Geraldines cling on to Di­vi­sion 1 sta­tus

The Argus - - SPORT - Soccer 43

GERALDINES pre­served their top-flight league sta­tus when staving off a spir­ited Kilk­er­ley fight­back to emerge five-point win­ners of the Di­vi­sion 1/2 Play-off in Darver on Fri­day evening.

These two teams are also sched­uled to meet in the SFC Rel­e­ga­tion de­cider and the Em­mets should be fired up for that one as they at­tempt to end their sea­son on a high, while Geraldines will be well sat­is­fied if they can go into 2019 still in the top grade in both the league and cham­pi­onship.

Kilk­er­ley drew first blood un­der the Darver lights when Tadhg McEneaney sent over a dif­fi­cult free in the open­ing sec­onds and Sean Hand pointed from play, but each time Jim McEneaney re­stored par­ity with frees and it was two points apiece af­ter 11 min­utes.

In that first half Kilk­er­ley kicked five wides, to Geraldines’ four, while three scor­ing at­tempts dropped short at each end of the field, but the Hag­gard­stown/Black­rock men even­tu­ally eked out a two-point lead by half-time.

Sean Thorn­ton made it 3-2 with a mag­nif­i­cent tow­er­ing ef­fort and sub­se­quently pro­vided the pass for Pa­trick Hoey to point, and Hoey and Kevin Pep­per then com­bined for Thorn­ton to curl over via the up­right.

Kilk­er­ley’s only re­ply was a pow­er­ful strike from Shane Len­non that skimmed just over the cross­bar and the teams ad­journed at the break with Geraldines 5-3 ahead.

Len­non will look back with re­gret at the open­ing two min­utes of the sec­ond half, when he first screwed a straight­for­ward free wide of the tar­get, be­fore slic­ing a goal at­tempt to­wards the cor­ner flag af­ter good ap­proach play from Rian Hand.

In­stead of lead­ing by two, Kilk­er­ley found them­selves five points in ar­rears when Geraldines found the net from their open­ing sec­ond-half score. A poor kick­out from Em­mets’ Cil­lian Quigley was di­rected straight into the hands of Glen Trainor and he ad­vanced on goal be­fore dink­ing a su­perb fin­ish over the keeper.

When Jim McEneaney con­verted a 14-yard free on 37 min­utes Gers looked to be on their way to a straight­for­ward win, lead­ing 1-6 to 0-3, but they failed to kick on as point ef­forts from Matthew Cor­co­ran and Glen Trainor dropped short into Quigley’s hands.

Tadhg McEneaney grabbed a des­per­ately-needed score for Kilk­er­ley in the 43rd minute, and Geraldines’ re­sponse was to adopt a blan­ket de­fence, with 14 men camped in their own half at var­i­ous times.

Now en­joy­ing more pos­ses­sion, Kilk­er­ley probed pa­tiently and be­gan to chip away at their op­po­nents’ ad­van­tage. McEneaney (from play) and Len­non (free) had the gap down to a goal and in be­tween McEneaney had a goal at­tempt bril­liantly blocked down by Tier­nan Hand.

The ten­sion amongst the Geraldines man­age­ment and sup­port­ers was pal­pa­ble when

James Fe­gan fisted over the bar and Len­non made it a one-point game with Kilk­er­ley’s fifth con­sec­u­tive score in the 54th minute.

In the nick of time, though, Glen Trainor gath­ered a high delivery from Jim McEneaney and swapped passes with Gareth Neacy be­fore kick­ing a fine point - Gers’ first in 18 min­utes - to make it 1-7 to 0-8.

A su­perbly struck long-range ef­fort from Jim McEneaney in­creased the gap back to three, but Kilk­er­ley weren’t fin­ished yet and they al­most crafted a goal through Ciaran Murtagh. Neacy was sent off for a foot-block aris­ing out of that in­ci­dent and Tadhg McEneaney pointed the re­sult­ing free.

In their des­per­ate pur­suit of what would have been a win­ning goal, Kilk­er­ley were sus­cep­ti­ble to the counter-at­tack, though, and so it proved head­ing into stop­page time as Trainor set up sub­sti­tute Josh Ar­row­smith who fired de­ci­sively past Quigley to seal vic­tory for a re­lieved Geraldines.

GERALDINES: Sean McEneaney; Ryan Trainor, James Craven, Daniel Flynn; Tier­nan Hand, Jack Traynor, James Cor­ri­gan; Pa­trick Hoey 0-1, Matthew Cor­co­ran; Gareth Neacy, Stephen Reidy, Sean Thorn­ton 0-2; Kevin Pep­per, Jim McEneaney 0-4 (3f), Glen Trainor 1-1. Subs: Josh Ar­row­smith 1-0 for Reidy, Paul Clarke for Pep­per, Ro­nan Green for Cor­ri­gan.

KILK­ER­LEY: Cil­lian Quigley; James Bellew, Fin­tan Clarke, Niall Mul­hol­land; Rian Hand, Cor­mac Bellew, Shaun McEl­roy; James Fe­gan 0-1, An­drew McGuill; Conal McEneaney, Shane Len­non 0-3 (1f), Sean Hand 0-1, Ciaran Clarke; Tadgh McEneaney 0-4 (2f), Daniel McKe­own. Subs: Ciaran McG­lynn for C McEneaney, Ciaran Murtagh for Mul­hol­land.

REF­EREE: Ai­dan Shevlin

Pic­ture: Ken Fine­gan

Stephen Reidy, Geraldines comes un­der pres­sure from Sean McEl­roy and Ciaran Clarke, Kilk­er­ley.

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