In the groove

Bray People - - SPORT -

get­ting the op­por­tu­nity from a placed ball and he duly obliged to send the ball over the black spot.

Af­ter such a poor open­ing Hol­ly­wood found them­selves only a point down af­ter 20 min­utes and they grad­u­ally be­gan to take over around the mid­dle third with the likes of Matthew and Robert Kelly and Peadar Traynor win­ning count­less balls and burst­ing for­ward or de­liv­er­ing into the two man for­ward line of Hannon and Joe Glen­non.

The first goal duly ar­rived as the ball was de­liv­ered in long and early as PJ O’Keefe picked out Hannon who made no mis­take with a smart fin­ish to the bot­tom cor­ner.

The goal was a real sucker-punch for Ash­ford and de­spite adding a cou­ple of scores through Coen frees it was Hol­ly­wood who dom­i­nated till the end of the half with a fur­ther four scores, the pick of which was a peach from Robert Kelly with the out­side of his right boot, to lead by five at the break.

The sec­ond half had a sense of in­evitabil­ity about it as al­though Ash­ford clung on to Hol­ly­wood’s coat tails early on there was a sense that Hol­ly­wood were al­ways go­ing to pull away as they seemed to take over in most ar­eas of the pitch.

Ash­ford did hit the first blow how­ever as fol­low­ing a bril­liant 40 yard run wing back, and prob­a­bly Ash­ford’s best player on the day, Thomas Kearns has had his pile driver blocked only for sub­sti­tute Cian Staunton to guide the re­bound into the empty net to bring the deficit back to just three points.

Ash­ford badly needed the kick on and get the next few scores but to Hol­ly­wood’s credit they didn’t panic and com­pletely took over at mid­field.

O’Keefe and Hannon on the turn kicked a cou­ple of great scores to ex­tend the lead be­fore cen­tre back Mikey Healy split through the mid­dle and got on the end of a good move to bury to the net and bury Ash­ford’s chances of a win once and for all.

Fur­ther gloss was added to the score as O’Keefe ben­e­fited from good work from Ciarán Tyrell to goal and Hol­ly­wood ran out 12 point win­ners in the end.

Scor­ers - Hol­ly­wood: Tony Hannon 1-7 (0-3 frees), PJ O’Keefe 1-1, Mikey Healy 1-0, Cian Tyrell 0-2, Stephen Kear­ney 0-1, Robert Kelly 0-1, Conor Burke 0-1.

Ash­ford: Brian Coen 0-5 (0-4 frees), Cian Staunton 1-0, Gavin Weir 0-1, Brian Shan­non0-1.

STRAT­FORD-G’CON AN TOCHAR 1-11 1-10

STRAT­FORD took the spoils in this lively en­counter in Round 1 of this D’Arcy Sands In­ter­me­di­ate Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship match played out in ideal con­di­tions re­cently.

Joe Gaffney pointed in the sec­ond minute to get An Tochar off the mark. Strat­ford hit three bad wides be­fore Ross Coogan opened their ac­count in the fifth minute with a great long-range point.

Joe Gaffney was booked for a heavy tackle on his op­po­nent mo­ments later. Mikey Man­gan dou­bled the lead af­ter good work by Mark Lan­don.

Scores were hard to come by as both sets of de­fences were putting in a big shift. Goalie Peter O’Toole tried to be a lit­tle bit too pre­cise with a kick-out, that was bril­liantly read and in­ter­cepted by the ever-alert Ja­son Bol­ger, who laid off to Matt Man­ley whose shot just rose over the cross­bar for a point.

In the 13th minute Peter O’Toole took the re­sul­tant kick­out and it fell straight into the arms of Strat­ford’s num­ber 13, Mark Mur­phy, thirty me­tres out, straight in front of the posts. Mur­phy let fly and ripped the net out of it with O’Toole rooted on the 13-me­tre line, curs­ing his luck, for a huge turn­ing point in the game.

Liam Gaffney won the re­sul­tant kick-out and put through Mark Keenan on goal, but Paddy Cronin dived low to his right hand side for a bril­liant save from Keenan’s shot, to the roars of ap­proval from the large Strat­ford faith­ful, to close out the open­ing quar­ter.

Peter Byrne pointed a free for An Tochar’s sec­ond score, as they started to ap­ply pres­sure. Liam Gaffney who was putting in a big shift, again fed Mark Keenan with a peach of a ball, but yet again the ball was scram­bled out off the goal-line and cleared as an­other great chance went un­pun­ished. Yet again, both de­fences stood firm as no score was reg­is­tered for an­other ten min­utes. Colin Byrne had a goal chance for the Slaneysiders but Peter O’Toole bril­liantly saved and cleared.

