Unfancied Blackhall Gaels almost caused the shock of the opening round of the SFC at Dunshauglin on Friday when losing narrowly to O'Mahonys.
O'Mahonys ........ 1-13
The Batterstown-Kilcloon ouffit were 5/1 outsiders on the night but recovered well from a bad start to stay in contention for at least the share of the points right to the end.
The 2015 SFC champions owed much to Niall McKeigue at full-back who marshaled well a tenacious defence. At the other end of the field, Ruairi O Coileain's strength on the ball created opportunities for team mates.
Cormac McGuinness' deft finish left it 1-1 to 0-1 to the Brews Hill outfit six minutes in. It also owed much to the efforts of Stephen Bray and Paul Whelehan. The latter's work rate also impacted on the outcome.
After a free-flowing opening half, matters gave way to an engrossing battle for points. The first 30 minutes yielded 2-17. The second just six points. The closeness of the exchanges kept the crowd engaged on an ideal evening for football.
Blackhall Gaels trailed by 1-8 to 1-9 at half-time but needed 21 second-half minutes to add to their tally. Both of their second-half scores came from Tadhg Brosnan frees.
The 'Gaels were left to rue seven second-half wides when playing towards the road goal. On the night O'Mahonys' missed chances didn't affect the outcome but Ruairi O Coileain's 46th minute goal attempt from close range was narrowly wide when the green flag beckoned.
In the fourth minute of added time, Jake Regan blazed high and wide when put through by O Coileain.
Regan's opening point was quickly countered by Sean Whelan. O'Mahonys added 1-2 in three minutes to move five points clear with 10 minutes gone.
With Donnacha Tobin leading from midfield, Blackhall rallied and John Kelly's 13th minute goal leveled matters at 1-3-each. Paddy O'Brien and Robert McGuinness' presence boosted the 'Gaels in the central zone.
With O'Mahonys leading 1-5 to 1-4, Stephen Bray had a 'goal' disallowed for a 'square' infringement 16 minutes in. His initial shot parried by Thomas Dalton and the former county finished to the net to no avail.
O'Mahonys lost Gary O'Brien to hamstring injury in the 18th minute. Scores were tied four times in a lively second quarter and by half-time O'Mahonys held that slender advantage.
The scoring rate dropped considerably on the resumption with Stephen Bray's 40th minute point being the first score of the second-half.
Regan registered O'Mahonys' remaining three scores (two frees) to nudge the town side towards the winning post.
Navan O'Mahonys - Marcas Brennan; James O'Malley, Niall McKeigue, Shane Crosby; James O'Reilly, Daragh Smyth, Gary O'Brien; Cormac McGuinness (1-0), Stephen Monaghan; Paul Whelehan (0-1), Stephen Bray (0-1), Daragh Maguire; Shane Gillespie (0-2), Ruairi O Coileain (0-4, 3fs), Jake Regan (0-5, 2fs). Subs - Cormac Reilly for G O'Brien (18). Henry Finnegan for Crosby (40), Ian Matthews for Reilly (bc 56).
Blackhall Gaels - Thomas Dalton; James Kelly, Colm McElligott, Tom Murphy; Thomas Delany, Alan Nestor (0-2fs), Patrick Brady; Patrick O'Brien, Donnacha Tobin (0-2); Sean Whelan (0-1), Robert McGuinness (0-1),Denis Beirne; Paul Kelly (0-1), Tadhg Brosnan (0-3, 2fs), John Kelly (1-0). Subs - Dan Carty for J Kelly (bs 22), J Kelly for Dan Carty (bc 30), Hugh Smith for J Kelly (40)
Referee - Cormac Reilly (St Patrick's)