Gaels in shake-up after St Vincent’s shock exit
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 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.
Padraig McKeever holds aloft the Keegan Cup after victory in the Meath SFC. Now Simonstown Gaels have their sights on a Leinster crown.