O’Neill on fire as Vil­lage lads power to vic­tory

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - ERIC MELIA at Bal­li­nakill

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.

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