Healy the hero as AGB earn draw with Blessington
BLESSINGTON AGB 2-12 1-15
BLESSINGTON and AGB played out a thrilling draw at the county grounds last Sunday evening as both teams kept their unbeaten records in this year’s championship. Philip Healy clipped an equalising point from in front of the posts as the game entered injury time for the Arklow men.
The south Wicklow men started like a train with Chris O’Brien pointing after Phil Healy had located him with a diagonal cross-field pass. Moments later the roles were reversed, and O’Brien fed Healy whose thunderbolt of a shot cannoned off the underside of Stephen Kitt’s bar and over the line.
Blessington responded superbly. Anto McLoughlin had a goal bound effort saved by keeper Mervyn Travers, however Curtis Geraghty was on hand to bundle the rebound home. O’Brien was always an outlet for Arklow and he had his second point soon after. Stephen Hurley extended the lead from a long distance free after ten minutes.
McLoughlin began to dominate proceedings from here on out. First, he earned a free that Mikey O’Connor converted, then opened his own account as he led the defence a merry dance. O’Brien responded after Hurley had done the donkey work before McLoughlin tied the scores up with two more.
O’Connor gave Blessington the lead after McLoughlin was fouled again and O’Connor scored from play soon after.
AGB lost the influential Hurley on a black card at this stage which required O’Brien - who was causing so much hassle at full-forward - to move to midfield.
However, O’Brien proved that being further out from goal was no issue to him with a morale boosting score from 50 yards. McLoughlin closed out the first half scoring with his fourth point to leave the men from the west two clear at the break.
Within seconds of the restart McLoughlin had added to his tally with Blessington’s second goal. He firstly beat his own man to the ball before linking with Curtis Geraghty and O’Connor whose pinpoint fisted pass across goal saw McLoughlin palm home.
Healy pointed a free for Arklow but when Eoin Keogh and McLoughlin again added scores it looked like last year’s beaten finalists were going to pull away.
Credit to Arklow though, they showed a tenacity and determination to get back in the contest and kicked five of the next six scores through Healy, Peter Hempenstall and especially Cormac O’Shea who came to the fore with a trio of exquisite points from the centre forward position. With ten minutes to go McLoughlin and O’Shea exchanged points and the lead was three.
It was amazingly to be Blessington’s last score as AGB finished the stronger. J.P. Hurley pointed a 50-yarder after collecting a short free from Darragh Fitzgerald, O’Shea fed Healy inside who rounded the keeper but off balance could only flash his effort high through the uprights before, with nerves of steel, Healy stepped up and slotted the last-second free after Cathal Kelleher had been fouled.
A fair result to a pulsating game. Cormac O’Shea and Chris O’Brien were superb for the Arklow men, for Blessington, Anto McLoughlin was outstanding, scoring 1-6 and being involved for another 1-4, it was a surprise that Arklow did not put veteran Ciaran Hyland back on him to try curb his influence.
Blessington: Stephen Kitt; Barry Murphy, Stephen Bohan, Caolan McGorman; Kevin Hanlon, Wayne Callaghan, Kevin John Rogers; Gavin Murray, Eoin Keogh (0-1); Bryan Carroll, Patrick O’Connor (0-1), Jack Cotter; Curtis Geraghty (1-0), Anthony McLoughlin (1-6), MiikeyO’Connor (0-4).
AGB: Mervyn Travers; Karl Kirwan, James Tyrrell, Tom Maher; Darragh Fitzgerald, Ciaran Hyland, Andrew Maher; J.P. Hurley (0-1), Stephen Hurley (0-1); Peter Hempenstall (0-1), Cormac O’Shea (0-5), Tiernan McBride; Philip Healy (1-4), Chris O’Brien (0-3), Cathal Kelleher. Subs: Ciaran O’Shea, Cormac Hyland, Cal Kelly.
Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely)