After Friday evenings senior clash between Gaeil Colmcille and Ratoath, focus turned to the Premier Championship on Saturday in the Division 1 Relegation Play-Off played in Páirc Colmcille.
Conditions were far from ideal and it was evident throughout the first half with both sides struggling to cope with the slippery size 5 O’Neills. The visitors Ratoath opened the scoring on 3 minutes thanks to a placed ball and Gaeil Colmcille’s Danny McGovern levelled things up soon after with a lovely point from play in the 6th minute.
Ratoath outscored Kells three points to no score in a 6 minute spell to see them open a 0-04 to 0-01 lead with a quarter of the game gone. Gaeil Colmcille were relying on frees from placed balls and McGovern and Gary Arkins obliged with one point each to leave the minimum between the sides.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Kells struck for the opening goal of the game thanks to Alex Williams who got on the end of a lovely move and saw his shot rattle the back of the Ratoath net to give The Gaeils the lead for the first time. The lead didn’t last for long as Ratoath response was excellent and despite a great save from keeper Sean Thornton, the ball fell kindly to the Ratoath forward who tapped into an empty net.
Ratoath followed that goal with the halves final score, a point on 28 minutes to see them lead 1-05 to 1-03 at half-time.
Gaeil Colmcille introduced Sean Cleary off the bench for the start of the second half and Cleary made an instant impact with a driving run through the Ratoath defence and his lovely curled effort from 30 yards left Kells just one point behind with 32 minutes played.
There wouldn’t be another score in the game for 16 minutes with the conditions starting to play their part and it was the equalising score for Gaeil Colmcille as Centre Back Fionn Smith found himself in an advanced position to tap over the levelling point.
Both sides shared the next two scores with Ratoath regaining the lead but for McGovern to point once again to leave it 1-06 each with 5 minutes plus injury time remaining. Ratoath looked to have won it at the death when a high ball which had the intentions of going over the bar hit the cross bar and fell kindly to the Ratoath forward to tap into the net to give Ratoath a three point lead.
Credit to Gaeil Colmcille they never lost hope and as they went in search for a goal, they had to settle for a pointed free by McGovern to leave two in it as the clock hit red. Gaeil Colmcille persisted to attack in search of now what would be a winning goal, got their rewards in the 61st minute after a cross field ball by Cian Doogan wasn’t dealt with and despite numerous attempts at a goal to no avail, the ball fell kindly to Cleary who instead of shooting opted to lay off to Cormac O’Reilly who hammered home to give Kells the goal they needed and secure Division 1 status for 2023.
A poignant moment for O’Reilly who surely thought the highlight of his week was getting over 600 points in his recent Leaving Cert results on Friday, but no it was the winning goal for Gaeil Colmcille just over 24 hours later.
Gaeil Colmcille: Sean Thornton, Conor Arkins, Cormac Ferguson, Finn Mullan, Cormac O’Reilly (1-00), Fionn Smith (0-01), Stephen Reddy, Cian Doogan, Phil Ward, Alex Williams (1-00), Shane Bennett, Cormac Mattimoe, Gary Arkins (0-01), Danny McGovern (0-04), Zak Griffin
Subs: Sean Cleary (0-01), Gary McGovern, Niall Williams, Liam Byrne.