A first half to forget but a second to remember for Walterstown as they booked their place in the last four of the Intermediate Football Championship in Ratoath on Saturday evening.
Meade Farm Intermediate Football Championship Quarter Final
Blackhall Gaels: 0-5
Two goals in two minutes after the re-start, courtesy of Ruairi O’Dowd and Sam McCabe respectively, set the Blacks on their way to victory. While down the other end, ‘keeper John Davis was on form in keeping Blackhall out, while midfield man Conor O’Sullivan also cleared a goal bound effort from the line to ensure Martin O’Connell’s men marched on.
Walterstown went in to this quarter final encounter without the services of Brian McGrane who picked up a shoulder injury in training, while Davy Donnellan also missed out through injury. In to the rearguard came Eoghan O’Mahony, who more than ably deputised at full back in McGrane’s absence. Alan Wall moved from defence to the middle of the park and had a superb 60 minutes, even chipping in with two points in the second half.
In attack, as expected, Brian O’Connell was a marked man at full forward but Ruairi O’Dowd certainly stepped up to the mark and contributed handsomely. So too did Sam McCabe, who finished up a personally tally of 1-2 from his corner forward position.
These two teams met back in June in the second round of the Corn na Boinne in Kilcloon and on that occasion Blackhall emerged victorious on a 2-10 to 2-15 scoreline. Ahead of Saturday’s encounter many believed this was going to be too close to call, however, it was anything but in the end.
The opening 30 minutes on Saturday were dire. Indeed, we had to wait some 14 minutes before a score was put on the board. It came from Blackhall defender Donnacha Healy just a few minutes after his team mate John Kelly was shown a red card for a foul on Ruairi O’Dowd.
Walterstown were most wasteful in the first quarter. Uncharacteristically Brian O’Connell dropped his free short in the 12th minute, while the Blacks hit four wides in succession; chances that should have been put over Tommy Dalton’s crossbar.
It was the 22nd minute before Walterstown registered their first score and it came from Brian O’Connell. Sam McCabe was impeded and O’Connell popped over the resultant free from close range.
Facing in to an eye watering sun in the first half, Walterstown went 0-3 to 0-1 up after 26 minutes thanks to a brace of points from Barry O’Connell. Centre forward Ruairi O’Dowd added to the Blacks’ tally with a point on 30 minutes, but before half time Blackhall pulled one back through Stephen Morris to leave the scoreboard reading 0-4 to 0-2 at the break.
It was during the opening minutes of the second half that Walterstown did all the damage that ultimately set them on their way to victory. Seconds after the re-start Robbie Cunningham played a ball in to Ruairi O’Dowd and he rarely misses and didn’t on this occasion either. He finished stylishly passed Tommy Dalton and gave the Blacks a 1-4 to 0-2 advantage.
And then came a second Walterstown goal. This time it was Sam McCabe who hit the onion sack after Barry O’Connor got the all important touch to allow McCabe in to finish and open up an eight point lead for the Blacks.
Brian O’Connell (free), O’Dowd and Alban Crosbie (free) all went on to tag on points and it wasn’t until after that that a shellshocked Blackhall opened their second half account when Dermot Carty split the posts.
Walterstown might have been well on top as far as the scoreboard were concerned but make no mistake about it, Blackhall had plenty of chances to get themselves back in contention. They hit the Walterstown crossbar after the water break, while John Davis was called in to action late in the day. He pulled off a super save to deny Mark Mullally but the concession of those two early goals made the hill an extremely steep one to climb for the Kilcloon outfit.
Walterstown, brimming with confidence, finished well, tagged on three points in stoppage time and ensured they advanced with 15 points to spare.
Trim await the Blacks in the semi final in two weeks time after Kevin Reilly’s charges had a comprehensive 4-18 to 0-8 win over Dunderry in Navan on Sunday afternoon.
SCORERS: Walterstown – Ruairi O’Dowd 1-4, Sam McCabe 1-2 (1 ’45’), Brian O’Connell 0-2 (2f), Barry O’Connell 0-2, Alban Crosbie 0-1 (1f), Aron McLoughlin 0-1, Alan Wall 0-2 (1 mark).
Blackhall Gaels – Alan Nestor 0-1 (1f), Tadhg Brosnan 0-1 (1 mark), Donnacha Healy 0-1, Stephen Morris 0-1, Dermot Carty 0-1.
WALTERSTOWN: John Davis; Peter Reynolds, Eoin O’Mahony, Conor Farrelly; Mark McCormack, Cathal Hennelly, Aron McLoughlin; Alan Wall, Alban Crosbie; Conor O’Sullivan, Ruairi O’Dowd, Robbie Cunningham; Sam McCabe, Brian O’Connell, Barry O’Connell. SUBS: Paul Donnellan replaced C O’Sullivan 40 mins, Adam Treanor replaced R Cunningham 58 mins Davy Reynolds replaced R O’Dowd 56 mins.
BLACKHALL GAELS: Tommy Dalton; Hugh Smith, Donnacha Healy, Dan Carty; Paddy Brady, John Kelly, Stephen Morris; Paul Kelly, Mark Mullally; Donnach Tobin, Alan Nestor, Dermot Carty; Tadhg Brosnan, Shane Whitty, James Kelly. SUBS: Conor Stenson replaced P Brady, Kealan Forde replaced P Kelly, Luke Jennings replaced J Kelly.
REFEREE: Patrick Coyle (Curraha).