Late Mernagh goal wins it for Rathnew
FOCUS MATCH WICKLOW LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Sugarloaf FC 2, Rathnew AFC 3: The early leaders in Division 1 were given a rude awakening by Rathnew last Sunday in a match not short of incident.
The visitors took a surprise two goal lead but ‘Loaf showed good spirit to claw their way back into the game with two goals in a three minute spell. The Bray side then looked like they would go on to win the game, but a well worked set piece six minutes from the end meant the points belonged to Rathnew. Both sides then finished with ten men however after Rathnew’s Jody Merrigan let himself down by confronting Shane Dunne and raising his arms and he was justly shown a red card, while Dunne was harshly shown a red card.
With eight minutes on the clock the first opportunity arrived after Paul Ronan neatly flicked a long ball goalward but his effort was just wide.
Two minutes later and the home side fought back with a chance of their own. Greg Lupak released Eoin McMahon but his first time effort didn’t trouble John Byrne in the Rathnew net.
The first goal of the game then came along and it is one Luke Byrne will want to forget as soon as he can.
Kenneth Doyle’s right wing corner was bundled into the goal and although it was hard to tell initially who had got the final touch, Byrne’s helpful team- mates were in no doubt as to who scored it. Who needs enemies huh?
On 23 minutes McMahon had his second chance of what was an extremely frustrating game for him.
Lupak was the man who delivered the killer ball again and this time Byrne spilled McMahon’s shot but dived on the rebound before anyone else got there.
A non-existent Sugarloaf defence then allowed Nicky Mernagh to stroll through the middle leaving him with only Colum Tinsley to beat but the shot stopper did fantastic to get his fingertips to the striker’s low drive, then watched in agony as it trickled towards the goal before hitting the post.
Two minutes before the break and again McMahon was causing the Rathnew defence nightmares. Lupak, who combined brilliantly with the striker throughout, flicked the ball out wide for McMahon to smash it and that he did, but Byrne was equal to it again.
It took Rathnew only six minutes of the second half to double their lead and it was a delicious strike that did it for them.
The ball was played into Kenneth Doyle’s feet and he skipped back beyond his man to create space before curling the ball into the top corner of the net with his left foot from 20 yards. Time was ticking by for Sugarloaf and if they were to have any chance of winning the game, they had to score soon and that’s precisely what they did on 63 minutes when Emmett Lawless’s cross from the right was nodded in by Lupak.
John Byrne barely had time to take a breath before he was picking the ball out of his net again moments later.
A quick counter-attack saw Lawless punt the ball forward and McMahon was able to keep his marker at bay before slotting the ball past the ‘keeper and the relief of the striker was plain for all to see.
Then came the winner with only a few minutes remaining after Sugarloaf’s brave fightback.
Slack marking allowed Rathnew to slip a free kick into Kenneth Doyle’s path on the left and his low driven cross- cum- shot was diverted in by Barry Mernagh.
Then the unnecessary dismissal of a player on each side caused by Merrigan ended an entertaining match on a sour note.
Man of the Match: Kenneth Doyle (Rathnew). A goal and (technically) two assists, not a bad mornings work.
Sugarloaf: Colum Tinsley, Cian Lawlor, Paul Gaskin, Jason Moy, Shane Dunne, Mark Doyle, Adam Dempsey, Luke Byrne (Ciaran Dunne 42’), Greg Lupak, Eoin McMahon, Emmett Lawless. Subs not used: Niall Byrne, Cillian Doyle, Simon Collier, Gary Wogan.
Rathnew: John Byrne, Edward Doyle, Anthony Mernagh, Roy Carthy, Colm Jameson, Paul Ronan (David Shortall 77’), Kenneth Doyle, Karl Doyle, Barry Mernagh, Jody Merrigan, Nicky Mernagh. Subs not used: Gary Doyle, Robbie Irwin.
Rathnew, who beat Sugarloaf in their Division 1 match.
Sugarloaf, who lost out to Rathnew.