Nu­gent stars for Ash­ford

Bray People - - SPORT -


ASH­FORD edged An Tochar in a high scor­ing, en­ter­tain­ing game to keep alive their hopes for pro­gres­sion to the knock out rounds in this IFC Group 1 match at Pearse Park, Ark­low on Satur­day evening.

In a game with many key mo­ments and talk­ing points it was Ash­ford who led from the first minute to the last as full-for­ward Aaron Nu­gent set them on their way with a goal in the open­ing sec­onds. An Tochar are noth­ing if not dogged how­ever and strong fin­ishes to each half saw them twice al­most haul back large deficits.

Ash­ford will be de­lighted though, par­tic­u­larly with their sec­ond half dis­play as they played nearly the whole sec­ond half with 14 men after mid­fielder David Dowl­ing re­ceived his march­ing or­ders for a sec­ond yel­low in the 34th minute.

By the time the 38th minute ar­rived a Conor Davis point had whit­tled down a once nine-point lead for Ash­ford back to the min­i­mum and it looked for all the world that the Round­wood men would push on for the win.

It was Ash­ford though through the di­rect run­ning of Thomas Kearns, the tenac­ity of Mick Tay­lor and the sharp shoot­ing of Nu­gent and Brian Coen who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and went on to kick seven unan­swered points to lead by eight with eight to play.

It would have been easy for An Tochar to drop the heads but for the sec­ond time in the match they went about claw­ing back a big deficit. Liam Gaffney was im­mense for the losers and Bren­dan Swords and Peter Byrne were also to the fore­front on the day but alas they sim­ply ran out of time as de­spite Byrne’s late goal they came up three points short.

It was Nu­gent who started off pro­ceed­ings. He caused havoc for An Tochar, es­pe­cially early on, and within 40 sec­onds he won a long hop­ping ball out in front, turned his marker, leav­ing him for dead be­fore fin­ish­ing low past Peter O’Toole.

An Tochar brought an ex­tra man back in front of the full-back line to try and curb his in­flu­ence but Nu­gent was to have a fine game all evening.

Liam Gaffney fisted over An Tochar’s first point and for the next 15 min­utes it was a tit for tat af­fair as points from Brian Coen and Nu­gent were can­celled out by one point­ers from Conor Davis, Liam Kenna and Peter Byrne to leave just the early goal be­tween the sides, 1-5 to 0-5 after 15 min­utes.

The next 10 was owned by Ash­ford though as Gavin Weir and Nu­gent added points be­fore the tal­ented attacker soloed in be­hind and hit in a low, drib­b­ley shot, ag­o­nis­ingly out of reach, for his sec­ond goal. Brian Coen added a point from the re­sul­tant kick out to put Ash­ford nine ahead but you got a sense that the game was so open that An Tochar were still not dead and buried.

And in what was a mir­ror im­age of Mayo’s im­me­di­ate re­sponse through Lee Kee­gan’s goal on Sun­day, Round­wood re­sponded. Liam Gaffney re­ceived the ball 50 yards out and set the sat­nav straight for Ash­ford’s goal. He tore through and fin­ished low and hard to Liam Hen­der’s right.

Gaffney was bril­liant for An Tochar on the day. He more re­sem­bles a rhinoceros than a gazelle in full flight but Ash­ford were at odds to know how to stop his di­rect run­ning as he bull­dozed through time and again and the goal was cer­tainly the prime ex­am­ple of this.

Conor Davis had an­other goal chance blocked but Peter Byrne and Gaffney added points to leave just a score in it at the break.

There were plenty of big hits in the first half, and a lot of them were not on time, and it was clear from the start of the sec­ond half that both sides wanted to lay down a marker in the phys­i­cal stakes as fists, el­bows, knees and most other body parts went fly­ing into tack­les on both sides as the ref­eree had his hand’s full.

It was from one of th­ese tough tack­les that Ash­ford’s David Dowl­ing protested a bit too vig­or­ously, and re­ceived a sec­ond yel­low, as he headed for an early shower to leave Ash­ford a man down with 26 min­utes of nor­mal time to play. Conor Davis hit over two points, the sec­ond a beauty from the stand side which he curled in­side the right post, to leave a point in it as the smart money seemed to be on the men in blue to push on for the win.

Peter Byrne al­most stole in for what would’ve been a clean run through on goal but Ash­ford’s Corko­nian full-back Ro­nan Su­grue made a fan­tas­tic over­head catch in­ter­cep­tion in what was, on re­flec­tion, a key mo­ment in the match.

Corner back Mick Tay­lor made four or five surg­ing runs for Ash­ford and his point from over 30 yards brought the lead to two points and was the cat­a­lyst for Ash­ford’s best spell as they kicked seven points in a row be­tween the 40th and 52nd min­utes.

Wing back Thomas Kearns has sear­ing pace and he stepped up at this cru­cial time to make three lung burst­ing runs up his left wing which re­sulted in di­rect scores or else he was hauled down en­abling the trusty right boot of Coen to dis­sect the posts with the leather.

Twice Nu­gent cut in off the right to curl over with his left and with eight min­utes of nor­mal time and as many points down An Tochar had a moun­tain to climb.

They made a great first at haul­ing back the deficit but alas de­spite Byrne’s goal from a tight an­gle fa­ther time was sim­ply not on their side as Ash­ford hung on for a cru­cial win.

Scor­ers - Ash­ford: Aaron Nu­gent 2-4 (1f), Brian Coen 0-8 (5f). Gavin Weir 0-1, Graham Mooney 0-1, Mick Tay­lor 0-1.

An Tochar: Peter Byrne 1-4 (0-1 free), Liam Gaffney 1-2, Conor Davis 0-5 (2f), Liam Kenna 0-1.

Liam Hen­der-Phillips, Mick Tay­lor, Ro­nan Su­grue, Micheal Dickinson, Thomas Kearns, Daniel Ka­vanagh, Robert Clark­son, Gavin Weir, David Dowl­ing, Ross Quinn, Brian Coen, Dean Mooney, Cal Con­nolly, Graham Mooney, Aaron Nu­gent. Subs: Mikey Traynor for Robert Clark­son (42 mins), Bren­dan Man­ning for Cal Con­nolly (42 mins), Lee Fitzpatrick for Ross Quinn (45 mins).

Peter O’Toole, David Mol­loy, Gavin Kenny, Noel Power, Stephen Con­nor, Bren­dan Swords, Joe Gaffney, Jamie Sal­ley, Conor Short, Ea­monn Wolo­han, Liam Kenna, Liam Gaffney, Peter Byrne, Conor Davis, Mark Keenan. Subs: Jack Mock­ler for Mark keenan (42 mins), Ste­fan Collier for Joe Gaffney (47 mins).

Liam Cullen

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