Seag­ulls see off Dun­dalk to go sev­enth in league

Doyle and Mer­nagh cause ab­so­lute havoc

Bray People - - SPORT - BRENDAN LAWRENCE At Kil­cashel, Avoca

IF RATH­NEW play with the con­fi­dence and the class that they did with last Fri­day evening against Ark­low Town FC in the first of the weekend's Wick­low Cup semi-fi­nals then their fel­low vil­lagers bet­ter have a se­ri­ous plan in place for the fi­nal.

The car­niv­o­rous hunger the Rath­new men showed on and off the ball was very im­pres­sive and the pace and fe­roc­ity of their play was a plea­sure to watch and some may say that Ark­low Town FC didn't turn up, but in this frame of mind and in the form shown on Fri­day evening, it was hard to imag­ine them be­ing stopped by any­thing in the Wick­low League.

First of all you had the dy­namic duo of Nicky Mer­nagh and Mark Doyle up front; an ab­so­lutely lethal com­bi­na­tion. Doyle, goal poacher, tor­menter, bullish, de­ter­mined, ev­ery time he touched the ball the Ark­low de­fence seemed to shake at the knees.

Mer­nagh, a work­horse, a pure en­gine, 16-valve, hun­dreds of horse­power, twin ex­haust, you name it, you want a hot rod, you ask for Nicky Mer­nagh, he's your man.

It took Rath­new all of 17 min­utes to grab their opener and Mark Doyle's first of his four goals but from the first minute they looked like they were go­ing to run riot.

Fever­ish in the tackle, re­lent­less in the chas­ing and ha­rass­ing, dom­i­nat­ing in de­fence, led in no small way by a hu­man con­crete block in the form of Jay Devlin, holy sweet divine, this guy was just un­stop­pable on Fri­day evening in Kil­cashel.

Just be­fore kick off he was suck­ing the life out of a cig­a­rette on the side­line, at half time he pet­ri­fied the guts out of an­other cancer stick, send­ing bil­low- ing clouds of smoke into the hazy air, and for the 90 odd min­utes he com­manded an un­for­giv­ing de­fence, save for a pe­riod just be­fore half time when Ark­low ac­tu­ally man­aged to play some foot­ball at their feet and nab a re­ally nice goal, and he cleared, no cleared is too soft a word to use, he scat­tered and scutched ball af­ter ball af­ter ball high up into the trees on the river side of the lovely pitch in Avoca.

The poor birds up in those trees must have thought they were un­der at­tack from U.S drones such was the amount of balls Devlin hacked up into the trees over the course of the 90 min­utes.

And Ark­low Town, what can you say? They were com­pletely caught off guard by the sheer ap­petite of the Rath­new men. They had no an­swer, and they of­fered sev­eral so­lu­tions and in­tro­duced sub­sti­tutes but there was just no halt­ing the march of the Vil­lagers.

Talk on the side­lines was that Ark­low keeper Philip Glee­son had stood in goals due to the ab­sence of a bonafide shot stopper but Glee­son tried hard and, while he might have been out of po­si­tion for one or two, he did his very best.

His first real mo­ment of con­cern came in the sixth minute when Nicky Mer­nagh got his head to a cross from a free to head over the cross­bar. Jay Devlin whipped in the free and the Ark­low men were scream­ing for off­side but no such call was com­ing from the ref­eree

Peter Walker tried to find the busy Shane Roche but that man Devlin proved to be the rock that many an Ark­low at­tack would per­ish on.

The Rath­new plan was sim­ple enough it seemed. Goal­keeper Cathal Moody was to launch his kick­outs down on top of Mer­nagh and Doyle and let that pair of thorns em­bed them­selves into the side of the Ark­low Town de­fence.

On 13 min­utes one of Moody's mis­siles was flicked on by Doyle to Mer­nagh but the lat­ter was ad­judged to be off­side.

Mo­ments later Colin Jame­son pro­vided Doyle with a beauty of a ball but Ark­low had two men shad­ow­ing the Rath­new striker and his in­ten­tions were fluffed out.

A minute later Mer­nagh headed on to Doyle but it was just too far but the writ­ing was spray painted all over the prover­bial wall, if these boys get the ball where they want it there's go­ing to be dam­age, and lots of it.

David Jame­son passed to Mer­nagh who had the pres­ence of mind to at­tempt a bi­cy­cle kick but the move came to noth­ing as Ark­low were de­fend­ing ner­vously but ef­fec­tively up to this point.

One of the things the Ark­low men were al­low­ing was the long balls to bounce and it was from this sit­u­a­tion that Rath­new's first goal came.

Moody's kick­out landed, bounced, and Mark Doyle got in be­hind the de­fence to flick past the out­rush­ing Glee­son. It was a lovely touch, light, just enough.

Doyle headed to the cor­ner flag to cel­e­brate and then while run­ning back yelled some­thing along the lines of “let's keep go­ing now”.

And keep go­ing they did. An Ark­low free was cleared by Chris Gre­gory who held po­si­tion and slipped the ball through for Shane Doyle who lofted the ball over Glee­son on 21 min­utes.

Nicky Mer­nagh fed Shane Doyle with a ball mo­ments later but Karl Kir­wan did very well at the back for Ark­low. But, no mat­ter where the Ark­low lads seemed to clear the ball it was com­ing back in im­me­di­ately and with bells on it.

Nicky Mer­nagh passed to Colin Jame­son who gave it back and Mer­nagh's shot was dealt with by Glee­son.

But on they came, re­lent­less. Shane Doyle to Mark Doyle un­der ma­jor pres­sure from Danny O'Harte, 'Yaboah' holds him off, bears down on goal and lobs Glee­son from the edge of the square. Sublime.

Ark­low, to their ab­so­lute credit bat­tled on, and were re­warded with a goal of their own af­ter 43 min­utes fol­low­ing a short pe­riod of dom­i­nance by them where they got the ball at their feet and played it around.

Sub­sti­tute Cor­mac Hyland found Odie Red­mond with a pass and Red­mond fired past Moody to give the Ark­low lads some hope at the break.

But that hope soon per­ished as a ripper of a free kick from Mark Doyle stretched the Ark­low Town net to make it 4-1 and ef­fec­tively put this tie to bed.

A sweetly struck penalty by Nicky Mer­nagh af­ter 28 min­utes of the sec­ond half pushed the Rath­new men out to 5-1 and they fin­ished this tie with a wellde­served 6-1 vic­tory and a place in the Wick­low Cup fi­nal against Rath­new AFC C.

Rath­new AFC A’s Mark ‘Yaboah’ Doyle wheels away to cel­e­brate af­ter his free kick rock­eted into the back of the Ark­low Town FC net. Photo: Garry O’Neill.

Nicky Mer­nagh heads this ball to­wards goal dur­ing the Wick­low Cup semi-fi­nal against Ark­low.

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