Minor footballers claim first Delaney Cup

November 27, 2011
The future of football in Ratoath looks extremely bright following the historic success of their minors who brought the Delaney Cup to the club for the first time in the autumn of 2011. It was a triumph which made up for the disappointment of losing last year's final to Navan O'Mahonys and one which demonstrated the value of having sound under-age structures in place.

Back in 2007 Ratoath recorded a magnificent double at under-14 level when winning the league and championship and four years later the MFC title was achieved by a hugely talented bunch of players managed by Dermot Rooney - the man who was also at the helm in 2007.
This highly significant breakthrough for Ratoath gives the club tremendous hope for the future and the desire now is that enough of these players will come through to help them make a serious assault on the Junior Championship. If that can be won anything could be possible thereafter.

Ratoath capped a memorable MFC campaign by finishing the job with a hard-earned final victory over Moynalvey who had earlier won the Division 2 title. En route to the decider Ratoath had beaten Simonstown, Walterstown, Clann na nGael and Donaghmore/Ashbourne (semi-final).
There was plenty to admire about their style of football in the final and they also demonstrated plenty of courage to finish the game strongest, despite playing against a stiff wind in the second half.

The decider at Pairc Tailteann acted as a curtain-raiser to the SFC final replay between Summerhill and Dunshaughlin. It was a close, well-contested match, but that strong finish by Ratoath which yielded three of the last four points was decisive in securing a 0-11 to 0-9 victory.

The honour of captaining the victorious team went to Bryan McMahon, who was Ratoath's top scorer with four points (three frees), and the 'man of the match' award went to another of their hugely talented players, Bobby O'Brien, who wore number 13 but operated very effectively in the middle third of the field. He contributed two valuable points in the third quarter at a time when Moynalvey looked menacing.

When Ratoath led by only 0-4 to 0-3 at the interval after playing with the aid of the wind they looked to be in trouble and the signs didn't look good when Moynalvey hit the front for the first time within five minutes of the restart. By the 40th minute Ratoath were ahead by the minimum again after O'Brien and substitute Joey Wallace had split the uprights and it remained close to the finish.
The sides were level at 0-8 each and, with the wind as a decided advantage, it looked as if outsiders Moynalvey might pull off a huge win to go with the IFC title won at the end of September. But that was when Ratoath showed their battling qualities as points from two McMahon frees and Adam Griffith's score from play pushed them over the finish line.

Ratoath had star performers all over the field and apart from the contributions of McMahon and O'Brien to the score sheet there were also valuable scores from Conor Rooney (two), Griffith, Eamonn Wallace and Joey Wallace.

The joyous scenes which greeted the final whistle demonstrated just how much this historic success meant to Ratoath.
The team in the final was: C O'Riordan; F Dolan, C McGill, P Flood; B O'Connor, B Power, A Flinter; M Daly, D Kelly; J McGowan, C Rooney (0-2), A Griffith (0-1); B O'Brien (0-2), E Wallace (0-1), B McMahon (0-4). Subs - J Wallace (0-1) for McGowan, C McCullagh for Flinter.

By mid-November Ratoath were one game away from a magnificent double as their minor hurlers were through to the championship final and it meant several of their players were in line to win medals in both under-18 codes. But the talented combination of Longwood and Rathmolyon spoiled the party when they won the final at Pairc Tailteann by 2-10 to 1-9.

Reaching the final represented a great achievement for Ratoath and has to be a boost to the promotion of hurling in the club, but failing to finish the job on the big day represented a real disappointment. It was a case of so near and yet so far.
The key moment of the final, which took place before Ballivor's Leinster Club JFC semi-final against Geraldine O Hanrahans of Wexford, came on 46 minutes at a time when Ratoath were looking good with a 1-9 to 1-7 advantage. Longwood/Rathmolyon were awarded a penalty which Damien Healy goaled from and Ratoath failed to recover.

