Curraha and near neighbours Donaghmore/Ashbourne made the short trip to Ratoath for their 2nd game in Group A of the Meath Senior Football Championship. With both sides suffering disappointing losses in their opening games, there was a lot on the line for this keenly anticipated local derby.
Donaghmore/Ashbourne registered the first score of the game, with comer forward Darragh O'Sullivan firing over inside 90 seconds. The opening exchanges were quite scrappy, with both sides missing chances. Curraha made their breakthrough in the 8th minute, with Mark Jackson starting a move deep in their defence. Jack O'Connor and Ruairí O'Sullivan combined down the right touchline and worked the ball to Conor Moriarty who fired to the net. Donaghmore/Ashbourne responded via a point from play by Dylan Brady, but Curraha had the ball in the net again 2 minutes later. Curraha turned the ball over in defence and broke downfield , with Ruairí O'Sullivan being tripped as he bore down on the goal. Diarmuid Moriarty stepped up and confidently placed the ball in the bottom corner. Donaghmore/Ashbourne keeper Andrew Colgan scored soon after from a long range free, and another in the 23rd minute, quickly followed by a Darragh O'Sullivan pointed effort to leave 1 between the teams. James McEntee extended the Curraha lead to 2 points with a close range free. Luke McCarthy, who was excellent off the tee all day, found Jack O'Connor with a perfect kick, allowing him to turn and head straight for goal. The Donaghmore/Ashbourne defender opted to pull him down to prevent the goal-scoring opportunity, with McEntee tapping over the resulting free. As with the penalty decision, Donaghmore/Ashbourne were somewhat fortunate to escape without a black card. A the game approached half-time, Donaghmore/Ashbourne suddenly found themselves in the lead. An effort for a point was miscued, with full forward Andrew Tormey reacting best as he claimed the high ball on the edge of the square and fired home. Soon after, a black card was issued to Diarmuid Moriarty who having been knocked to the ground in a tackle was deemed to have tripped his man, and was off the pitch for 10 minutes. Curraha levelled the game in 1st half injury time with a lovely left-footed curling effort from distance from James McEntee, following great work by Niall Murphy.
The scoreline read Curraha 2-2 Donaghmore/Ashbourne 1-5 at the break, Curraha had played very well, with the late Donaghmore/Ashbourne goal a tough blow to take. The direct running of Jack O'Connor, Ruairí O'Sullivan, making his championship debut, and Niall Murphy was causing all sorts of problems for the opposition defence. The game was finely balanced heading into the 2nd half, with all still to play for.
In an attempt to take an advantage of the extra man, Donaghmore/Ashbourne upped the intensity as the game resumed. However, they only managed 2 points during the black card period as some excellent Curraha defending limited them to hopeful long range efforts. Immediately after returning to the field, Moriarty brilliantly fielded a Luke McCarthy kickout and launched an attack that saw Padraig O'Hanrahan fouled just inside the 45. Moriarty stepped up and curled a brilliant effort straight over the bar. Brian Menton responded for Donaghmore/Ashbourne, but in the 12th minute, Curraha had the umpire reaching for the green flag yet again. Having won a free in their own right corner back position, Curraha put together the move of the match. Niall Murphy, Ruairí O'Sullivan and Padraig O'Hanrahan were heavily involved, resulting in Murphy dispatching the ball to the net for Curraha's 3rd goal of the game, and edge them back into the lead. Donaghmore/Ashbourne responded with 2 points as the lead changed hands again. But Curraha kept coming at them and as the half wore on, the fitness levels of the Curaha players came to the fore. The defence was putting in a massive shift, and every time they turned the opposition over, they created overloads all over the pitch as they broke forward. Goal number 4 arrived in the 20th minute following such a break. The ball reached Conor Moriarty near the right endline, who produced a perfect pass to find Jack O'Connor who sidestepped the keeper and hammered the ball to the back of the net to put them 2 points in the lead again, and draw a huge roar from the sidelines. Donaghmore/Ashbourne tried to rally, but the Curraha defence was keeping them at bay at this point. Darragh O'Sullivan scored a point in the 25th minute to reduce the gap to 2, but Curraha responded immediately. Another outstanding kick from Luke McCarthy found James McEntee who spun and headed for goal. With options available, he took the sensible decision and fired over from the 21. Donaghmore/Ashbourne reduced the gap to 1 again with 3 minutes to play, but that was their last effort on goal as Curraha saw the game out, and spurned a couple of chances of their own. The returning Sean Keogh came on for the last few minutes to help see out the game, replacing Ronan Flynn who had put in a great shift. Finally, David Coldrick sounded the final whistle and a great win for Curraha was secured.
The Curraha lads put in a great shift from first whistle to last, with their workrate throughout helping them to a deserved win. They defended resolutely, and broke at speed and in numbers with every turnover. The game-plan was perfectly executed, and credit to the players and management for a great display. After not quite getting into their stride in the opening game against Na Fianna, this was much closer to the potential this team has to offer, and hopefully with more to come. The final group game sees Curraha play Dunshaughlin in Ardcath on Friday August 25th. There is still all to play for in this group with all 4 teams still having the chance to progress.
Full Time: Curraha 4-4 Donaghmore/Ashbourne 1-12
HON THE HA!
Curraha: Luke McCarthy, Oisin Fay, Matthew Webb, Seamus Hogan, Niall Murphy (1-0), Mark Jackson, Padraig O'Hanrahan, Ronan Flynn, Niall McLarnon, Ruairí O'Sullivan, James McEntee (0-3), Jack O'Connor (1-0), Phelim Dowling, Diarmuid Moriarty (1-1), Conor Moriarty (1-0).
Subs: Sean Keogh for Ronan Flynn