SFC Final v Ratoath

Report courtesy of RTE Sports (https://www.rte.ie/sport/football/2022/1016/1329493-managerial-tempers-flare-as-ratoath-rule-in-meath/)

Ratoath 0-12 Summerhill 0-11

Ratoath manager David Brady was dramatically red carded following a remarkable late skirmish at Páirc Tailteann as his side held firm to secure their third Meath title in four seasons at the expense of Summerhill. The Mayo great was sent tumbling to the ground by opposing Summerhill manager Conor Gillespie who was also shown red in the dying stages of the encounter. A foul conceded initially by Ratoath’s Eamon Wallace for a high challenge sparked the incident, though both Brady and Wallace later shook hands and even hugged on the pitch after the final whistle. On the field of play, three Ratoath points from Daithi McGowan, Jack Flynn and Wallace between the 50th and 53rd minutes ultimately proved decisive. The sides had been level with 10 minutes to go but those scores propelled Ratoath clear and all Summerhill could muster in reply was additional time points from Eoghan Frayne and sub Eamonn McDonnell. Ratoath’s reward is a Leinster club quarter-final clash with Offaly winners Rhode, back in Navan, on 6 November.

Ratoath fielded without Joey Wallace again due to a serious knee injury though they were buoyed by the late addition of the county attacker to the subs’ bench, wearing number 30. His older brother, fellow Meath panellist Eamon, is best known as an attacker though has been redeployed in the half-back line by his club and excelled, striking 0-03. It was a canny move that has allowed the speedy Wallace to exploit his searing pace and he burst forward for two important points in the first half. Ratoath surged 0-04 to 0-01 clear initially to hint that their favourites’ tag was well merited. But three Summerhill points in a row, two from free-taker Conor Lyons who was a late addition to the line-up, hauled them right back into it. Ratoath took off again with four more points in a row, two of those coming from wing-back Wallace who showed his skillset by splitting the posts off both feet, to take a deserved 0-08 to 0-05 half-time lead.

It looked as if Brady’s side might pull decisively clear and heap more misery on the club they beat in the 2019 decider, when Ratoath won their first ever senior decider. Summerhill dominated the third quarter, however, to once again haul themselves right back into contention, this time levelling it up at 0-09 apiece after 43 minutes. Two of their four points during the mini blitz of scoring came from frees as county underage star Eoghan Frayne capitalised, while David Larkin kicked the score of the day off the outside of his right boot following a terrific run. The sides remained deadlocked with 10 minutes to go and Ratoath, craving inspiration, sprung Joey Wallace from the bench. He couldn’t deliver and unfortunately broke down in the closing minutes and had to be lifted off the pitch. But there was consolation for Wallace in the sight of his Ratoath colleagues Daithi McGowan, player of the match Jack Flynn and sibling Eamon firing the crucial points that sealed another landmark win for the club.

Summerhill did their best to reel Ratoath in, striking those two late, late scores but when the final whistle was sounded and the dust had settled following the dramatic melee, Ratoath were crowned victors.

Ratoath: Dara McPartlin; Ciaran O Fearraigh, Ben Wyer, Conor McGill; Brian Daly, Gavin McGowan, Eamon Wallace (0-03); Ben McGowan, Jack Flynn (0-01); Conor Rooney, Bobby O’Brien (0-01, 0-01m), Keith McCabe; Bryan McMahon (0-03, 0-02fs), Daithi McGowan (0-03, 0-02fs), Cian Rogers (0-01).

Subs: Cian O’Brien for Daithi McGowan (35-42), Joey Wallace for O’Brien (42), O’Brien for Rooney (45), Padraic Byrne for Joey Wallace (58), Andy Gerrard for Gavin McGowan (60).

Summerhill: Tony McDonnell; John Lavelle, Ronan Ryan, Ross Ryan; Padhraig Geraghty (0-01), Padraig Jennings, Adam McDonnell; Micheal Byrne, Adam Flanagan; David Larkin (0-01), Diarmuid McCabe (0-01, 0-01f), Kevin Ryan; Eoghan Frayne (0-04, 0-02fs), Conor Frayne (0-01), Conor Lyons (0-02, 0-02fs).

Subs: Barry Dardis for Lyons (ht), Eamonn McDonnell (0-01) for Dardis (35), Liam Shaw for Ryan (39), Iarla Hughes for Jennings (50), William Ryan for McDonnell (54).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Naomh Mhuire).