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Who will be the first teams to book their place in the 2022 LMFM MFC Finals?

Mon 26th Sep

Who will be the first teams to book their place in the 2022 LMFM MFC Finals?

The first of the semi-finals in the LMFM Minor Football Championship take place on Monday evening with a Division 1 game and a Division 4 encounter to look forward to on what promises to be an excellent evening of football in the Meath GAA Centre of Excellence.

 

The Division 1 game sees unbeaten Donaghmore/Ashbourne take on a St. Colmcille’s side who came through with a record of two wins from three games in the group stage of the Championship.

 

In Division 4 it is a duel of two Independent Teams with St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels coming in off the back of a 100% record in the group stages and they will take on Bective/Dunsany who required a win on the last day to book their place in the last four.

 

Division 1

 

Donaghmore/Ashbourne v St. Colmcille’s

Referee:  Keith Sheerin (Drumconrath)

Standby Referee: Owen Ganly (Trim)

Linesman:  Andrew Smith (Dunshaughlin)

 

Throw in:  19:45 (Dunganny Pitch 2)

 

The first of the Division 1 Championship semi-finals promises to be a cracking game with these two teams being without a shadow of a doubt among the top Minor teams in the county.  St. Colmcille’s have been there or thereabouts coming through the age grades, regularly contesting finals in the top division while Donaghmore/Ashbourne have been somewhat slower burners in terms of development but as now appears customary, the Moors have timed their run very well and now appear to be the favourites to land the much-coveted Delany Cup.

 

In recent times these two clubs have been the dominant force at the Minor grade, something which is reflective of the numbers both have available to them as well as having club academies which are the envy of many in the county. These are proof positive that having large numbers alone is not a guarantee of success but excellent people putting in mountains of hard work in fostering these numbers is the real reason why they have been so potent at the Minor grade.

 

An impressive feature of Donaghmore/Ashbourne’s path to the semi-final has been their miserly defence which has coughed up just 4-24 across the three games in the group stage.  Anchored by county minor Aidan Mackey at centre back, the Moors defence is a cohesive unit and they denied space to the dangerous Ratoath forward line the last day out, conceding only one score every ten minutes. The St. Colmcille’s attack has been averaging 2-12 per game and it will be fascinating to see how they deal with the challenges posed by the miserly Donaghmore/Ashbourne rear-guard.

 

The likely battle at midfield between Donaghmore/Ashbourne’s duo of Patrick Moran and Evan O’Kane with the St. Colmcille’s pairing of Conor Murphy and Mahon Hall is one that is sure to get pulses racing with both pairings being excellent in the air while O’Kane possesses a keen eye for a score coming from deep.  Students of the game within the county will recognise the name Hall from the ‘Cilles, with Mahon’s father Caimin being an All-Ireland Minor Football Championship winner all of thirty years ago, back in 1992.

 

A key player up front for St. Colmcille’s is their centre forward Tadg Duff.  Duff was a feature on Meath Development Panels until his rugby commitments saw him having to opt off before this years Minor Panel became finalised.  A very talented dual player, his ability to eke out scores from the half forward line is pivotal to the Cille’s chances.  Whether Aidan Mackey is given a man marking job on him or not on Monday evening will be fascinating to observe although there are some rumours emanating from Piltown that Duff could be a potential injury doubt.  Could this be true, or might there be a touch of gamesmanship in these rumours?

 

Action from the LMFM MFL Div. 1 Final between Donaghmore/Ashbourne and St. Colmcille’s. Image via Brian Mulligan.

 

Donaghmore/Ashbourne have a plethora of potential match winners up front with Zach Thornton, Michael O’Sullivan and Matthew Scanlon all having pulled on the Meath jersey this year.  O’Sullivan will be returning to the venue where he turned in arguably his finest hour when delivering a hat trick in the 2021 LMFM MFL Division 1 League Final victory over Ratoath.  If this trio catch fire, then it will be hard to see how the St. Colmcille’s defence can collectively hold them, though the likely match up between Oisín Brennan at centre back and Thornton could be worth the admission fee alone.  Incredibly Brennan is lining out in his third LMFM MFC Division 1 semi-final for the East Meath outfit.

