FIVE STAR PERFORMANCE FROM RATOATH’S UNDER-17S
Ratoath 5-4 Na Fianna 1-6
A storming second half performance saw Ratoath power to victory and turn the tables on a strong Na Fianna side, who beat them at the final hurdle the previous year.
Team captain Cian Rogers deserved to keep the match sliotar after a virtuoso hat-trick summed up the quality of the Ratoath challenge. But this championship title was built on the all-round work ethic and never-say-die spirit from everyone involved, right throughout the campaign.
Ciarán Briody was smart and alert in goal and his first half clean sheet was part of a solid defensive effort in a dogged period where scores were hard to come by.
Cian Kelly and David McGowan were getting through an amount of effort around the middle and Seanie Johnson was a constant threat up front. Apart from a strong ball-winning presence, he almost goaled only to see his shot well saved. The inside line of Jason Farrell, Cian Rogers and Fionn Murphy too, looked just one pass away from getting in on a number of occasions.
Cathal Sherlock, Padraig Byrne and Aaron O’Flaherty were rock solid in the half-back line and it was nip and tuck at the break, Na Fianna just edging ahead 0-4 to 0-3.
On a cold morning in Dunganny that made every ball a battle, the first goal was going to be crucial. And it came from Rogers who took the pass from Fionn Murphy to fire the ball low to the net.
That was the signal for Ratoath to really start playing. With Niall McLarnon a towering presence in the full-back line, ably flanked by Ruairí Coulter and Adam Whelan, the defence held firm in the face of the Na Fianna challenge.
Padraig Byrne too came storming into the game.
Ciaran Briody’s astute puck-out was taken down by Cian Rogers, who set off on a direct run at the heart of the opposition defence, riding one tackle before sending a stinging shot to the net off his hurl. That put Ratoath in a dominant position and with Tadhg McCann, Shane McGoldrick and Alex O’Kane helping to feed the inside line, Fionn Murphy pounced for another sweet goal.
Na Fianna didn’t give up and found the net themselves, but McGoldrick sweated the keeper from close range to find the net and Rogers completed his hat-trick, as Ratoath clinched championship honours and the double to go with their under-17 football title.
Ratoath: Ciarán Briody. Ruairí Coulter, Niall McLarnon, Adam Whelan; Cathal Sherlock, Padraig Byrne, Aaron O’Flaherty, David McGowan, Cian Kelly, Tadhg McCann, Shane McGoldrick, Sean Johnson, Jason Farrell, Cian Rogers, Fionn Murphy. Squad: Alex O’Kane for Jason Farrell, Stephen Rice, Aidan McLarnon, Aaron Kelly, Seán Brazil, Jack Lanigan, Marc Donnelly, Sean Murphy, James Duffy, Brian Moore
Scorers: Cian Rogers 3-3 (3fs), Fionn Murphy 1-1, Shane McGoldrick 1-0