The amalgamated team had started the final extremely well and boosted by a goal from Jack Payne after five minutes they opened up a 1-3 to 0-1 advantage by the end of the opening quarter. Points from frees by McMahon (two) and Daragh Kelly kept Ratoath very much in the hunt and they recovered sufficiently to be in front late in the half.

A goal from Ross Gillen after 22 minutes was a huge boost to their revival, but it was Longwood/Rathmolyon who finished the first half strongest as they got back to level terms (1-5 each) at the change of ends. It was all to play for and a positive start to the second period would certainly have been on the minds of both sets of players as they prepared for the action to resume.
Ratoath had plenty of possession on the restart, but the fact that they failed to make best use of it and missed chances was to prove costly. Their only scores of the second half came courtesy of three points from play by McMahon and another by substitute Sean O'Hanrahan and that was never likely to be enough.

The concession of the penalty was very damaging and once Healy had dispatched it to the net to edge Longwood/Rathmolyon ahead they always looked more likely to go on and win. Ratoath failed to add to their tally beyond that key score and the amalgamation tagged on three more points to be four to the good at the end.

It was a very disappointing end to the championship for Ratoath, but they deserve enormous credit for getting to the final.
The team in the final was: G McGowan; D Doyle, C O'Riordan, P Dowd; A Coakley, D Kelly (0-1), C Ward; C O'Hanrahan (0-1), B O'Brien; J McGowan, C McGill, C McLarnon; B McMahon (0-6), R Gillen (1-0), D Toner. Subs - S O'Hanrahan (0-1) for McLarnon, G Brennan for Coakley.

Junior footballers reach quarter-finals

The Ratoath junior footballers came through the group stages of the JFC, but were just edged out by one of the title favourites Dunsany at the quarter-final hurdle, while the club's second string combination successfully negotiated the marathon qualification phase of the Junior B Championship.

Their quest for the title gained pace with knockout victories of neighbours Dunshaughlin and Donaghmore/Ashbourne, but their dream was shattered when Clonard defeated them decisively in the final.
PJ Cudden was coach to the junior A team, with Ciaran O'Malley and Clive Lumley acting as selectors, and they were drawn in group B of the championship along with Trim, Slane, Wolfe Tones, Kilbride and Ballivor. It had the appearance of a section which offered sufficient opportunities to gain enough points to make further progress, with Ballivor the obvious stand-out side.

Ratoath's easiest group win came in their opener against Wolfe Tones' second string at Pairc Tailteann where Eoghan McMahon contributed 2-8 and Robert Madden 2-5 to a 4-23 to 0-3 success. It could only get tougher after that runaway victory over understrength opposition, but Ratoath went on to make it three wins from as many championship outings.

They defeated Trim's second 15 by 2-12 to 2-5 at Dunsany and then proved far too strong for Slane at Ashbourne, winning by 3-12 to 0-8. McMahon tallied 1-6 and Paul Kirwan and Gavin Eiffe also found the net in a victory which steered Ratoath firmly in the direction of a quarter-final place.

The big game in the group was always likely to be the clash of Ratoath and Ballivor in the fourth round at Summerhill and so it proved as champions to be Ballivor won by 3-8 to 1-10 in a very well-contested match. It was a blow to Ratoath, but not a huge one as they needed only to avoid defeat in the last group assignment against Kilbride to progress.

Ratoath played their best football in the first half against Ballivor, but the concession of a goal to Padraig Geoghegan meant they were only level (0-6 to 1-3) at the break. Robert Madden had contributed three points and Gareth Rooney, Patrick Haslam and Emmet Boyle also troubled the scoreboard operator in that period.

Rooney goaled early in the second half to give Ratoath a timely boost and when they went on to lead by 1-9 to 1-4 at the three-quarter stage they appeared to be in a very strong position. But they didn't maintain their form and goals from Paul Kelly and substitute Edward Kirby helped Ballivor to edge to the front. They got the last three points and had finished in a fashion which suggested they were capable of clinching the title.

