Dun­boyne are poised to end 13-year wait

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT - SEAN WALL FIX­TURES

AT THE start of this year’s SFC cam­paign both Dun­boyne and Sum­mer­hill would have been short-listed to make it through to the de­cider.

Un­like some of the other grades, the se­nior cham­pi­onship is usu­ally ruled by a hand­ful of teams and the chances of an out­sider up­set­ting the odds is quite slim.

What is surprising about this Sun­day’s de­cider, which has a 3.30 throw-in, is that it is Dun­boyne’s first fi­nal ap­pear­ance since they last cap­tured the Kee­gan Cup in 2005.

That suc­cess 13 years ago was over­shad­owed some­what by con­tro­versy as they lost at the semi-fi­nal stage to Na­van O’Ma­hony’s 1-12 to 1-14 fol­low­ing ex­tra time. How­ever, the Dun­boyne men were awarded the match af­ter O’Ma­hony’s were found to have in­tro­duced too many subs in ad­di­tional time.

Dun­boyne then made the most of their good for­tune by de­feat­ing Black­hall Gaels in the fi­nal to be crowned cham­pi­ons for only the sec­ond time in their his­tory.

That winning side had present Meath se­nior man­ager Andy McEn­tee at cen­tre for­ward, while David Gal­lagher was cen­tre back and he could have a part to play on Sun­day if he has re­cov­ered fully from the in­jury that forced him to miss the semi-fi­nal win over cham­pi­ons Si­mon­stown.

Gal­lagher lined out in the goals in the 1998 fi­nal win over Old­cas­tle and it will be a re­mark­able suc­cess for the for­mer county player if he can make it a hat-trick of wins 20 years af­ter his first suc­cess.

Dun­boyne are prob­a­bly the great un­der-achiev­ers in the se­nior grade in re­cent years. Si­mon­stown ended their hopes at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage in the past two years, while their hopes were ended by O’Ma­hony’s in 2015.

Like many other ar­eas along the com­muter belt, the pop­u­la­tion of Dun­boyne has swelled over the years and the club has built on that with suc­cess at un­der­age level. They were also boosted in 2016 by the ac­qui­si­tion of St Pere­grines (Dublin) duo Rob­bie McCarthy and Stu­art Lown­des. Both could have ma­jor roles to play in the fi­nal, with McCarthy in par­tic­u­lar a po­ten­tial match-win­ner.

For Sum­mer­hill boss John Lyons, who en­joyed great suc­cess as a player with the club when they won four-in-a-row in the 1970s, he will be try­ing to avoid an un­wanted three-in-a-row on Sun­day.

Lyons was man­ager of Na Fianna when they lost the 2013 de­cider to, iron­i­cally enough, Sum­mer­hill. He was then in charge of the ‘Hill when they lost heav­ily to hold­ers Si­mon­stown in last year’s fi­nal.

The ‘Hill go into the de­cider not only with the ex­pe­ri­ence of 12 months ago, but many of the team will have tasted suc­cess fol­low­ing the fi­nal wins of 2011 and more re­cently 2013.

They failed to do them­selves jus­tice 12 months ago af­ter record­ing an im­pres­sive semi-fi­nal win over Gaeil Colm­cille and will be in­tent on mak­ing up for that fail­ing sec­ond time around.

The ‘Hill suf­fered just one de­feat in the group stages, an open­ing-round blip to Gaeil Colm­cille, los­ing 0-12 to 2-14. Since then they have pro­duced some im­pres­sive dis­plays and posted big scor­ing tal­lies, net­ting 15 goals in their five group matches.

They added an­other brace in their 2-19 to 3-10 quar­ter-fi­nal win over St Colm­cille’s, and then reg­is­tered 3-12 in their semi-fi­nal vic­tory in a last-four clash over Don­agh­more/Ash­bourne.

Dun­boyne’s big­gest task on Sun­day will likely be pre­vent­ing Sum­mer­hill from scor­ing goals. If they can do that they will be well on their way to their third se­nior ti­tle.

They go into the fi­nal with an un­beaten record, their only ‘blemish’ a draw in their fi­nal group match with Dun­shaugh­lin when they were al­ready as­sured of top spot in their group.

It took them ex­tra time to over­come Gaeil Colm­cille at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage and they ended Si­mon­stown’s three-in-a-row as­pi­ra­tions with an im­pres­sive 2-16 to 0-8 semi-fi­nal win.

St Joseph’s CBS Drogheda vice prin­ci­pal Sean Kelly joined the club as coach at the start of the year along­side man­ager Ciaran Byrne who was a Kee­gan Cup-winning cap­tain with Dun­shaugh­lin in 2001.

They have been boosted in re­cent games by the re­turn of Ro­nan Jones who com­mutes for games from the States where he is study­ing at present. Doubts sur­round the fit­ness of both David Gal­lagher and wing back Cathal Finn who limped out of the semi-fi­nal af­ter just three min­utes.

The out­come could be de­cided on how well the Dun­boyne full back line fares against Sum­mer­hill’s main scor­ing threats of Davy and Sean Dal­ton and Barry Dardis.

Dun­boyne will look to get a rea­son­able re­turn from the likes of Donal Leni­han, McCarthy, Lown­des and David McEn­tee in their at­tack.

Sum­mer­hill will be des­per­ate to make up for the dis­ap­point­ment of last year. How­ever, Dun­boyne showed in their semi-fi­nal win over Si­mon­stown that they have the ca­pac­ity de­fen­sively to deal with what­ever the op­po­si­tion might throw at them and they get the vote. Car­lanstown: Si­mon­stown Gaels v Gaeil Colm­cille, Feis Cup, 8.0, Pa­trick Coyle. Ballinlough: Clann na nGael v Moy­lagh, Tail­teann Cup, 8.0, S O’Con­nor.

Dun­ganny: Bal­livor v Dun­sany, Tail­teann Cup, 8.0, P Melia.

WED­NES­DAY OC­TO­BER 10

Dun­ganny: St Ul­tan’s v Trim, Corn na Boinne, 8.0, S Ga­han.

FRI­DAY OC­TO­BER 12

Skryne: Don­agh­more/Ash­bourne v Si­mon­stown Gaels, B League Div 1 fi­nal, 8.0, P Clarke.

SATUR­DAY OC­TO­BER 13

Paddy O’Brien Park: Sy­d­dan v Dun­derry, Corn na Boinne, 7.0, T Lor­ton.

TBC: Wolfe Tones v Na Fianna or Ra­toath, Feis Cup.

SUN­DAY OC­TO­BER 14

Pairc Tail­teann: St Colm­cille’s v Don­agh­more/ Ash­bourne, MFC Fi­nal,

1.30, L O’Brien; Sum­mer­hill v St Peter’s Dun­boyne, SFC fi­nal, 3.30, C McManus (ex­tra-time if nec­es­sary).

TBC: Slane v Clann naGael or Moy­lagh, Tail­teann Cup, 11.30.

Picture: Matt Browne/Sports­file

David Gal­lagher, pic­tured (right) cel­e­brat­ing Dun­boyne’s 2005 Kee­gan Cup tri­umph against Black­hall Gaels with team­mate Barry Wat­ters, is tar­get­ing a third Se­nior ti­tle next Sun­day but is an in­jury doubt go­ing into the de­cider.

Davy Dal­ton of Sum­mer­hill, pic­tured against Si­mon­stown’s Stephen Mo­ran in last year’s Se­nior de­cider, will be a big threat to Dun­boyne’s chances next Sun­day.

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