ST PAT’S RULE ROOST

Some clas­sic enoun­ters in cham­pi­onship 2012

Bray People - - SPORT - PETER KEOGH GAA Re­porter

COOGAN STEEL SFC FI­NAL

St Pa­trick’s 1-12; Balt­in­glass 0-14 A good enough Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship but few sur­prises - at least noth­ing to com­pare with the earth shat­ter­ing events of 2011 when Karl O'Dwyer, Ned Ros­siter and the merry men from St Mary's tore up and buried for­ever the record books.

St Pa­trick's from Wicklow Town were crowned cham­pi­ons once again but it was ever so tight against Balt­in­glass in the fi­nal.

The sides were level so many times. A op­por­tunis­tic goal by Paul Earls left it 1-4 to 0-7 at half time.

In the sec­ond half one side and then the other looked to be get­ting on top. James Sheerin and Peadar Burke were get­ting on top at mid­field with time run­ning out but it was Richard Murphy that pointed St Pat's into the lead at a cru­cial stage.

Joey Kelly lev­elled the game one more time and the fix­ture mak­ers were check­ing their books for a date for the re­play.

How­ever wil­low-the-wisp cor­ner for­ward Henry Sin­nott wormed his way through the Pat's de­fence to send over the lead point.

Were the Slaneysiders about to spoil the party on the Wicklow Town side one more time?

Then came the con­tro­ver­sial free against John Flynn and the scores were level again. One report con­cen­trated on the clos­ing min­utes of this game thus: “It was 1-11 to 0-14 in Aughrim, the ref­eree had just sig­nalled two min­utes of in­jury time, the Balt­in­glass goal­keeper John Flynn takes the kick out. He di­rects it hard and long to­wards a mass of bod­ies in 'lar na pairc'. St Pat's get the break - Balto had failed to pick up a sub that had just come on the field, the ball broke kindly to that man Donie Fitzger­ald, he had a straight run at goal and sent over the win­ning point”.

The big­gest crib I heard from Balt­in­glass sup­port­ers was that John Keenan had failed to play out the promised two min­utes. In de­fence of the ref­eree it has to be pointed out that while Balt­in­glass had won the kick out they had lost pos­ses­sion go­ing for­ward and St Pat's were start­ing to play the ball around at the back to kill what­ever sec­onds, if any, were still left.

The com­plaint from the neu­trals in the crowd was that Keenan did not blow the whis­tle when the scores were level and give us all the chance to see this thriller all over again.

It was a rous­ing fi­nal with a lot of what is best in Gaelic foot­ball and one that we will re­mem­ber for a long time.

My match win­ning score was not that late point but the goal from Paul Earls just on half time. That was the score that brought the Town back into the game and gave them the boost they needed for the sec­ond half.

SFC - QUAR­TER-FI­NALS

Bray Em­mets 0-9; Rath­new 0-8. If any­thing in the SFC could be called a sur­prise than this was it.

Not a really big one as Kil­te­gan had beaten the men from the 'thatched city' in the first round. Still the re­sult put the Bray club back where they de­served to be. Balt­in­glass 3-10; An Tochar 1-5 An Tochar had per­formed their gi­ant-killing acts ear­lier and were where they wanted to be - out of the dan­ger of rel­e­ga­tion and on the way back. St Pats 1-13; Eire Og 1-6 Newly pro­moted Eire Og had achieved their main ob­ject - to es­tab­lish them­selves in Se­nior ranks and that to the Gre­stones men was what mat­tered most. Bless­ing­ton 0-12; Hol­ly­wood 1-3 The sur­pris­ing bit was the ease of the vic­tory af­ter Brian Whe­lan's men had looked so good in the qual­i­fiers.

SEMI-FI­NALS

St Pa­tricks 1-13; Bless­ing­ton 0-15

The Town side were a bit lucky af­ter Bless­ing­ton had put on their best per­for­mance at this level in some years.

A fea­ture of the game was some great field­ing by Gavin Mur­ray at mid­field for Bless­ing­ton. Balt­in­glass 0-6; Bray Em­mets 0-6 This came close to be­ing the shock of the year with Niall Gaffney point­ing two frees deep in in­jury time to earn an ever im­prov­ing Bray Em­mets a draw with the hot favourites Re­play - Balt­in­glass 1-14; Bray Em­mets 1-7 We have of­ten heard it said you never give the big boys a sec­ond chance.

How­ever the draw was the 'wake-up' call that Balt­in­glass needed and the sec­ond match left them far bet­ter pre­pared for the fi­nal.

