Late Mer­nagh goal wins it for Rath­new

FO­CUS MATCH WICK­LOW LEAGUE DIVI­SION ONE

Bray People - - Sport - Daniel GOR­MAN

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.

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