Ratoath surprised Longwood at Trim on Tuesday evening to claim their first SHC points since promotion last autumn in what proved to be the match of the round
Longwood ....... 0-20
Ratoath .......... 0-23
Ratoath entered the fray on the back of losses to Kilmessan and Dunboyne. The latter a heavy defeat. Longwood had one win (Clann na nGael) and one loss (Trim) behind them but their greater experience was expected to see them prevail here.
Longwood hopes were undermined by the red-carding of talisman Mickey Burke in the 24th minute with Ratoath leading by 0-8 to 0-6. The 'Wood never regained the lead thereafter but were never far off the pace.
Ratoath moved four points clear twice in the second-half. Each time Longwood halved that deficit with minutes. Anthony Healy's accurracy from frees sustained his side's gallant challenge.
Given the closeness of the exchanges and the exciting finale and the eventual outcome it proved a memorable evening, one to match the sunset that followed.
Colm Riordan with Mickey Burke
Gavin McGowan was Ratoath's most prolific scorer with nine points from play while Darragh Kelly chipped in with six frees and one from play for good measure.
For a game that produced 43 scores there were no significant goal chances and neither goalie made a save.
Anthony Healy was wide from long range in stoppage time. Had it gone over Longwood's deficit would have been down to the minimum. It was left to McGowan to close the scoring and confirm a memorable evening for the team in royal blue jerseys.
In the final minutes Ratoath almost left victory slip from their grasp with a couple of misses that meant they had to dig in for a bit longer to seal a memorable win.
Backed by the breeze emanating from the town end, Longwood were first to show through Anthony Healy (free). The same player went close to doubling the lead but his effort from distance was deemed wide after consultation among the officials.
Ryan Moore with Brian Murphy
Mickey Burke added his side's second score with an effort from his own 65. Paudge O'Hanrahan (free) pulled a point back for Ratoath before Darragh Kelly levelled matters in the ninth minute
The scores were tied three times in the first-half. Ratoath improved as the game wore on. Entering the second quarter the promoted side had moved two points clear thanks to pointed frees from O'Kelly and O'Hanrahan.
Longwood got to within a point of Ratoath three times in the second quarter before gaining parity (0-9-all) in the 30th minute It was the third time the sides were tied in the opening half.
Two McGowan points moved Ratoath 0-11 to 0-9 clear at the break. Karl Ennis pulled a point back for Longwood within 15 seconds of the restart. Crucially though they posted 11 second-half scores, they never regained parity.
Gavin McGowan with Joey Stenson
Next up for Ratoath is a clash with Clann na nGael while Longwood face Dunboyne. Longwood face Kilmessan in their final group game when Ratoath take on Trim.
Ratoath - Gerard Crowley; Colm Riordan, Brian Murphy, Paddy Dowd; Cormac Butler, Darragh Kelly (0-7 6fs), Conor Ward; Bobby O'Brien (0-1), Paudge O'Hanrahan (0-3 fs); Ben McGowan, Niall Murphy (0-2), Sean O'Hanrahan; Sean Keogh (0-1), Gavin McGowan (0-9), Conleth McLarnon. Subs - Eamon Laffey for Keogh (59).
Longwood - Michael Healy; Chris Lynch, Enda Dixon, Joe Stenson; Coran Byrne, Damien Healy (0-2), Chris Cusack; Mickey Burke (0-1), Bob Maguire; Ryan Moore (0-1), Karl Ennis (0-1), Colm Hackett; Aaron Ennis (0-1), Anthony Healy (0-13 fs), Evan Coyle. Subs - Niall Mulvany for Hackett (19), Jamie Connolly (0-1) for Cusack (ht), Jim Dorran for Coyle (37), Thomas Coloe for Byrne (41), Martin Bermingham for Maguire (53).
Referee - Bernard Heaney (Clann na nGael)