Duffy points the way as Pat’s drive on
O’Brien’s side pip Rathnew
COUNTY champions St. Patrick’s and their neighbours Rathnew fought a close encounter in the Dunne Cup semi-final in Aughrim on Thursday, June 20.
St Pats were on top for a long period in the first half but were unable to make it show on the scoreboard. They got off to a good start when Tommy Kelly came in front to receive a Stephan Duffy free and turned quickly to open the scoring with a point into the town goal.
Duffy himself got their second point a minute later from a free and when Eamon Wolfe got another point after seven minutes Pats led by 0-3 to nil.
They were much sharper at this early stage and attempts by Rathnew to move forward were breaking down and too much ball was going astray.
Phil Murphy pointed from play after nine minutes to get Rathnew off the mark. However, Tommy Kelly responded with another point from play two minutes later to put his side 0-4 to 0-1 ahead.
However, despite having plenty of possession, Pats were not to score again for almost a quarter of an hour. Rathnew gradually came into the game. Eddie Doyle pointed a free after 14 minutes, converted another after 22 minutes and when Phil Murphy got his second point from play a minute later, Rathnew were on level terms at 0-4 apiece despite having far less of the ball.
Tommy Kelly brought the St. Pats scoring drought to an end when he pointed a free with five minutes left in the half. A few minutes prior to this they had lost full-back Niall Donnelly with a leg injury. He was replaced by Ciaran Doyle with Shane Morley moving to full-back. However, full-forward Nicky Mernagh levelled matters again when he received a pass from Sam O’Dowd and popped over a point. The score stood at 0-5 apiece at the break.
Theo Smyth put Rathnew into the lead for the first time when he pointed a ‘45’ three minutes into the second half. Pats’ centre forward Donal Fitzgerald responded with an equaliser in the sixth minute.
Just as they had done in the first half, St. Pats shut down their scoring department for more than a quarter of an hour. Not that Rathnew were that much better. Eddie Doyle put them back into the lead with a pointed free after eight minutes.
Despite an abundance of possession, they too were not to score for another 13 minutes when fullback Ross O’Brien got forward to put them two points ahead.
James Stafford and Sam O’Dowd were enjoying a much better second half but, like Pats in the first half, Rathnew were unable to make it show on the scoreboard.
In fact, O’Brien’s point was to prove to be their last score as they were wide with a few scoring chances. Dean Healy, who was quiet enough for much of the game, began to get on more ball and Stephan Duffy brought the second St. Pats long barren spell without a score to an end when he reduced the Rathnew lead to the minimum with a point after 22 minutes. Two minutes later Dean Healy brought the sides level again at 0-8 apiece. At this stage we were faced with the probability of two periods of extra time at the end to decide matters.
However, Stephen Duffy pointed a free with two minutes of normal time left to put St. Pats back into the lead again.
In the remaining six minutes of play, Rathnew were unable to break the St. Pats defence and almost fell further behind when Tommy Kelly was short with a scorable free. St. Pats held on for victory and now meet Baltinglass in the Dunne Cup final.
Scorers - St. Pats: Tommy Kelly 0-3, Stephan Duffy 0-3, Eamon Wolfe 0-1, Donal Fitzgerald 0-1, Dean Healy 0-1.
Rathnew: Eddie Doyle 0-3, Phil Murphy 0-2, Nicky Mernagh 0-1, Theo Smith 0-1, Ross O’Brien 0-1,
Stratford-Grangecon under-9 footballers ready for battle in Ballinakill.