O’Neill on fire as Village lads power to victory
RATHNEW showed that there is no shortage of talent coming through their ranks with a dominant display to defeat Blessington in the Under-13 ‘A’ plate final at Ballinakill last Wednesday evening.
Michael Óg O’Neill, son of the great Glenealy hurler Michael Anthony O’Neill, helped himself to 7-3 as he put in one of the great individual performances at any age group in any grade. This was no one man performance however, Rathnew had stars all over the pitch with Cole Byrne, Sam Healy and Charlie Mernagh all having fine games.
With Byrne and Healy dominating around the middle, Rathnew got on top quickly. William Moorehouse got their first point from an acute angle after a mazy run.
O’Neill struck for his first goal shortly after. Byrne launched a ball into the square, Andrew Lynch cleverly palmed down to O’Neill who drove past Blessington keeper Padraic Quinn.
If his first goal was well executed, his second showed great determination and fight as he managed to scrap a messy ball across the line despite the best efforts of the defence.
He completed his hat-trick on 15 minutes as he pounced on a fumbled ball to toe-poke home. This left Rathnew 3-5 to the good.
Jack Hardy got Blessington’s first score from a difficult angle, however the Village men were displaying a passion that is expected of that great club.
Further first half goals followed from Sam Healy and a cracking drilled finish from Jamie Moorehouse-Hayden.
The second period saw Blessington come out fighting with the impressive Thomas Walsh and Dylan Friel combining to free up Brian Richardson who unleashed a rasper to the Rathnew net. Friel pointed soon after.
Blessington were throwing everything at Rathnew with tenacious blocking and tackling keeping the westerners out. Charlie Mernagh in the Rathnew goal produced four tremendous saves to keep the fightback at bay.
After this onslaught, Rathnew restored normal service with Byrne and Healy in midfield getting on top again. A run of three Village points followed before O’Neill ran riot again, scoring 3-2 in the space of five minutes to finish the game as a contest.
He turned provider then, setting up goalkeeper turned corner-forward Mernagh to rattle off the final two goals of the contest.
Although well beaten, Blessington battled till the end, and in Richardson, Adam Smith and Thomas Walsh have some fine footballers.
Rathnew as a team were exceptional on the night all over the park, but in O’Neill they have a player to be watched over the coming years, with Cole Byrne and Sam Healy excellent also.
Scorers – Rathnew: Michael Óg O’Neill 7-3, Cole Byrne 1-3, Charlie Mernagh 2-0, Callum Clark 1-1, Sam Healy 1-0, Jamie Moorehouse-Hayden 1-0, Adam Doyle 0-1, William Moorehouse 0-1, Michael Cash 0-1, Lennon McGettigan 0-1
Blessington: Brian Richardson 1-1, Finn Behan 0-2, Adam Smyth 0-2, Dylan Friel 0-1, Jack Hardy 0-1.
Rathnew: Darragh Leacy; Sam Smith, Jake O’Reilly; Emmet Ronan, Callum Clark, Adam Doyle; Cole Byrne, Sam Healy; Andrew Lynch, William Moorehouse, Michael Cash; Michael Óg O’Neill, Charlie Mernagh. Subs: Jamie Moorehouse Hayden, Brandon Batton, Josh Merrigan, TJ Kennedy, Lennon McGettigan, Charlie Brennan.
Blessington: Padraic Quinn; Sean Ellis, Finn Behan; Adam Smyth, Jack McManus, Dylan Friel; Jack Hardy, Oliver Woods; Brian Richardson, Oscar Higgins, Cormac O’Loughlin; Jack Byrne, Tristan Will Whelan. Subs: Aaron Gilligan, Oisin O’Neill, Thomas Walsh
Referee: Gerry Corbett
The victorious Rathnew under-13 team who defeated a brave Blessington side in the plate final.
Coiste na nÓg chairman Pat Dunne presents Rathnew captain Charlie Mernagh with the trophy after the plate final in Ballinakill.
Rathnew’s Sam Healy collects the Wicklow People sponsored Man of the Match award from Pat Dunne.