By Conor Martin
GAA is a funny old game and the Ratoath players looked bewildered at the final whistle of the Meath Senior Football Championship final on Sunday. They weren’t wondering or questioning how they lost it but simply looked speechless on how they won the championship title.
If there was a GAA edition of Roy of the Rovers then surely it would have a similar storyline to this match. Ratoath were three points and a man down as late as the 66th minute but in the 68th minute following a mad scramble substitute Joey Wallace found the ball heading in his direction and he managed to get his paw on it as he fisted the ball home to seal the match and the title for the reigning champions.
It was a hard match to call throughout the ding dong battle. It ended in heartbreak for Gaeil Colmcille, who were looking to win their first Meath senior title since 1991, levelled the game in the 60th minute through a free from Seamus Mattimoe this was after Ratoath substitute Emmett Boyle had been shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Gaeil Colmcille’s Conal Courtney.
Momentum swung further Colmcille’s way in the 61st minute, Mattimoe was fouled in the square and referee David Coldrick awarded a penalty. Gaeil Colmcille’s Brian Hanlon coolly buried the ball in the bottom right corner as Barry O’Callaghan dived the other way.
Yet the contest wasn’t over Aaron Lynch scored with a free for Ratoath in the 66th minute to bring them to within two points. Three minutes later, Kevin Nally sent in a Hail Mary ball into the square where Wallace stole the headlines and broke Gael Colmcille hearts and Ratoath were left celebrating following Wallace’s goal as they won 1-14 to 1-13.
Scorers: Ratoath – Joey Wallace 1-3; Bryan McMahon 0-6 (4fs); Daithi McGowan 0-4 (3fs, 1 45); Cian O’Brien 0-1..
Gaeil Colmcille – Brian Hanlon 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-4fs); Seamus Mattimoe 0-4 (3fs); Conall Courtney, James Reilly,Liam Ferguson, Evan Sheridan 0-1 each.
Ratoath – Shane Duffy; Ciaran O Fearraigh, Conor McGill, Ben Wyer; Jack Gillespie, Gavin McGowan, Andrew Gerrard; Ben McGowan, Joey Wallace; Daithi McGowan, Cian Rogers, Conor Rooney; Cian O’Brien, Bryan McMahon (C), Jack Flynn. Subs – Eamon Wallace for (38), Emmet Boyle for Gillespie (44), Connell Ahearne for Rooney (50), Keith McCabe for O’Brien (54), Darragh Kelly for B McGowan (60).
16 – Sean Johnson, Sean Brazil, John Walsh, Emmett Boyle, Jack McGowan, Daragh McGill, Connell Ahearne, Tom Fadden, Keith McCabe, 25 Padraic Byrne, Brian O’Connor, Joey Wallace, Gavin Horan,29 Eamonn Wallace, Garreth Rooney, Cormac Butler, Luke Newe, Brian Daly, Tiernan Ahearne, Peter Barry.
Gaeil Colmcille – Justin Carry Lynch; Jordan Muldoon, Paul Tormey, James Reilly; Adam Muldoon, Seanie Curran, Fionn Reilly; Liam Ferguson (C), Oisin Reilly; Evan Sheridan, Phillip Ward, Conall Courtney; Seamus Mattimoe, Martin Barrett, Brian O’Hanlon. Subs – Barry Smith for K Reilly (38), Barry Tormay for Curran (47), Keith Reilly for Courtney (57), Ryan Farnham for Hanlon (63), Cian Doogan for Barrett (64).