Dunboyne are poised to end 13-year wait
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.
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.