Curraha and Dunshaughlin met in the final game in the group stage of the Meath Senior Championship on Friday in Ardcath. There was all to play for going in to the game, with the fate of all four teams in the group still in the balance. Each team was still capable of reaching the quarter finals, but also had the threat of a potential relegation playoff looming over them.
Dunshughlin nearly landed a heavy blow to Curraha straight away. They won the throw in, and a couple of slick passes left them through on goal in the 1st minute. Curraha goalkeeper Luke McCarthy came to the rescue as he made an outstanding save to prevent the early goal. Dunshaughlin went on to register the first 2 scores of the games, with frees from Matthew Costello and Ruairí Kinsella. Diarmuid Moriarty responded with a free to get Curraha off the mark in the 9th minute following a foul on Jack O'Connor. Kinsella registered another free on 11 minutes, and then Curraha registered the game's only goal 90 seconds later. A long range free from Diarmuid Moriarty dropped into the square, and with the Dunshaughlin keeper struggling to deal with it, Conor Moriarty done brilliantly to finish to the net. Curraha drew great confidence from the goal and were suddenly dominating all over the field. Ronan Flynn scored a brilliant point with the outside of the left following an excellent run by Podge O'Hanarahan. This was quickly followed by a point from Jack O'Connor as he clipped over after a driving run through the middle. There was a great turnover from Niall McLarnon & Ruairí O'Sullivan in the build up, and this was a big feature of the 1st half as Dunshaughlin struggled to deal with the Curraha pressure. Alistair Doyle steadied the ship for Dunshaughlin as he got their first score in 12 minutes, and their first score from play, but this was immediately cancelled out by O'Connor as he again drove at the heart of their defence and clipped over on his right. The Dunshauglhin keeper scored from a well struck 45 on 24 minutes. The last score of the half came from Diarmuid Moriarty after serious work from himself and his brother to turn the ball over and feed O'Connor to run at the defence again. He laid the ball back to Moriarty and he fired over to give Curraha a 3 point lead heading into the break.
Matthew Costello reduced the deficit with an early free in the 2nd half, with Diarmuid Moriarty responding shortly after with a free following a run from McLarnnon. Curraha were still well on top in the opening exchanges, but missed numerous opportunities to extend their lead. Jack O'Connor did push the lead out to 4 points in the 12th minutes. Matthew Webb turned the ball over yet again in defence and drove out to feed Diarmuid Moriarty. His long high ball was gathered by a sliding O'Connor who pointed from the resulting mark. Dunshaughlin registered only their 2nd score from play in the 20th minute, but again Diarmuid Moriarty responded, with James McEntee winning the free following a Niall Murphy turnover. At this stage, the group was finely balanced but Curraha were in the driving seat. Their lead here, couple with the score between Donaghmore/Ashbourne and Na Fianna, meant that Curraha were topping the table entering the closing stages. However, the last few minutes saw Dushauglhin finally find their range. A Costello free on 25 minutes was quickly followed by a point from Kinsella to reduce the gap to 3, and suddenly they had all the momentum. Curraha kept them at bay for the rest of normal time, but the gap was reduced to 1 in the 2nd minute of injury time. The dreaded equalising point came in the 33rd minute and still the final whistle did not come. Late drama in the group's other game saw Donaghmore/Ashbourne take the lead with a late goal, meaning that a draw here would see Curraha and Dunshaughlin through. However, with the clock now reading 5 minutes injury played, Dunshaughlin knocked over a score to take a late late lead. Curraha had time to engineer a half chance at the end, but a difficult long range effort drifted wide and the final whistle finally sounded.
The results of the 2 games means Dunshaughlin and Donaghmore/Ashbourne go though, with Curraha joining Na Fianna in the relegation playoffs. This is one that got away for Curraha who dominated this game until the last 5 minutes. A wide count of 8 coupled with the concession of 6 points from frees kept Dunshaughlin in the game when there was the chance to pull away when Curraha were dominating proceedings. There are a lot of positives to take from the game, with some outstanding displays across the park. Credit to Dunshaughlin for staying in the gme and lifting ther performance in the closing stages.
Curraha will have to bounce back as they face into a relegation playoff in 2 weeks time, with Ballinbrackey, Moynalvey and Dunboyne their potential opponents. The draw takes place on Monday evening.
Full Time: Curraha 1-8 Dunshaughlin 0-12
Curraha: Luke McCarthy, Oisin Fay, Matthew Webb, Seamus Hogan, Niall Murphy, David Toner, Padraig O'Hanrahan, Ronan Flynn (0-1), Niall McLarnon, Ruairí O'Sullivan, James McEntee, Jack O'Connor (0-3), Phelim Dowling, Diarmuid Moriarty (0-4), Conor Moriarty (1-0).
Subs: Ciaran O'Hanrahan for Ruairí O'Sullivan. Mark Jackson for Ronan Flynn