First blood to Pat’s
Dress rehearsal for championship goes O’Brien’s way
ST PATRICK’S BLESSINGTON 1-13 2-8
THE 2018 Championships may have been launched in Aughrim almost two weeks ago but in many ways the beaten Senior football finalists over the past two years, St Patricks and Blessington, played the first real game of championship intensity this year when they battled out the 2018 Dunne Cup Final played at Aughrim on Wednesday evening.
A stronger second half display from the capital town ensured that they came out on top by two points in a keenly contested decider.
St Patricks lined out without Paudge McWalter who was otherwise engaged. Likewise the Westerners were short a couple of players who were called out on fire service duties.
Pats began strongly and dominated play over the first ten minutes.
Tommy Kelly put them ahead from a free after four minutes but despite their monopoly of possession in these early stages, they were not to score again until ten minutes later, again from a Tommy Kelly free.
Slowly Blessington came into the game with centre back Paul McLoughlin and midfielder Gavin Murray driving their side forward. Centre forward Anthony McLoughlin picked up his first pass on the 13 metre line, turned and beat Ian Murphy with a ground shot to his right.
This was Blessington’s first score after nine minutes. McLoughlin followed up with a great point from the sideline, while Tommy Kelly responded with another pointed free.
The Blessington centre forward came back again with a point- ed free to leave the Westerner side ahead by 1-2 to 0-2 after 18 minutes.
Blessington were finding their feet now and were awarded a penalty after 20 minutes.
This time Ian Murphy in the St Pats goal came out on top when he chose the right way and saved Anthony McLoughlin’s shot at the post. He followed up by saving McLoughlin’s follow up shot from the rebound. The centre forward pointed another free but Tommy Kelly responded with a point from play.
At this stage, Kelly and McLoughlin were the only players to score for their respective sides.
Blessington’s Mikey O’Connor and St Pats Paul O’Brien exchanged points to leave Blessington ahead by 1-4 to 0-4 at the break.
St Pats restarted in a determined fashion and had scores level by five minutes with points from Stephen Duffy (2) and Ciaran McGettigan.
Duffy had moved outfield from full-forward and had a huge influence on the second half with his distribution and use of the early ball into Tommy Kelly. When centre back Conor Ffrench burst through the centre of the Blessington defence and scored a great solo goal after nine minutes he put Pats back ahead and it was now ‘game on’.
Mikey O’Connor pointed for Blessington but Duffy and Kelly added to Pats total.
McLoughlin pointed another free but Duffy came back again with a pointed free of his own. Kelly added another and at this stage Pats led by 1-11 to 1-7.
Anthony McLoughlin, who scored a total of 2-5 for his side and made a huge contribution to the Blessington cause, then put the cat among the pigeons when he fisted home his side’s second goal to leave the minimum between the sides.
The last ten minutes were very keenly contested as both sides battled for victory.
Tommy Kelly again pointed but Mikey O’Connor pointed a free to leave the bare minimum between the sides with two minutes left on the clock, Paul O’Brien secured the insurance point for the Wicklow Town side in the second minute of added time.
After the game, the Dunne Cup was presented by County Chairman Martin Fitzgerald to the captain of the victorious St Patricks team, Dean Healy.
Scorers – St Patricks: Tommy Kelly 0-6, Stephen Duffy 0-4, Conor Ffrench 1-0, Paul O’Brien 0-2, Ciaran McGettigan 0-1.
Blessington: Anthony McLaughlin 2-5, Mikey O’Connor 0-3.
Ian Murphy; Padraig Higgins, Shane Morley, Wayne Doyle; Simon Bouchier, Conor Ffrench, John Crowe; Dean Healy, Shane Doyle; Ciaran Doyle, Paul O’Brien, Johnny Delahunt; Jordan Pettigrew, Stephen Duffy, Tommy Kelly. Subs: Ciaran McGettigan, Rory Marron, Ronan Murray.
Peter Manning; Barry Murphy, Wayne Callaghan, Stephen Bohan; Aaron Curran, Paul McLoughlin, Jack Gilligan; Gavin Murray, Kevin John Rodgers; Jack Cotter, Anthony McLoughlin, Kevin Hanlon; Dean Siney, Curtis Geraghty, Mikey O’Connor. Subs: Patrick O’Connor, Martin Shanahan, Owen Keogh, Caolin McGorman.
Ciaran Fleming (Balt- inglass).
County Chairman Martin Fitzgerald presents the Dunne Cup to St Patrick’s captain Dean Healy.
John Crowe escapes the attentions of Blessington’s Jack Cotter.