Éire Óg and Baltinglass to meet again af­ter cracker!

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - At Joule Park, Aughrim

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.

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