shortage of talent shared between the sides. St. Colmcilles are sweating over the fitness of Liam Stafford who picked up an injury since the semi-final in which he kicked 1-05 from play coming from his midfield berth and if he fails to come through and start then it will be a massive blow for the seasiders and could potentially swing the game in favour of Dunshaughlin.

 

St. Colmcilles are perennially one of the pre-championship favourites and this year was no exception and Gerry White’s charges have worn that mantle well and the depth of talent which he has to choose from is illustrated by the fact their second minor side are playing in the Division 3 Final on Saturday morning against St. Michael’s/Nobber in Dunganny.  Their goalkeeper David O’Brien missed the semi-final through injury but Oisín Brennan who on Tuesday will captain their U-15 side in the Paddy O’Brien Cup Final against Seneschalstown from centre back, slotted in between the posts and played as though he had been there all his life.  That strength in depth could prove to be key come 13:00 on Sunday.

 

Dunshaughlin appeared to take massive belief from that U-15 7-side success in 2018 when winning the final on home turf and kicked on when winning the U-16 League last year.  With their Senior side in a battle to avoid relegation to the Intermediate ranks, a win here in the Minor final would serve as a massive boost to the club.  Players such as Donagh McCarrick, Jared Rushe & Ruairí Kinsella are all highly promising talents and are all capable of progressing to be key players for their club at the highest level in years to come. They are coming into this final somewhat under the radar with all the talk about St. Colmcilles but if Dunshaughlin hit top form then they are more than capable of winning.

 

Coiste Mionúir Chairman Ray Finnegan will have the pleasure of handing over the Delaney Cup to the winning captain and the suspicion lingers that while Dunshaughlin are capable of pulling off a first MFC victory since 2009, St. Colmcilles are the more likely to be celebrating come the final whistle with joint captains Caolan Nulty and Liam Stafford to be the ones receiving the famous trophy.

 

Key match ups:

 

Conor Gray v Sean O’Donoghue – When these sides met in last year’s U-16 decider, Gray’s performance was stunning as he lorded the aerial exchanges throughout the hour in what was one of the best displays of midfield play ever seen at juvenile level in Páirc Tailteann.  St. Colmcilles will be well aware of the threat he poses in the air, but he is also a fine footballer who can cover the ground to great effect and is well able to play ball.  Sean O’Donoghue is preparing to feature in his third Delaney Cup decider having come on as a sub in 2018 before starring in the 2019 final.  He may not be the traditional style midfielder like Gray, but he is more in the mould of the modern all action centerfield player.  O’Donoghue has a massive engine on him and is likely to cover every blade of grass on Sunday.

 

Godfrey Ehichoya v Fursey Blake – This pair are colleagues on the Meath Minor panel, and both are likely to line out at right half back for their clubs on Sunday. Ehichoya is a dynamic, all action footballer and is the archetypal wing back who will risk his own safety to make sure he is the player who comes away with the ball while he is also adept at breaking upfield to set up attacks.  Fursey Blake is part of a half back line for Dunshaughlin that is generally rock solid, and their solidity allows the flair players excel further upfield.  He is likely to pick up Adam Daly and if Blake can keep him quiet then Dunshaughlin will be taking a big step towards claiming a second ever Delaney Cup.

 

Action from the 2019 U-16 Division 1 League Final between Dunshaughlin & St. Colmcilles. Pic via Declan Lynch

 

John McDonagh v Luke Hanan – Grandson of Leitrim legend Packie McGarty, John McDonagh is a vital cog in the Dunshaughlin attack.  A playmaker in the half forward line, he will be looking to break down the ‘Cilles defence while he is also capable of chipping in with vital scores when necessary.  Whoever picks him up will be in for a busy afternoon.  Luke Hanan was in brilliant form in their semi-final win, notching three points from play and if he hits top form on Sunday then it will be a major boost for St. Colmcilles in their efforts to land the Delaney Cup again this year.

Verdict – St. Colmcilles

 

** The Dunshaughlin v St. Colmcilles game will be livestreamed on Ideal Bathrooms MeathGAATV on Sunday.  There is a link on the Meath GAA website and all social media channels to subscribe.  The cost to view is €5.

 

Division 1 Shield Final

 

Saturday September 26 – 17:00

Duleek-Bellewstown v Ratoath (Extra-Time if necessary)

Referee – Joseph Curran (St. Michael’s)

Venue – Dunganny 1

 

The final which neither side set out to be in back in August when the Championship got underway could well turn out to be one of the best of the weekend with these two sides both full of talent and without the potential pressure of the big day in Páirc Tailteann.  Duleek-Bellewstown showed plenty of character to grind out a result in the semi-final against Skryne on a night when they failed to hit top form but it is that character which is likely to stand them in good stead as they progress towards adult football.

 

Ratoath were tipped here at the start of the Championship as likely winners of the competition but finding themselves in the Group of Death alongside Dunshaughlin and St. Colmcilles proved too high a hurdle for them to vault.  Nonetheless theirs is a panel stacked with talent and they are capable of finishing the Championship on a positive note and pick up the win here.

 

Verdict – Ratoath

 

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