Éire Óg and Baltinglass to meet again after cracker!
THERE’S plenty more to come from Éire Óg Greystones according to their manager Alan Costello who was in ebullient form in the aftermath of his side’s holding of defending champions Baltinglass in their Renault SFC quarter-final in Joule Park, Aughrim, last Saturday evening.
The Mayo native had watched his side dominate proceedings early on in the game and take a 2-06 to 0-05 lead into the break despite having lost full-forward Billy Norman to a straight red card for an incident with Baltinglass goalkeeper Mark Jackson.
The beefy Éire Óg attacker had been causing all sorts of panic and headaches on the edge of the square and had 1-01 to his credit and had helped create one or two more and looked very likely to torment the Baltinglass rearguard had he remained on the field.
Alas, for Éire Óg Greystones, his dismissal means we will never know how he might have bossed matters up front but his side’s reaction and their ability to adapt is probably one of the most pleasing aspects for manager Costello.
“It was one factor in the game,” said Costello, in relation to Norman’s dismissal. “Billy’s contribution up to that point had been very good, very effective. He had scored 1-01 and had set up other scores and he made a mistake and the man who never made a mistake never made anything. He held his hands up in the dressing room and the lads pushed on.
“With 14 players for so long I was very happy that they kept going and with a little bit more cuteness at the end we could have won it. I think it would be unfair on Billy to say he was the main factor in the draw but it (his dismissal) meant we had to expend a lot of energy and, ultimately, we were up for that game,” he added.
It was with an overall feeling of relief that Paul Garrigan reflected on the game. At half-time, the Baltinglass manager would have taken hand and all for a draw and then at the end with his charges on top in most sectors a victory was looking likely while at the very death, Darren Hayden, had he converted that very difficult free, could have snatched victory for the Éire Óg men.
“We had a bad start and we were way on top at the end and could have snook it but it’s probably more relief than anything to be honest,” said the Meath native. “We didn’t play in the first half and then we found ourselves chasing the game and this is a very different Baltinglass team than last year. I don’t remember a lot of Baltinglass teams who would have come back from seven points down in recent times,” he added.
The turning point for him was Norman’s sending off.
“Billy was causing trouble so it (his dismissal) probably was the turning point but we didn’t score for 15 minutes after he was sent off,” he said.
A fairly even start with points from Sean Lawless for Éire Óg and Adam McHugh and Chris Heaslip for Baltinglass was followed by the dramatic arrival of Billy Norman on to the scoresheet.
A high ball from Lawless was gathered by the Greystones RFC second rower and he plucked it from the sky like a floating leaf and buried it in the back of Mark Jackson’s net.
Jackson ambled up the field shortly afterwards to slot a 45 in his own inimical way before that high ball came screaming down on the Baltinglass square again and was gathered by the shovel-like hands of Norman who passed to Daniel Keane who fired over, 1-02 to 0-03 for the men of Éire Óg and the feeling of a real upset on the cards around Joule Park, Aughrim.
Points from Keane and Norman, with the fist, and Craig Smullen painted an even brighter picture for Éire Óg as they led by 1-05 to 0-03 after 14 minutes and then Mark Jackson was on the ground outside of his goals and Billy Norman was being summoned by referee Garreth Whelan from Kiltegan and the red card was flashed. Game changer.
Dan Kelly pointed a free but Éire Óg resumed control of the game against a very flat Baltinglass. A point from Danny Woods was followed by a sweet move involving Leon Browne to Woods to the superbly energetic Darren Hayden who picked out Daniel Keane and Jackson was picking the ball out of the back of his net for a second time, 2-06 to 0-05, at the break.
Baltinglass emerged a more focus outfit. Jackon pointed a free and Ian Sheerin blazed a goal chance wide.
Sean O’Brien pointed, seven gone. And then the incidents start to happen.
Mikey English goes on a black card. Conor Keogh comes in and has a very decent game. John McGrath and Adam McHugh add points for the defending champions but they lose Billy Cullen to a black card with Tommy Murphy taking his place.
Two points from Darren Hayden from frees arrive either side of a Jackson 45 and it’s 2-8 to 0-10. Can Éire Óg keep the work and energy levels up?
Another Jackson 45, two points from Dan Kelly and a gem from Adam McHugh leaves the sides level and Darren Hayden is offered one last chance to snatch victory with a free into the wind just inside the Baltinglass 45. He is unsuccessful and these two footballing sides will have to go again.
Both managers are obviously really looking forward to the replay with Alan Costello adamant that there’s more to come from his soldiers.
“We were underdogs going into that game,” said the Éire Óg boss, “while Baltinglass have a huge tradition at Senior level. We, comparatively, are still finding our feet at Senior but we have a really honest group of players and I am quite proud of that”.
The Greystones boss, while pleased overall with the performance of referee Garreth Whelan, said that, in his opinion, there were “cynical” and “reckless” fouls and that at least one black card could have been a red.
“Baltinglass are a proud footballing team and I was disappointed with the cynical fouling near the end. There were one or two reckless tackles and a black card could have been red. Baltinglass have always been a football team in my eyes and on another day that might not go unpunished. But the referee did a good job overall,” he added.
Paul Garrigan said that he was impressed by his substitutes on the day and that Baltinglass are still very much in the championship and he expects a big battle the next day with Éire Óg likely to welcome Enda King back to their starting 15 for what he says is an very good” and “organised” Éire Óg outfit. The mouth waters! Scorers - Éire Óg Greystones: Daniel Keane 1-02, Billy Norman 1-01, Darren Hayden 0-02 (2f), Danny Woods 0-01, Sean Lawless 0-01, Craig Smullen 0-01.
Baltinglass: Mark Jackson 0-04 (2f, 2 45), Daniel Kelly 0-04 (2f), Adam McHugh 0-03 (2f), Chris Heaslip 0-01, Sean O’Brien 0-01, John McGrath 0-01.
Éire Óg Greystones: Lorcan Treanor; Liam Maguire, Dominic O’Brien, Peter Keane; Darren Hayden, Stephen Kelly, Leon Browne; Pearse Kelly, Justin O’Brien; Jamie McDonald, Danny Woods, Daniel Keane; Sean Lawless, Billy Norman, Craig Smullen. Subs: Fintan O’Shea for J McDonald, Dominic O’Reilly for J O’Brien, James Cranley, Andrew Walsh.
Baltinglass: Mark Jackson; Alan Nolan, John Murray, Billy Cullen; Pat Burke, Kevin Murphy, Stephen Heaslip; Mikey English, Jason Kennedy; John McGrath, Daniel Kelly, Chris Heaslip; Henry Sinnott, Sean O’Brien, Adam McHugh. Subs: Ian Sheerin for H Sinnott, Peadar Burke for J Murray, Tom Burke for S Heaslip, Conor Keogh for M English (BC), Tommy Murphhy for B Cullen (BC).
Referee: Garreth Whelan (Kiltegan)
Baltinglass’s Sean O’Brien is closed down by Éire Óg’s Dominic O’Brien.
Éire Óg’s Billy Norman gets his marching orders from Garreth Whelan.
Christopher Heaslip and Liam Maguire race for the ball in Aughrim.