Gaels in shake-up af­ter St Vin­cent’s shock exit

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT - BY SEAN WALL

DREAMS of provin­cial suc­cess may be some­what pre­ma­ture, but Si­mon­stown Gaels’ chances were en­hanced by hap­pen­ings else­where fol­low­ing this maiden vic­tory in the Le­in­ster Club Cham­pi­onship at Wex­ford Park on Sun­day.

The Meath rep­re­sen­ta­tives recorded a pretty straight­for­ward win in their quar­ter-fi­nal tie, but it was Rath­new’s shock vic­tory over cham­pi­ons St Vin­cent’s which threw the race for out­right hon­ours wide open.

Colm O’Rourke’s side now meet St Lo­man’s Mullingar in one semi-fi­nal on Sun­day week, while St Vin­cent’s con­querors take on Moore­field (Kil­dare) in the other last-four tie and all four teams left will feel they have a re­al­is­tic chance fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of the Dublin cham­pi­ons.

Si­mon­stown started with­out mid­fielder Conor Nash who has re­turned to his AFL club Hawthorn in Mel­bourne, while reg­u­lar cen­tre back Brian Con­lon only came on in the sec­ond half.

How­ever, it didn’t take long

SI­MON­STOWN GAELS 1-12 STARLIGHTS 0-8

for Si­mon­stown to es­tab­lish a foothold on pro­ceed­ings and four points in the open­ing seven min­utes proved just the tonic. Nathan O’Brien had them ahead on two min­utes be­fore Sean Tobin, Niall McMa­hon and Conor Sheri­dan added to the tally.

Alan Tobin even­tu­ally had the home side off the mark and Dar­ragh Pep­per added an­other point be­fore Si­mon­stown struck for the game’s only goal to­wards the end of the first quar­ter. It was Sean Tobin who pro­vided the fin­ish fol­low­ing a sweep­ing move and that set up the vis­i­tors for a 1-5 to 0-4 in­ter­val lead.

That lead stretched fur­ther in the third quar­ter and Si­mon­stown were cruis­ing af­ter open­ing up a 1-8 to 0-5 lead by the 44th minute. Padraig McKeever (free) and Ricky Fox ex­changed points early in the sec­ond half, and with Shane O’Rourke and James Kil­cullen dom­i­nant at mid­field Si­mon­stown pressed home their ad­van­tage.

McKeever and Tobin both added to their tal­lies and Starlights, who were sur­prise win­ners of the Wex­ford ti­tle, could never get into con­tention af­ter that.

Si­mon­stown will be seek­ing a first fi­nal ap­pear­ance by a Meath club when they take on the West­meath cham­pi­ons since Skryne reached the provin­cial de­cider back in 2004.

SI­MON­STOWN GAELS: Rob­bie Burling­ham; Niall McMa­hon 0-1, Stephen Moran, Shane Gal­lagher; Niall Kane, Roz O’Con­nor, Brian McGrath 0-1; Shane O’Rourke 0-2, James Kil­cullen; Sea­mus Kenny, Sean Tobin 1-2, Mark McCabe; Nathan O’Brien 0-1, Conor Sheri­dan 0-1, Padraig McKeever 0-4 (3f). Subs: Brian Con­lon for O’Con­nor, Joe Lyons for McCabe, Michael Bren­nan for Nathan O’Brien, Nicky O’Brien for Kenny, Eanna Donoghue for Kane, Ben Hoey for Tobin.

STARLIGHTS: P Doyle; R O’Con­nor, T Wall, M Doyle; J Kelly, R Fox 0-1, K Fo­ley; L Ryan, R Far­rell; A Tobin 0-2 (1f), N Doyle, D Red­mond 0-1; D Pep­per 0-1, E Fur­long, R Ma­hon 0-3 (1f). Reps: A Dobbs for Fur­long(42), B Ed­wards for Far­rell (50).

REF: A Nolan (Wick­low)

Pic­ture: Piaras Ó Míd­heach/Sports­file

Padraig McKeever holds aloft the Kee­gan Cup af­ter vic­tory in the Meath SFC. Now Si­mon­stown Gaels have their sights on a Le­in­ster crown.

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