LE­IN­STER CLUB SF CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

St Pa­trick’s 3-10; Eire Og Car­low 2-11 This may or may not have been the match of the year in Aughrim but for sheer drama it would be hard to beat.

What could have gone into the record books as a good, hon­est and en­ter­tain­ing match was deep in in­jury time and St Pa­trick’s were a point in front.

Then with al­most the last kick of the hour Eric McCor­mack sent over the equal­is­ing point from long range - ex­tra time was needed.

Again it was very tight to the end and with just a minute left the Wicklow cham­pi­ons were hang­ing on to a two point lead.

That man again, McCor­mack struck, this time for what looked cer­tainly the win­ning goal. There could not have been more than 60 sec­onds left at most in this thriller. Pa­trick McWal­ter col­lected Colin Byrne's kick out and found su­per sub Donie Fitzger­ald out wide on the wing.

'Fitzy' had been sprung from the bench in the dy­ing sec­onds of the county fi­nal and kicked the win­ning point. Could he get the equaliser again?

Had he done so it would have sent the match to a re­play in Car­low and that was not what Gail Dunne's men wanted. He tried al­right but the goal­posts were just that bit far away.

The ball dropped a foot or two short and there was the great­est goal-poacher of them all, Paul Earls ready, will­ing and able to fist home the win­ner. A year ago it would have been a free out but the change of the square rule meant that the score stood.

St Pa­trick's scor­ers: Austin O'Mal­ley 2-2; Paul Earls 1-2; Matthew Byrne 0-4; Daragh O'Sul­li­van and Tommy Kelly 0-1 each. Sec­ond Round - Port­laoise 3-15; St Pa­trick's 0-4 The less said about this mis­match the bet­ter. The Wicklow Peo­ple called it a rude awak­en­ing.

St Pa­trick's were cer­tainly in dream­land for much of the first half. They were not as poor as they looked but nei­ther were the Laois men as good - they failed to win out in Le­in­ster.

Three sec­ond half points by Austin O'Mal­ley and some hon­est en­deav­our from Pa­trick McWal­ter was about our best mem­o­ries of this game.

D'ARCY SAND IFC

Fi­nal - Avon­dale 1-8; Bal­li­na­cor 0-10 For the GAA sup­porter that likes the week­end when he gets value for his hard earned money they don't come bet­ter that last one in Oc­to­ber of this year; two ab­so­lute thrillers one day af­ter an­other.

The club cham­pi­onship was a thriller but for a full hour of spills and thrills this fi­nal be­tween close neigh­bours even sur­passed that.

Af­ter a start be­dev­illed by walk-overs, ap­peals and ob­jec­tions, the In­ter­me­di­ate grade set­tled down to its usual pat­tern and pro­duced foot­ball and con­tests very close to Se­nior stan­dards, plus a fin­ish that equalled or even sur­passed any­thing that we had wit­nessed in the past.

Quar­ter-fi­nals: Aughrim 0-13; Ash­ford 0-7; Avon­dale 4-8; Shil­le­lagh 1-9; Coolkenno 0-13; Bal­ly­manus 1-8; Bal­li­na­cor 0-15; Dunlavin 1-12. Re­play: Bal­li­na­cor 1-17; Dunlavin 1-13.

Semi-fi­nals: Avon­dale 1-7; Aughrim 0-10. Re­play: Avon­dale 0-13; Aughrim 1-7. Bal­li­na­cor 2-13; Coolkenno 1-7.

From the moment Paddy Byrne took off like a rocket from mid­field to send over a point, this fi­nal was thriller all the way with pace and pas­sion re­main­ing un­til Ian Hef­fer­nan pointed a free for the win­ner in the dy­ing sec­onds.

Ryan Cahill got the only goal of the match in the 19th minute and that put Avon­dale in front but by half time Bal­li­na­cor were back in the lead by 0-6 to 1-2.

The ex­cite­ment and ten­sion never waned. A long stop­page for in­jury had held up play and the game was in the 13th minute of added time when the 'Dales' won a free.

The foul was com­mit­ted out near the cor­ner flag but the ref­eree awarded the free from where the ball landed straight in front of the goal.

It was an easy one for Ian and the cup was on the way to Cor­bal­lis - the 'Dales' were back in se­nior

ranks once more.

JU­NIOR A FOOT­BALL CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Fi­nal - Rath­new 2-14; Bless­ing­ton 0-7 Again foot­ball above what might have been ex­pected in the grade and con­tests of a high or­der. Twelve teams took part in two groups of six. One of the early sur­prises was that Kil­macanogue who were run­ning away with Di­vi­sion 2 of the league were in trou­ble in the group and in the end did not qual­ify.

