Counsel crushed by late goal
Rochfortbridge rule as Barrowsiders make early exit
GOOD COUNSEL’S quest for a place in the knockout stages of the Top Oil Leinster Post-Primary Schools Senior football ‘A’ championship ended in bitter disappointment in Ratheniska, Co. Laois, on Friday when a 55th-minute goal from St. Joseph’s (Rochfortbridge) swung the outcome firmly in favour of the midlanders.
This was a must-win game for both schools, and only one was destined to survive and stay in contention for the Brother Bosco Cup.
A draw would have been sufficient for Counsel, given that they had lost to Moate Community School by three points (2-6 to 1-6) whereas St. Joseph’s had failed by six (2-13 to 1-10) against their Westmeath rivals in round one.
And it looked like the Barrowsiders might get that share of the spoils that would have done the trick as they entered the closing stages just one point in arrears after a tense, scoreless ten-minute spell (1-6 to 1-5).
However, they had no luck whatsoever for the second Joseph’s goal that ended their interest, because it arrived after the ball fell into the arms of a grateful Jack Donoghue after a fine block by a Counsel defender.
It could have gone anywhere, but the ricochet was very favourable to the re-introduced attacker, and he popped a pass inside for substitute David Hickey who finished to the net with five and a half minutes to go (2-6 to 1-5).
Time was running out fast for Counsel to save their season, and they didn’t help their cause when Robert Cogley and Adam Sinnott kicked their fifth and sixth wides respectively from frees.
Offaly Minor Aaron Kelleghan, a promising member of a wellknown football family from over the border in Rhode, had been excellent all afternoon, and he fisted an insurance point from a David Hickey pass after Counsel pushed forward and were left exposed at the back.
There was one last chance when Jack Kehoe exchanged passes with Jamie Sheehan before drawing a fine save out of Seán Martin, and the final whistle followed seconds later.
In truth, there wasn’t a lot expected from the losing team based on their results coming up through the Juvenile and Junior grades. And while they didn’t advance, they did battle hard in both encounters although a lot of handling errors and repeated running into the tackle hampered their chances of advancing on this occasion.
The thick carpet of grass on the pitch didn’t help either side, but from the off it was clear that Aaron Kellaghan and his corner-forward colleagues, Eoghan Ahern and Jack Torpey, were very dangerous as a unit.
Eoin Ryan – pushed up from wing-back to centre-forward since the Moate game – did give Counsel a bright start with a point after 45 seconds, but the marking was non-existent when St. Joseph’s struck for a morale-boosting goal in the third minute.
Liam Gannon found Jack Torpey in the left corner, and he was able to bear down on Kyle Martin’s goal unchallenged before directing his shot to the net via the netminder’s body.
The Counsel defence looked vulnerable until Eoin Ryan was moved back to provide extra cover, and Martin had to be at his best to keep out a first-time Aaron Kelleghan drive off the ground from a Torpey pass in the sixth minute.
Eoghan Ahern then supplied Kelleghan for his opening point before the full-forward latched on to a long delivery and made it 1-2 to 0-1 in the ninth minute.
Kellaghan missed a handy free but then converted his next attempt, with Counsel hitting back at the end of the first quarter with a fine solo point from Cathal Doyle.
Kyle Martin kept out another effort on goal, this time from Shane Fleming, and the scoring dried up as the game moved towards half-time.
Kelleghan’s accurate left boot put St. Joseph’s clear by 1-4 to 0-2 in the 20th minute, and Adam Sinnott responded from a free after a foul on A.J. Redmond to leave Counsel trailing by four at the break.
They did create one half-chance for a goal seconds before the interval, but a shot across the square by recent arrival Robert Cogley was stopped and cleared by a defender.
Mark Kehoe was introduced to partner clubmate Emmet Cullen at midfield, and the latter did his best to bring the fight to St. Joseph’s after the break.
Pádraig Dempsey also prospered from his move to right half-back, because it was his long punt from that position in the 37th minute that led to their goal.
It was caught inside the defensive cover by Cathal Doyle, and he finished coolly to leave St. Joseph’s on the back foot.
Indeed, Dempsey won the kick-out that followed and soloed forward for an inspiring equalising point, and now we had a really tight game on our hands.
Counsel substitute Dylan Whelan was unfortunate not to be awarded a free in the seconds before Aaron Kelleghan restored the St. Joseph’s lead under a lot of pressure in the 39th minute (1-5 to 1-4).
Jack Torpey then gave the Luke Dempsey-coached midlanders a two-point cushion, but Counsel reduced it to one when a Jack Kehoe handpass led to a longrange score from Whelan at the end of the third quarter.
Mentors Leigh O’Brien, John Tubritt and Pádraig Kehoe were longing for a levelling point at that stage because, in such a low-scoring game, chances are that it would have been enough to advance.
Wides from Pádraig Dempsey and Emmet Cullen (free) were the best their side could muster though, prior to that game-clinching second Joseph’s goal, and there was to be no way back from that crushing blow.
Good Counsel: Kyle Martin (Rathnure); Pádraig Bailey (Geraldine O’Hanrahans), Tommy Ryan (Gusserane, capt.), Páraic Wickham (Adamstown); Eoin Dunne-Codd (Gusserane), Jack Kehoe (Horeswood), Darragh Kent (Horeswood); Emmet Cullen (Gusserane), Pádraig Dempsey (Mullinavat, 0-1); Rory O’Connor (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Eoin Ryan (Gusserane, 0-1), A.J. Redmond (Rathnure); Cathal Doyle (Taghmon-Camross, 1-1), Seán O’Connor (Rathnure), Adam Sinnott (Taghmon-Camross, 0-1 free). Subs. - Robert Cogley (Bannow-Ballymitty) for R. O’Connor (28), Mark Kehoe (Gusserane) for Kent (HT), Dylan Whelan (Fethard, 0-1) for Dunne-Codd (37), Jamie Sheehan (Gusserane) for Redmond (37), Seán Cosgrave (Graiguenamanagh) for S. O’Connor (57).
St. Joseph’s: Seán Martin; Billy Arthur, Ciarán Daly, Liam Waldron; Liam Moran, Micheál McCormack, Josh Gahan; Niall Smullen, Gavin Flood; Shane Fleming, Jack Donoghue, Liam Gannon; Eoghan Ahern, Aaron Kelleghan (0-6, 1 free), Jack Torpey (1-1). Subs. - David Hickey (1-0) for Donoghue (41), Donoghue for Flood, inj. (46), Brandon Kelly for Torpey (54).
Referee: Pat Moran (Laois).