MARKER LAID DOWN!
Rathnew vanquish Baltinglass in Division 1
BALTINGLASS suffered their first league defeat of the season on Saturday and it was a very comprehensive one, dished out by a young Rathnew side.
Baltinglass could boast James Sheerin in their ranks, as well as a cameo from John McGrath.
But they had no answer to Rathnew, who’s fluid attacking and hard-hitting rattled the visitors- who only managed one point from play throughout the 60 minutes.
Wicklow manager Harry Murphy was an inspected spectator in Rathnew and he given permission for midfielder James Sheerin and corner forward John McGrath both to play. McGrath was making his return from an operation and was kept in reserve until half time, when it was decided his qualities were needed to add impetus.
But his introduction didn’t ruffle any feathers for Rathnew, who enjoyed a ten point advantage midway through the second half.
A late goal from Baltinglass’ top scorer Joey Kelly – he was responsible for 1-5 of his side’s 1-6 tally – put a healthier spin on the tie for the west Wicklow men but there was no denying it was a bad day at the office for last year’s runners-up in the championship.
There was a sense of déjà vu in Rathnew on Saturday afternoon as referee Kieran Kenny officiated between Rathnew and Baltinglass, just as he had when Rathnew claimed the biggest prize in Wicklow football last season.
The first point came within the first minute; Nicky Mernagh was on the receiving end of a foul and Edward Doyle dropped the contest’s first free kick over the bar.
A vintage Tommy Gill point soon followed before Kelly got his side off the mark in the fifth minute.
Rathnew corner forward Paul Ellis sent a shot floating towards the crossbar and it appeared to just pass over the crossbar before full forward Mark Doyle made sure by slapping it on.
The home momentum was clearly building and Philip Murphy cashed in on that as he ballooned an effort over from a decent distance out.
Ross O’Brien was next off the production line to make life difficult for Baltinglass. He burst onto a pass as he bore down on goal an in typical, nononsense fashion, he put his laces through the ball to leave the umpires in no doubt.
Kelly reduced the arrears to 0-5 0-2 when he notched his second point after some hard running by Henry Sinnott had illegally been stopped.
Kelly could chip away at Rathnew’s lead all he wanted, but he never came close to threatening Rathnew’s grip on this match.
Tommy Gill continues to prove that age is just a number as the 36 year old sent his second effort sailing between the posts.
Baltinglass got a sniff of a goal chance in the 26th minute. Sinnott fed Johnny Flynn who offloaded it to Billy Cullen but before the centre half back could test Peter Dignam, he was wiped out by an almighty shoulder from Rathnew corner back Dean Franey.
Kelly made up for it slightly as his third successful free left three points between the sides at the break. Three quickly became four, and then five, and then six in the first four minutes of the second period.
Theo Smith got things underway as he fisted a point in the 32nd minute and two minutes later he turfed a fine effort over from distance. In-between the midfield man’s two efforts, Edward Doyle engineered some shooting space and landed a point to make it nine points to three in Rathnew’s favour.
Kelly continued to fight the good fight for Baltinglass but Rathnew were really hitting a purple patch.
Half-forward Graham Merrigan bombed down the left and hurled in a deep pass/shot that found Gill. He got his fist to it but it was a weak effort and William Hanlon safely claimed the ball.
Philip Murphy added the next score. His shot initially looked to be heading wide but it curled back in to raise the white flags.
Graham Merrigan then fed Paul Ellis in front of goal and he was denied by a fine block from Hanlon. In the ensuing scramble, Baltinglass centre half back Billy Cullen had the misfortune of turning the ball into his own net.
Gill added a free before Adam Fleming mustered the away side’s one and only point from play.
Baltinglass restored some pride late on as Kelly found a goal and a point but Tommy Gill had the final say; his fourth point – the last kick of the game – wrapping up an impressive 1-12 1-6 victory.
Rathnew scorers: Tommy Gill 0-4 (2F’s), Own Goal, Edward Doyle 0-2 (1F), Philip Murphy 0-2, Theo Smith 0-2, Paul Ellis 0-1, Ross O’Brien 0-1.
Baltinglass scorers: Joey Kelly 1-5 (5F’s), Adam Fleming 0-1.
Rathnew’s Mark Doyle makes a fine catch during the Division 1 clash with Baltinglass in Rathnew. Photo: Barbara Flynn