Semi-fi­nals: Bless­ing­ton 1-8; Balt­in­glass 1-8. Re­play: Blesss­ing­ton 0-16; Balt­in­glass 0-12. Rath­new 3-14; Kil­te­gan 0-4.

This fi­nal was not as one-sided as the score line sug­gests but that is not in any way tak­ing from the mer­its of a great vic­tory by a tal­ented Rath­new side.

Bless­ing­ton put up a brave fight for a long time and with 40 min­utes gone were just one point in ar­rears.

Then a goal by Chris Gre­gory opened the flood gates. Ste­wart Murphy at mid­field, Ross O'Brien in de­fence and Gre­gory, Trevor Doyle and John Sawyer in at­tack were the Rath­new stars. A fea­ture of the game was the high field­ing of veteran Fer­gus Daly for Bless­ing­ton but once again one of Wicklow's great­est ever mid­field­ers left the field with­out a medal.

Rath­new later made it a dou­ble when they beat Barn­dar­rig to bring home the Swan Cup.

JU­NIOR B FOOT­BALL CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Fi­nal - Barn­dar­rig 1-8; Rath­new 1-7 When Barn­dar­rig lifted this tro­phy they were the first bona fide ju­nior team to get their hands on any sil­ver­ware in adult foot­ball this year. But def­i­nitely they were very de­serv­ing win­ners.

Quar­ter-fi­nals: Avon­dale 3-8; St Pa­tricks 2-12; Barn­dar­rig 0-12; Balt­in­glass 2-5.

In the semi-fi­nals Rath­new beat neigh­bours St Pa­trick’s while Barn­dar­rig had a good win over a strong Carnew team.

In the fi­nal Barn­dar­rig had to take the ex­tra pres­sure of a Rath­new team hell bent on mak­ing it a cham­pi­onship dou­ble for the club.

While they held the edge for most of the way led by 1-4 to 0-4 points at half time, they were still hang­ing on by a thread when ref­eree Pat Dunne sounded his fi­nal whis­tle.

Barn­dar­rig, who had one of their bet­ter years, made it a league/cham­pi­onship dou­ble when they beat Balt­in­glass to win Di­vi­sion 4 of the SFL and pick up the cov­eted Gerry Fi­nan Me­mo­rial Cup.

JU­NIOR C FOOT­BALL CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Bray Em­mets 3-10; Blessis­ng­ton 0-4 If close con­tests is what makes a com­pe­ti­tion then this lat­est ad­di­tion to the pro­gramme has more than jus­ti­fied its in­clu­sion.

How­ever like most com­pe­ti­tions in the Ju­nior grade this one is now be­ing dom­i­nated by sec­ond and third teams from se­nior clubs.

Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is a sub­ject for de­bate. Any­way in the end this year Bray Em­mets, as you can see from the score line, proved that bit too strong for the op­po­si­tion al­most all the way and won pulling up in the end.

In fact their top scorer Conor Flan­nery got the un­usual dis­tinc­tion of be­ing named ju­nior foot­baller of the year for 2012.

Quar­ter-fi­nals: Aughrim 2-8; Fear­gal Og 0-14; Re­play: Fear­gal Og 2-16; Aughrim 2-9. Kil­macanogue 1-13; Kil­coole 2-4; Bless­ing­ton 0-13; Ash­ford 2-5. Bray Em­mets 3-14; Val­ley­mount 0-4.

Semi-fi­nals: Bray Em­mets 1-9; Kil­macanogue 1-3; Bless­ing­ton 3-6; Fear­gal Og 0-11. The full list of cham­pi­onship win­ners reads: SFC: St Pats (Balt­in­glass) IFC: Avon­dale (Bal­li­na­cor) Ju­nior A FC: Rath­new (Bless­ing­ton) Ju­nior B FC: Barn­dar­rig (Rath­new) Ju­nior C FC: Bray Em­mets (Bless­ing­ton) MFC: (A): St Ni­cholas (Bless­ing­ton) MFC (B): Balt­in­glass (Eire Og) MFC (C): Ash­ford (Ml Dwyers) U-16 FC: Bless­ing­ton (Bray Em­mets)

St Pa­trick’s goal­keeper Colm Byrne cel­e­brates af­ter his side de­feated Car­low cham­pi­ons Eire Og in Aughrim. The Wicklow town men went on to face Port­laoise in the next round but were well beaten.

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