Battle on for Senior crown
Baltinglass take on Rathnew in pick of quarter-finals
AS MICK O’HAGAN pushes ahead with his fixtures programme, we are now down to the real meat of the senior football championship.
With the completion of the group qualifiers stage at the weekend, the draws were made on Monday night for the knock-out quarter-finals.
The quarter-finals are scheduled for the weekend of September 13 and will see Baltinglass pitted against Coolkenno; Rathnew v. Blessington; Kiltegan v. Tinahely; and Newtown v. St. Patrick’s.
Topping the bill will be the clash of the most crowned champions Rathnew and Blessington, with the west team hitting their best form in a long time on Sunday to knock out Bray Emmets with a controversial injury time point.
Blessington came from behind in the second half to draw level with their opponents in the closing stages and then left Bray gutted at the final whistle as centre-back Wesley Callaghan fired over a disputed winner deep in injury time.
With opinions differing on whether Callaghan’s shot went inside or outside Paul O’Keeffe’s left hand post, Bray Emmets protested vigorously to referee Declan Peppard that the ball went wide.
However the point stood and Bray were out of the championship, their only consolation being that they had contributed handsomely to what was the best game of championship football so far this year.
The question now is can Blessington reproduce last weekend’s form and passion against Rathnew; if they do we are in for another cracker. Hopefully too we will see much bigger crowds at matches from here on in.
On paper Rathnew and Blessington would appear to be in the tougher end of the knock out draws with the winners to face either Baltinglass or Coolkenno in the semi-finals.
That leaves the winners of Kiltegan v. Tinahely to play either St. Patrick’s or Newtown in the other semifinal. In the quarter-final Gail Dunne will be hoping to guide Newtown to victory over his home club of St. Patrick’s, who are now managed by Casey O’Brien.
Draws for the Keating Cup – a competition for the eight teams who failed to qualify from the group phase of the championship – were also made on Monday night and resulted: An Tochar v. AGB; Bray Emmets v. Stratford; Hollywood v. Donard-Glen; Carnew v. Shillelagh, with the latter two being local derby clashes.
All eight teams here will be determined to avoid relegation to intermediate ranks, the dubious reward for not winning any of their matches.
The semi-final of the division four football leagues sees St. Patrick’s (winners of the NE section) v. Knockananna (winners of the SE section). In the final the winners of this match will take on the standard bearers from the West District league.
Newtown's Justin Owens tries to burst past Stratford's Paddy Walsh during the SFC game in Aughrim.