 

Donaghmore/Ashbourne Management Team:  Ronan Murphy, Joe Kelly, John Maguire, Stephen O’Brien, Tom Feehan, Pat Collins and Richie McCullen. Vinny Carton, Karl O’Kane, Martin Lynch, Niall O’Sullivan, Stephen Doran, Keith Ward, Shane Melia and Paul Walton.

 

St. Colmcille’s Management Team:  Ronan Murphy, Joe Kelly, John Maguire, Stephen O’Brien, Tom Feehan, Pat Collins and Richie McCullen.

 

Donaghmore/Ashbourne Path to the Semi-Final:

Round         Venue
1 Donaghmore/Ashbourne (3-08) (1-10) Gaeil Colmcille Ashbourne
2 Donaghmore/Ashbourne (3-05) (1-10) Oldcastle Millbrook
3 Donaghmore/Ashbourne (1-16) (2-04) Ratoath Ratoath

 

St. Colmcille’s Path to the Semi-Final:

Round         Venue
1 St. Colmcille’s (3-14) (2-08) Skryne Skryne
2 St. Colmcille’s (1-09) (2-14) Seneschalstown Páirc Uí Rís, Piltown
3 St. Colmcille’s (2-13) (1-11) St. Patrick’s Páirc Uí Rís, Piltown

 

Verdict:  Donaghmore/Ashbourne

 

Division 4

 

St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels v Bective/Dunsany

Referee:  Patrick Clarke (Kilmainhamwood)

 

Throw in:  19:30 (Dunganny Pitch 1)

 

The Division 4 semi-final between St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels and Bective/Dunsany is a fascinating encounter between two Independent Teams.  St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels confounded the predictions of yours truly to impressively march through the group stage of the Championship with a 100% record.

 

A notable feature of their performances in the group stage of the Championship was their prolific goal scoring, averaging four majors per game.  This contrasts beautifully with the Bective/Dunsany defence which has only conceded on average one goal per game.  Something has got to give on Monday evening, will the Bective/Dunsany dam burst or will it hold firm against the goal hungry St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels attack.

 

Conor Finnegan has been showing well for the St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels combination at full forward and he is a handful for any full back.  If he gets enough ball then Finnegan can cause wreck in the Bective/Dunsany defence but with St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels having won the League Final in Finnegan’s absence back in August, they are far from over reliant on the youngster wearing the no.14 jersey.  In Jake Coyne and Alex Casserly, they also possess two very talented forwards who are more than capable of keeping the umpires busy.

 

For Bective/Dunsany, heartbreak in this decider in 2021 has helped fuel their desire to go one better this season.  They though appear to have suffered an early blow with David Donnelly’s name not appearing on the team sheet submitted to the Minor Board over the weekend.  Donnelly is a huge player for them and if he is to be absent then it is a major blow.  They do though have plenty of talent elsewhere on the pitch with Meath Minor hurler Harry Cahill one to watch out for in the middle of the field.  Christopher Greene has been motoring well at centre back and looks like a potential star for the future while up front, Ben Sherlock is a very dangerous option at corner forward.

 

Image via Brian Mulligan

 

St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels Path to the Semi-Final:

Round         Venue
1 St. Ultan’s / Cortown Gaels (4-08) (0-13) Simonstown Gaels Cortown
2 St. Ultan’s / Cortown Gaels (3-11) (1-14) Summerhill Summerhill
3 St. Ultan’s / Cortown Gaels (5-12) (2-09) St. Patrick’s Páirc Uí Rís, Piltown

 

Bective/Dunsany Path to the Semi-Final:

Round         Venue
1 Bective/Dunsany (2-17) (1-06) Ballivor Bective
2 Bective/Dunsany (0-08) (1-13) Blackhall Gaels Kilcloon
3 Bective/Dunsany (3-11) (1-10) Clann na nGael Dunsany

 

Verdict:  St. Ultan’s/Cortown Gaels

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