Pat’s on the prowl

O’Brien’s men dump Bless­ing­ton out of cham­pi­onship

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE at Joule Park Aughrim

A dom­i­nant per­for­mance from St Pat’s brought an end to Bless­ing­ton’s Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship cam­paign for 2018 when the sides met in Joule Park Aughrim on Sun­day last.

Last year’s beaten fi­nal­ists have en­dured a very dis­ap­point­ing cam­paign and needed a vic­tory against Casey O’Brien’s men to sur­vive while at the same time con­demn Balt­in­glass to an early exit. How­ever, a Bless­ing­ton win never looked on the cards af­ter they were ripped apart at the back for three goals in­side the first 20 min­utes and it’s Balt­in­glass who progress to the quar­ter-fi­nals at the ex­pense of Paddy O’Con­nor’s side.

Casey O’Brien will be de­lighted with the re­sult which pro­pels them to the semi-fi­nals of this year’s cham­pi­onship. A dropped point against AGB is the only slight neg­a­tive they will take from the group stages and the Wick­low town men are look­ing like a se­ri­ous force this year with lead­ers all over the field from the full-back line to corner-for­ward Tommy Kelly and a healthy bench to call upon when re­quired.

On the other hand, Casey O’Brien will likely be con­cerned at lulls in the per­for­mances of key men dur­ing this clash with Bless­ing­ton but as a unit they are func­tion­ing solidly and should be there or there­abouts come county fi­nal day go­ing on cur­rent form.

It was all Pat’s early on. They had amassed three wides be­fore they romped through the Bless­ing­ton rear­guard where Tommy Kelly got on the end of a flow­ing move to fist home af­ter five for the open­ing score of the game.

A beau­ti­ful ball from John Crowe into space pro­vided Stephen Duffy with all the room he needed to lash home past Peter Man­ning four min­utes later be­fore Pa­trick O’Con­nor dropped over a beauty off his left with Shane Mur­ley close by.

The game hadn’t reached the end of the first quar­ter when Paddy O’Con­nor sent Mikey O’Con­nor into the fray. Anto McLough­lin pointed the first of his five-point tally shortly af­ter­wards, this one from a free.

Ciaran Doyle had a fine game for Pat’s and he flashed over the first of three points af­ter Dean Healy had made a fine mark at mid­field.

Pat’s had too much power and pace for Bless­ing­ton in this game and when John Crowe fired home a screamer to make it 3-1 to 0-2 the mem­o­ries of last year’s county fi­nal against Rath­new must have come flood­ing back for the west men.

Anto McLough­lin de­cided to stop the rot and he fired over four su­perb points (two frees) and this along with a Cur­tis Ger­aghty white flag sent Bless­ing­ton in at the break with things look­ing slightly less bleak at 3-2 to 0-7.

Stephen Duffy dropped over a bomb from about 55 yards out to get the sec­ond half scor­ing un­der­way sec­onds af­ter reg­is­ter­ing an early wide.

Two Bless­ing­ton wides were fol­lowed by an­other Ciaran Doyle point af­ter ex­cel­lent work from Shane Mur­ley all the way up from full-back and then Bless­ing­ton squan­dered a golden chance of a goal when Cur­tis Ger­aghty hand passed a ball across the face of the goal, but the ball crossed the line with­out Pa­trick O’Con­nor get­ting a hand to it.

A goal here would have made it 3-4 to 1-7. Alas, for Bless­ing­ton the chance was gone.

Tommy Kelly and Kevin Han­lon swapped scores be­fore sub­sti­tute Ciaran McGet­ti­gan showed how valu­able he can be when he split the posts af­ter good work from Paudge McWal­ter.

A Stephen Bo­han free and Cur­tis Ger­aghty from play left five be­tween the teams with 56 min­utes gone but Pat’s would fin­ish strongly with scores from Stephen Duffy (two, one free) and a wicked score from the very im­pres­sive John Crowe while Mikey O’Con­nor com­pleted the scor­ing for Bless­ing­ton who were faced with that long jour­ney home with many more ques­tions than answers to con­sider.

Pat’s power on. They have qual­ity all over the field. Padraig Hig­gins, Shane Mur­ley, and Wayne Doyle make up a ca­pa­ble full-back line. Conor Ffrench was ef­fec­tive. Dean Healy and John Crowe dom­i­nated while a busy half-for­ward line gave Pat’s plenty of at­tack­ing threat.

Stephen Duffy’s roam­ing li­cense was put to good use for the most part while any side with Paul Earls and Tommy Kelly among their ranks will al­ways be guar­an­teed a hand­ful of scores.

Scor­ers – St Pa­trick’s: Stephen Duffy 1-3 (1f), Tommy Kelly 1-1, Ciaran Doyle 0-3, John Crowe 1-1, Ciaran McGet­ti­gan 0-1.

Bless­ing­ton: Anto McLough­lin 0-5 (3f), Mikey O’Con­nor 0-2 (1f), Pa­trick O’Con­nor 0-1, Kevin Han­lon 0-1, Stephen Bo­han 0-1, Cur­tis Ger­aghty 0-1.

St Pa­trick’s: Colm Byrne; Padraig Hig­gins, Shane Mur­ley, Wayne Doyle; Si­mon Bouch­ier, Conor Ffrench, Pa­trick O’Keane; Dean Healy, John Crowe; Ciaran Doyle, Pa­trick McWal­ter, Jack Dunne; Paul Earls, Stephen Duffy, Tommy Kelly. Subs: Ciaran McGet­ti­gan for J Dunne (48), Paul O’Brien for C Doyle (58), Jor­dan Pet­ti­grew for P Earls, Aidan Dunne for S Bouch­ier (62), James Ka­vanagh for T Kelly (64), Johnny De­lahunt for S Duffy (64), .

Bless­ing­ton: Peter Man­ning; Barry Mur­phy, Stephen Bo­han, Wayne Cal­laghan; Caolan McGor­man, Kevin Han­lon, Bryan Car­roll; David Booth­man, Paul McLough­lin; Eoin Keogh, Pa­trick O’Con­nor, Mick McLough­lin; Cur­tis Ger­aghty, Anto McLough­lin, Jack Cot­ter. Subs: Mikey O’Con­nor for Bryan Car­roll (12), Jack Gil­li­gan for C McGor­man (24), Aaron Cur­ran for M McLough­lin (H/T), Bryan Car­roll for E Keogh (41), Michael Nu­gent for W Cal­laghan (inj, 46), Eoin Keogh for M Nu­gent (inj, 56).

Ref­eree: John Keenan (Aughrim)

Bless­ing­ton’s Anto McLough­lin fires off this shot to­wards the St pat’s posts as Paudge McWal­ter moves to block. Pho­tos: Joe Byrne.

Ble­sis­ng­ton’s Mick McLough­lin comes un­der pres­sure from John Crowe of St Pat’s in Joule Park Aughrim.

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