THE CHAMPS ARE RISING
A notice for all other clubs, your county champions will not give away their title easily. Baltinglass took a half to methodically break down Coolkenno, peppering them with shots to find their range and their opponent’s weak spots. When the teams emerged after half-time for round two, it was lights out for Coolkenno within eight minutes.
First, Henry Synnott’s goal buckled their legs, then Adam McHugh knocked them to the canvas. When Conor Walker had the temerity to claw back a score, Ian Sheerin played a defence splitting ball and Synnott knocked them down again, this time for good. 38 minutes gone and it was all over bar the formalities, 3-08 to four points.
Baltinglass were dominant around the middle sector of the field and some of their tackling was exceptional, Stephen Heaslip to the fore. He may not end up on the scoring charts like his brother Christopher but he never gave the Coolkenno players a moment on the ball.
If the tackling was good, the kick outs were better. Mark Jackson had a 100 per cent success rate from his kick outs but the pace of his kick outs were Cluxton-esque. The moment a ball went either over the bar or wide he was getting ready for the kick out and Coolkenno didn’t have a chance to organise any form of resistance. Jackson could go short to his fullback line or, if necessary, he could pick a player out 50 yards away. It’s another weapon in their arsenal.
Coolkenno kept with Baltinglass for the opening quarter but gradually the champions wore them down and took their chances while Coolkenno went wide with the limited chances they had.
They had a two-man full forward line of Conor Walker and Eamon Rossiter who will cause havoc for any team out there but they were often isolated, outnumbered by the Baltinglass full-back line while the Coolkenno half-forward line were forced back around midfield to retain possession and unable to offer any support.
Baltinglass just about shaded the opening 10 minutes, leading three points to two. Both teams had goal chances, Cathal Rossiter made a despairing block to stop John McGrath while Paul Murphy was just fingertips away from being one on one with Jackson following a lovely Walker pass.
Baltinglass didn’t shoot the lights out in the first half, both teams went eight minutes without a score, but they reeled off four points in a row in the second quarter to take control of the game and lead by five points. Coolkenno had their chances, kicking two wides, though Adam McHugh almost scored a goal too, John Corcoran
with a good save.
Eamon Rossiter finished the half with a fine individual effort to leave four between the teams at half time, 7-3.
Within eight minutes the game, as a contest, was over. Rossiter kicked a wide and Jackson got the game underway again with a quick kick out down the right wing. Pat Burke was in support from half back and following some neat interplay he found himself bearing in on goal along the end line. He passed across the goal for Synnott to palm the ball into the net.
The second goal came almost instantly. A poor Coolkenno ball went straight to Baltinglass’ sweeper Billy Cullen and they had another goal on their mind. John McGrath could have taken a relatively easy point opportunity, instead the ball went to McHugh via Jason Kennedy for the three-pointer. Sean O’Brien and Conor Walker traded points before Ian Sheerin, back from his early year travels, played a delightful ball to split open the Coolkenno defence and Synnott had his second goal of the afternoon.
Wham, bam, thank you Ma’am, there was no way back for Coolkenno.
Brian Rossiter moved up to the full-forward line from his sweeper role with 10 minutes to go and scored a consolation 1-01 before he and his brother Eamon were sent off late in the game as the teams engaged in some handbag stuff.
Next up is the heavyweight bout between Baltinglass and Rathnew while Coolkenno have little more than pride and some form to play for against St. Pat’s as their championship journey is over and they will enter the Keating Trophy with the worrying news emerging that the Jackman brothers may no longer available for selection while Cathal Rossiter is said to have picked up a serious injury late on in this game.
Scorers – Baltinglass: Henry Synnott 2-00; Adam McHugh (1f) 1-01; Christopher Heaslip 0-04; Sean O’Brien, John McGrath 0-02 each; Mark Jackson (1 45), Mikey English 0-01 each.
Coolkenno: Conor Walker (4f) 0-05; Brian Rossiter 1-01; Conor Doyle, Eamon Rossiter 0-01 each.
Baltinglass: Mark Jackson; Tommy Murphy, John Murray, Billy Cullen; Pat Burke, Kevin Murphy, Ian Sheerin; Mikey English, Jason Kennedy; Christopher Heaslip, Henry Synnott, Stephen Heaslip; Adam McHugh, Sean O’Brien, John McGrath. Subs: Alan Nolan for John Murray, Conor Keogh for Henry Synnott, Daniel Kelly for John McGrath (all 40 mins); John Whelan for Sean O’Brien, Aaron Barrett for Thomas Murphy (both 47 mins); Declan Jones for Billy Cullen (51 mins, inj.).
Coolkenno: John Corcoran; Paul Keogh, James Gregan, Cathal Rossiter; Jim Cushe, Philip Timmons, Robert Keogh; Conor Doyle, Paddy Dalton; John Kavanagh, Eoghan Dolan, Paul Murphy; Brian Rossiter, Eamon Rossiter, Conor Walker. Sub: Daniel O’Neill for John Kavanagh (36 mins).
Referee: Damien Byrne (Kiltegan)
Coolkenno’s Robert Keogh and Baltinglass’s Stephen Heaslip compete for the ball during the SFC in Joule Park, Aughrim. Picture: Garry O’Neill