Byrne wins it for Rathnew
Rathnew 2-8, Stratford 1-10: One of the best games of Junior football witnessed in the championship this year was played under lights in Annacurra on Saturday night.
JCFC SEMI-FINAL In the end full-forward Robert Byrne kicked over a ‘45 on the stroke of the hour to give Rathnew victory over Stratford in the second semi-final of the NDC Junior Football Championship.
The sides were level six times in a cracking second-half before Stratford goalie Ultan Rooney was unlucky to touch a ball that was going wide in the last minute. The resultant ‘45 proved enough to give Rathnew victory and a place in the final against Kiltegan.
Dermot Phelan gave Stratford an early lead but Danny Quinn levelled the game in the fifth minute. Stratford had the next three points, all scored by the lively Paddy Byrne to lead by 0-4 to 0-1 after 15 minutes. After missing some easy kicks Robert Byrne pointed a free to keep Rathnew in touch.
In the 21st minute crafty veteran Ed Jameson worked in along the end line to set up Brian Murphy for the first goal of the match and Rathnew were in front for the first time. Robert Byrne and Paddy Byrne exchanged points – both frees to leave it 1-3 to 0-5 in favour of Rathnew at half-time.
Anthony Frahill levelled the game after four minutes of the second-half and when he hit the post with another shot two minutes later Paddy Byrne was in to grab an opportunist goal and Stratford were back in front.
In the eight minute Brian (Bomber) Murphy was in for his second goal, Ed Jameson again supplying the pass and the game was level for a third time.
Rathnew went ahead four more times as a great battle raged but each time Stratford hauled them back. Danny Quinn, Robert Byrne, Jason Stafford and Nigel Darragh all edged Rathnew in front with sub David Nolan levelling on one occasion and the hard working Anthony Frahill tieing the game three times.
Both sides had missed chances of going ahead before Rathnew attacked down the right but a shot for a point was going out wide on the left. The goalie was policing it over the line when he made contact. With a kicker like Byrne around that proved a fatal mistake.
Rathnew: James Hollingsworth; Ian McDonald, John Jameson, Eric Doyle; Ricky Doyle, Willie Jameson, John Hubbard; Jason Stafford (0-1), Nigel Darragh (0-1); Ed Doyle, Danny Quinn (0-2), Seamus Byrne; Brian Murphy (2-0), Robert Byrne (0-4), Ed Jameson. Sub. - Tommy Doyle for Eric Doyle.
Stratford: Ultan Rooney; Paul Sleator, Declan Bollard, Paddy Dunne; James Fanning, Alan Kealy, Nigel O’Neill; James Barrett, Mervyn O’Neill; Dermot Phelan (0-1), Anthont Frahill (0-4), Paddy Twyfort; George Manley, Shane O’Neill, Paddy Byrne (1-4). Subs. - Damien O’Neill for Twyfort, David Nolan (0-1) for Dunne; Michael Hanbidge for S. O’Neill.
Referee: Ciarán Kenny (Tinahely).