Kiltegan sink Rathnew
GAELIC GAMES DOOLEY POYNTON SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Kiltegan 1-10, Rathnew 0-6: Kiltegan drew first blood on the day that the two semi-finals of the Dooley Poynton Senior football championship were played as a double-header in Aughrim.
The Carlow border side were the pace-setters from the start, were leading by 0-4 before Tommy Gill had Rathnew’s first point in the 15th minute and stayed fairly much in control up to the end.
It was 0-6 to 0-1 at half-time and except for one ten-minute spell late in the game Rathnew never looked like closing the gap.
After sluggish start by both sides in conditions that were far from ideal for football Derek Daly kicked the first point of the game in the sixth minute and midfielder John O’Toole laid down a marker when he powered through for another point two minutes later.
Seánie Furlong had a point from a free and another from play before Tommy Gill snapped up a breaking ball to get Rathnew’s first point in the 15th minute.
Seánie Furlong ended a long scoreless spell when he pointed a free and then sent over another from a ‘45 to leave the half-time score Kiltegan 0-6, Rathnew 0-1.
The scoring in the second-half was equally slow. John Keogh pointed a free for a foul on Daly; from another free he played a one-two with Daly before pointing. It was a match where every point counted and Kiltegan were content to take the easy ones.
Another one-two between Seánie Furlong and John Keogh saw Furlong point from long range. Ken Doyle got what was only Rathnew’s second point in the 40th minute but then in a good spell the former eight in a row champions landed four points in a row to leave just a goal separating the sides.
Edward Doyle started the run with a good point in the 18th minute; Tommy Gill landed one from a free, Anthony Mernagh, the sole survivor from the team that started the great run back in 1996, and still the pick of the half-forward line, got the next point while Paul Merrigan, who had just been sprung from the subs bench got his name on the scoresheet.
When Kiltegan needed a point badly it was roving midfielder Jacko Dalton who stepped in to do the needful, taking a pass from his midfield partner to send over.
When super sub Mikie Foley scored the only goal of the match in the 56th minute it was all over and this time there was no comeback by Rathnew. Dalton again started the move that led to that goal; he played a long ball in to Seánie Furlong who swung it across to the sub and while Rathnew ‘keeper Peter Duignam got a block on the first shot Foley was not to be denied and made no mistake from the rebound.
Tactics played a big part in this victory. Manager Gavin Wynne and his backroom team went out with a match plan and were able to stick with it to the end – and that does not always happen. It also helped their cause that key Rathnew players like Damien Power, James Stafford, Leighton Glynn and Tommy Gill were often isolated and did not get the chance to impose themselves on the game in the way they like to do.
Jacko Dalton is usually the powerhouse around midfield and had another powerful game; Seánie Furlong and Derek Daly combined very effectively in the full-forward line while the whold Kiltegan defence did well.
However, this time it was Dalton’s midfioeld partner John O’Toole who turned a man of the match display but not far ahead of Rory Finn who, despite failing to get on the scoresheet had a great secondhalf. His shooting apart, Daly also had a verry effective game in the corner.
I know we have said it before but have we saw the last of a great Rathnew team? They have won nine titles in the last 12 years, added one Leinster Championship and have provided the players to backbone the county team.
The top marksman for club and county for many years Tommy Gill tried as hard a ever on Sunday but he is now only a pale shadow of the player he once was.
Anthony and Barry Mernagh have also put up big mileage over the years while most of the others have departed the scene. Younger men like Power, Stafford and Glynn are now carrying the team.
Harry Murphy’s team is now in need of a massive injection of young blood. Of course they have made us eat words like that before – and could do so again.
Kiltegan still have work to do but Gavin Wynne has them in a final in his first year in charge and he was the happiest man in Aughrim on Sunday evening.
Rathnew's Nicky Mernagh tries to burst past the challenge of Kiltegan's Adrian Foley.
Kiltegan's Michael Foley chips the ball past Rathnew ‘keeper Peter Dignam.