McDonald makes huge difference for Greystones men
COMING into this game, Éire Óg led their group after defeating Annacurra in the opening round and faced Avondale in the knowledge that a victory would represent a major step towards sealing top spot.
The Greystones men started at a frantic pace, with Darren Hayden in particular finding oceans of space in behind the Avondale half-back line on several occasions.
While Éire Óg raced into a two point lead through Hayden and the impressive Daniel Keane, it could have been so much better as two goal chances went abegging.
With Éire Óg seemingly on the cusp of pulling further ahead, Avondale suddenly came to life. Deep in the opposition half with Eire Og back in numbers, Avondale put together one of the moves of the season to raise a green flag. Showing impressive patience, the ball was worked in and out, over and back before an incisive run from Ryan Cahill split the Eire Og defence in two.
Cahill passed across the goal to find Seamus McGraynor who dispatched to the net with ease.
While McGraynor’s goal was a simple finish, there was nothing easy about his next score moments later. From the narrowest of angles on the wrong side for a right footer, McGraynor made a mockery of Father Time by slotting over a point that wouldn’t look out of place on any stage.
Suddenly the momentum was with Avondale and they began to find more scoring opportunities. A high ball in from Barry Sheehan fell for Cahill who slotted a point before Dean Gahan drilled over from distance.
Enda King responded twice for his side but Éire Óg were struggling to gain any meaningful possession in the opposition half owing to a combination of sloppy hands when receiving the ball and an apparent unwillingness to play to full-forward Billy Norman’s strengths by sending high balls into the edge of the square.
When such a pass did come in, it was Darren Hayden who found himself the target and the county star did well to bat the ball goalward, forcing goalkeeper Brian Burke into a fine instinctive save. However, Burke was unfortunate to see the ball end up in the net when Billy Norman bravely dove for the ball and punched it just inside the post as it drifted across goal.
They say the next score after a goal is crucial, with a point for the conceding team often seen as a sign that they will not let the heads drop.
Avondale had no interest in a point. Going straight up the field form the kickout, Cian O’ Hannain came into the possession in the square surrounded by a crowd of bodies. Somewhere in the thick of the scrum, a foul occurred as O’ Hannain tried to play the ball across goal to a team-mate and referee Kieron Kenny pointed to the spot for a penalty.
Sean McGraynor proceeded to send Éire Óg netminder Darren Quigley the wrong way and raise a green flag in what was a bitter blow for the Greystones men having just scored a goal of their own mere moments earlier.
Behind going into the second half, Éire Óg started the second half brightly with scores from each of their half-forwards pushing them ahead before Avondale responded through Conor Byrne and Ryan Cahill.
Going into the final quarter, the game was balanced on a knife edge before the Éire Óg management introduced Jamie McDonald.
It is no exaggeration to say this switch changed the game, with McDonald firing his side into the lead with a series of impressive scores. McDonald showed a real poacher’s instincts throughout his time on the pitch, consistently popping up in the right place at the right time to slot over the bar. The forward would go on to finish the game with four points, all of which came at crucial periods and really killed off the Avondale challenge.
It could have been so much different for Avondale had they converted one of several goal opportunities in the opening stages of the first half but their wasteful shooting came back to haunt them, and in the end Éire Óg won out in relative comfort to solidify their standing at the top of the group table.
A late red card for Peter Keane for a second yellow did little to dampen the mood in the Éire Óg camp after a second successive victory.
Scorers – Éire Óg Greystones: Billy Norman 1-00, Jamie McDonald 0-04, Daniel Keane 0-02, Darren Hayden 0-03, Enda King 0-03, Daniel Woods 0-02, Craig Smullen 0-01, Darren Quigley 0-01 (45).
Avondale: Seamus McGraynor 1-01, Sean McGraynor 1-02(0-01f), Dean Gahan 0-01, Conor Byrne 0-02, Liam Kinsella 0-01, Ryan Cahill 0-02.
Éire Óg: Darren Quigley; Liam Maguire, Justin O’Brien, Peter Keane; Sean Horan, Leon Browne, Craig Smullen; Pearse Kelly, Daniel Woods; Daniel Keane, Enda King, Darren Hayden; Dominic O’Reilly, Billy Norman, Eoghan McPhilibin. Subs: Steven Lee, Ian Heffernan, Conor Sheehan, James Busher, Saoirse Kearnon, Cormac Doyle.
Avondale: Brian Burke, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Paudie Geoghegan, Shane Beevor, Mark Baker, Davy Baker, Liam Kinsella, Dean Gahan, Barry Sheehan, Shay McGraynor, Conor Byrne, Eugene Dunne, Cian O’ hAnnain, Sean McGraynor, Ryan Cahill. Subs: James Delahunty, Jamie McDonald, Fintan O’ Shea, Eoin McHugh, Sean Lawlor.
Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely)
Éire Og’s DanielWoods out jumps Avondale’s Barry Sheehan during the SFC in Pearse’s Park, Arklow. Picture: Garry O’Neill