STRATFORD RISE TO THE SUMMIT
Aughrim men run out of time
STRATFORD-GRANGECON went clear at the top of Division 2 of the SFL with this hard earned win over Aughrim at Stratford on Sunday.
However, it was only a last minute goal by midfielder Mark Landan that finally decided the result in a match that had been heading for, and looking like a draw, for a long time.
While this was a great battle from start to finish it was also a match of missed chances and poor finishing. While the home side were the biggest offenders as far as missing chances was concerned the Aughrim management could also point to scoring chances they spurned that could and should have turned the tide
The sides were level six times over the hour and that statistic alone tells its own story.
Derek Kavanagh had the first point of the match but Michael Carroll pointed a free to bring the sides level. 'Shamrock' was in again to add another point but Michael Mangan, who had a great game at midfield, cancelled that one out.
Aughrim has a real find in Avondale CC student, Dean Newsome. The youngster started a most productive day with a point from a free in the 15th minute.
At that stage centrehalf back Jason Bolger lost patience with his wasteful forwards and went charging through the middle to send over a point and show them how it is done.
The home side went in front for the first time when Ciaran Byrne scored the first goal of the match after good work by Eoin 0'Neill and Carroll.
The Slaneysiders suffered a hammer blow at that stage when their strong full back, Marcus Hanbidge, was sent off on a black card. They brought in their one and only sub, James Barrett, and pulled Eoin O'Neill back to anchor the defence.
Aughrim made full use of the break to send over three good points (two frees by Newsome and one from play by Derek Kavanagh) to level the game for a fourth time. Half time - Stratford-Grangecon 1-3; Aughrim 0-6. Aughrim made a great start to the second half and won a free in their first attack. Young Newsome made no mistake with the kick and his side were back in front. Another attack, another free and another Newsome point and Aughrim were looking good.
Stratford hit back quickly; Mikey Carroll opened their second half account and Ciaran Byrne levelled the game again.
Michael Mangan put Stratford in front and Derek Kavanagh had the point of the match and the sides were lever for a sixth time with only 12 minutes of the second half gone.
The last quarter saw only two more scores and both went to the home side. After both sides, but in particular Aughrim had spurned chances to go ahead that great veteran Ciaran Byrne sent over a point for Stratford-Grangecon in the 20th minute.
Aughrim had a couple of chances to level the game again before the hard working Mark Landan won possession at midfield, used his great strength to plough through the defence and plant the ball in Lar O'Brien's net.
With only one minute left on the watch Aughrim had no chance to get back into the game. Anytime they got within scoring distance they went for goals but with Paddy Cronin in sparking form they had no chance of getting the goal they needed.
Ballymanus's win over Knockananna on Saturday put them level at the top of the with leaders Dunlavin but with the Kildare border men not playing at the weekend this win puts the Slaneysiders clear at the top of the table.
However, this division is a very tight and that position could well have changed before you read this.
The fact that Aughrim had only one scorer from play underlines the need to get back their missing players, including county goalie, Robert Lambert, as soon as possible.
They have some very promising young players, including the Phelan brothers at midfield.
Scorers - Stratford-Grangecon - Ciaran Byrne 1-2; Mark Landan 1-0; Michael Mangan and Michael Carroll 0-2 each. Jason Bolger 0-1. Aughrim - Dean Newsome 0-5; Derek Kavanagh 0-4. Stratford-Grangecon - Paddy Cronin; Adam Doyle, Marcus Hanbidge, Alan Kealy; Jimmy Barrett, Jason Bolger, Paddy Walsh; Michael Mangan, Mark Landan; Michael Carroll, Eoin O'Neill, Matt Manley; Dermot Phelan, Ciaran Byrne, Sean O'Neill. Sub James Barrett for Hanbidge.
Aughrim - Lar O'Brien; Syl Doyle, Steven Mann, Willie Kavanagh; Jason Doyle, Oisin Doyle, Conor Lambert; Paddy and Conor Phelan; Patrick Kavanagh, Mick Brennan, Peter Quigley; Dean Newsome, Derik Kavanagh and Bill Byrne.