Ratoath had a lengthy gap to their last group assignment against Kilbride at Ashbourne where a very comfortable 2-16 to 1-9 win secured qualification for the knockout stages. Ballivor finished on top of the section with a maximum tally of 10 points, followed by Ratoath on eight.

Walterstown provided the setting for the quarter-final against Dunsany and a disappointing day for Ratoath was compounded when Bobby O'Brien was sent off on receipt of a second yellow card in the last minute. Ratoath had 10 damaging wides and it was Dunsany who advanced on a 0-11 to 1-6 score line.
Six of those wides came in the first half, at the end of which Dunsany led by 0-6 to 0-5. Madden (two), Emmet Boyle, Eoghan McMahon and Patrick Haslam had pointed for Ratoath who were ahead by 1-6 to 0-8 at the three-quarter stage after O'Brien had goaled and Boyle pointed.

But they failed to score again as chances were missed, including a goal attempt by Cian O'Brien which was blocked. Dunsany, who were without the injured Stephen Clynch, shaded the second period to advance, but their day of disappointment lay in waiting when Navan O'Mahonys eliminated them at the penultimate hurdle.

Ratoath's Junior B team commenced the championship with a 0-10 to 2-3 victory over Dunderry and made it four straight wins when getting the better of St Vincent's (1-11 to 0-4), Boardsmill (0-8 to 1-4) and St Colmcille's (2-14 to 0-4). They lost to St Patrick's (1-6 to 0-11), defeated Walterstown (1-11 to 0-5) and Moynalty (2-8 to 1-10), but ended the divisional schedule when going under to Donaghmore/Ashbourne (0-10 to 1-13).

Dunshaughlin were defeated by 2-6 to 1-7 in a quarter-final at Navan O'Mahonys and the revenge mission against Donaghmore/Ashbourne in the semi-final brought a 1-10 to 2-6 success and a final ticket.
Unfortunately for Ratoath, that was as good as it got and Clonard were deserving winners of the final where they were never headed en route to a 1-13 to 0-7 victory at Pairc Tailteann.

Ratoath made a bad start when Bernard Reilly goaled for Clonard in the third minute and they trailed by 0-0 to 1-2 after 12 minutes. Ratoath gradually found their feet, but trailed by 0-4 to 1-5 at the break after Graham Gordon (two frees), the impressive Eamonn Wallace and Mick Brazil had notched their points.

Clonard were five points clear nearing the three-quarter stage, but a couple of superb points from Wallace gave Ratoath hope. However, they missed chances and Clonard pushed on with a late flurry of points to win comfortably.

The Ratoath team in the final was: R Donnelly; R Crehan, T O'Neill, G Reilly; B Power, G Quigley, S Killian; M Brazil (0-1), M Daly; A Flinter, S Ryan, E Wallace (0-3); C Rooney, D O'Brien (0-1), G Gordon (0-2). Subs - S Creagh for Killian, C Kelly for Gordon, F Gaughan for Rooney, D Whyte for Reilly.
Ratoath's teams in the football leagues - A FL Division 3 and B FL Division 1 - didn't get into contention for final places

Hurling teams fail to reach knockout stages
Ratoath fielded teams in the IHC and Division 2 HC, but neither managed to advance to the knockout stages.
The intermediates left it too late to find their form in group B, with defeats in the first three matches to Kilskyre (2-8 to 5-8), Donaghmore/Ashbourne (2-13 to 3-12) and Kildalkey (1-7 to 5-9) inflicting serious damage to their qualification prospects.
They bounced back with a 1-15 to 0-13 victory over Dunboyne and followed it with a 3-19 to 1-10 success against Kiltale, but four group points left them out of contention.
Ratoath's opening game in group A of the Division 2 HC saw them lose narrowly to Donaghmore/Ashbourne (0-8 to 1-6) and that was followed by a loss against eventual champions Gaeil Colmcille (0-12 to 2-16). Those were their only games in the competition because they granted a walk over to Wolfe Tones and received one from Longwood.

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