Peter Byrne pointed an­other free for An Tochar to re­duce the gap to three points. Bren­dan Kennedy and Peter Byrne let Strat­ford off the hook when tag­ging on a wide each.

In the 28th minute, Paddy Walsh bril­liantly in­ter­cepted the ball on his own 14-me­tre line and soloed 80 me­tres up the pitch and landed an in­spi­ra­tional point for Strat­ford.

Matt Man­ley added an­other point af­ter great work by Eoin O’Neill. Round­wood fin­ished out the half adding on a brace of points from Bren­dan Kennedy and Conor Davis to leave the half-time score 1-05 to 0-05 in favour of Strat­ford-Grangecon.

An Tochar thought they had a penalty in the open­ing minute af­ter the restart when Joe Gaffney went down un­der pres­sure in the big square, as his shot went wide, but Gareth Whe­lan deemed no foul. Kieran Byrne rounded his marker and tagged on a good point.

Man­ager Mervyn O’Neill brought on Mark Caplice and Diar­muid Cronin. Bren­dan Kennedy and Liam Gaffney were in­volved in all the good build up play by An Tochar and when Conor Davis was fouled, Peter Byrne pointed the free to re­duce the deficit to three points. Eoin O’Neill and Mikey Man­gan were link­ing up well as a brace of points fol­lowed from Mark Mur­phy and Diar­muid Cronin to re­store a five-point cush­ion with 39 min­utes on the clock. Bren­dan Kennedy won pos­ses­sion of the kick­out and found full-back Gavin Kenny who drove up the field and fed the ball back to the on run­ning Kennedy, who shook the back of Cronin’s net as an in­stant re­ply.

Mo­ments later, An Tochar suf­fered a mas­sive blow when they lost Joe Gaffney on a sec­ond yel­low af­ter a lines­man call to the ref.

In fact this spurred on An Tochar with Mark Keenan hit­ting a great point and Peter Byrne point­ing an­other free to level mat­ters, as the tem­per­a­ture gauge rose go­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter.

Shane Byrne was in­tro­duced into the fray for Strat­ford. The game got a bit messy with some off the ball non­sense, how­ever An Tochar hit the front in the 40th minute, when Ea­mon Wolo­han fed Liam Gaffney who pointed as it was all Round­wood at this stage.

Paddy Walsh broke down an­other at­tack and found Mark Caplice who lev­elled mat­ters.

Colin Byrne had a good goal chance well saved by O’Toole as Strat­ford went for the jugu­lar. David Cush put the Slaneysiders back in front with a point that de­flected over off the up­right.

Yet again, to their credit back came An Tochar, once again Peter Byrne lev­elled mat­ters with a long range free with 55 min­utes played.

Diar­muid Cronin landed a mon­ster of a point from 55 me­tres out as once again Strat­ford edged in front. Bren­dan Kennedy took the paint off the out­side of the up­right as an equaliser got away.

The ref­eree felt the full wrath of man­ager Andy Jame­son and the Round­wood faith­ful as they thought Diar­muid Cronin got away lightly, with only a yel­low card for a tackle on one of their play­ers. Bren­dan Kennedy picked up a black card with two min­utes to go which was a ma­jor loss for An Tochar as this cru­cial stage.

In the fi­nal minute Peter Byrne had a 45-me­tre free for the chance of an equaliser, how­ever his ef­fort tailed wide as we went into five ad­di­tional tense min­utes of ad­di­tional time. How­ever nei­ther side could im­prove on their tally and Strat­ford held out as the full­time whis­tle sounded.

Strat­ford scor­ers: Mark Mur­phy 1-01, Matt Man­ley 0-02, Diar­muid Cronin 0-02, Ross Coogan 0-01, Michael Man­gan 0-01, David Cush 0-01, Mark Caplice 0-01, Kieran Byrne 0-01, Pat Walsh 0-01.

An Tóchar scor­ers: Peter Byrne 0-05, Bren­dan Ken­nendy 1-01, Joe Gaffney 0-01, Conor Davis 0-01, Liam Gaffney 0-01, Mark Keenan 0-01.

Ash­ford’s Mikey Tre­anor is closed down by Hol­ly­wood’s Conor Burke.

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