Ratoath march on to final
Ratoath turned on the style in the second-half and coasted into their second successive SFC final with a 1-14 to 1-9 victory over disappointing Summerhill at Pairc Tailteann this evening.
After a tight, tough and tense opening period it was Summerhill who led by a point courtesy of a Barry Dardis penalty, but after the break Summerhill struggled as Ratoath uipped the tempo and pulled clear with a devastating six minute spell that yielded 1-3 and pushed them five clear.
Ratoath signaled their intentions early on with a Jack Flynn point after just 13 seconds, but Summerhill showed plenty of attacking verve against the wind and replied a minute later with a fine score from David Larkin.
Andy Gerard and Conor Rooney pushed Ratoath two clear, 0-3 to 0-1, and for the next 27 minutes that lead shifted from one point to two on several occasions as the sides traded point-for-point.
Conor Frayne made it 0-2 to 0-3 before Bryan McMahon converted the first of his three frees and after John Keane galloped forward for a fine point McMahon added his second free to make it 0-5 to 0-3.
Two successful frees from Dardis, the second an absolute peach from a difficult angle 40 metres out, sandwiched a point from Cian Rogers as Summerhill closed the gap to 0-5 to 0-6, but on the stroke of the half hour Flynn restored a two-point cushion for Ratoath.
However three minutes into injury-time John Lavelle's goal bound run was unceremoniously halted by Conor McGill and referee Cormac Reilly awarded the penalty which Dardis brilliantly despatched to ensure a 1-5 to 0-7 interval lead for Summerhill.
Both sides looked nervous in the opening stages of the second period and it took Ratoath six minutes to restore parity from a Rooney point.
Seconds later Kevin Ryan restored Summerhill's lead, but they failed to add to it as Dardis missed a free and Frayne snatched at a decent chance.
After those let-offs Ratoath took over. Two outstanding points from Rooney and Flynn restored Ratoath's lead and when Daithi McGowan pointed after a clever one-two with Cian O'Brien it gave Ratoath a two-point lead again, 0-11 to 1-6.
That advantage quickly became five when Lavelle fouled O'Brien inside the large square to concede a penalty and after he was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes Rogers converted from the spot to put Ratoath in the driving seat and they never looked back.
The closing quarter was a foregone conclusion. Summerhill huffed and puffed, but, apart from a half chance for Davy Dalton that was well smothered by Ben Wyer, they never looked like creating the goal chance they needed.
Connell Ahearne marked his introduction with a point before Dardis ended Summerhill's 17-minute barren spell to close the gap to five again.
Daithi McGowan and Dardis (free) traded points and in injury-time Diarmuid McCabe and McMahon (free) did the same as Ratoath free-wheeled over the finish line to maintain the defence of their Keegan Cup crown.
Ratoath - Cian Rogers 1-1 1-0 penalty; Jack Flynn 0-3; Conor Rooney 0-3;Bryan McMahon 0-3 frees; Daithi McGowan 0-2; Connell Ahearne 0-1; Andy Gerard 0-1.
Summerhill - Barry Dardis 1-4 1-0 penalty, three frees; David Larkin 0-1; Conor Frayne 0-1; John Keane 0-1; Kevin Ryan 0-1; Diarmuid McCabe 0-1.
Ratoath – Shane Duffy; Ciaran O Fearraigh, Conor McGill, Ben Wyer; Jack Gillespie, Gavin McGowan, Andy Gerard; Ben McGowan, Darragh Kelly; Daithi McGowan, Cian Rogers, Conor Rooney; Cian O'Brien, Bryan McMahon, Jack Flynn. Subs - Keith McCabe for Kelly half-time, Connell Ahearne for O'Brien 52 mins, Emmett Boyle for Gillespie 53m, Brian O'Connor for Rogers 58m, Jack McGowan for Rooney 62m.
Summerhill - Tony McDonnell; Iarla Hughes, Ronan Ryan, John Lavelle; Jack Bannon, John Keane, Ross Ryan; Diarmuid McCabe, Micheal Byrne; David Larkin, Liam Shaw, Kevin Ryan; David Dalton, Barry Dardis, Conor Frayne. Sub - Paul Larkin for Shaw 54 mins.
Referee - Cormac Reilly (St Mary's).