Dales produce attacking masterclass against Baltinglass
IT has been said and written of Avondale in the recent past that the day they brought the sum of their undoubted talents together on the same pitch, in the same game and on the same day, they would shake up the championship.
Whether that day was Sunday last is debatable but there is no doubt that they displayed on this occasion that they have the capability to compete with the best.
They laid a marker straight from the beginning with Conor Byrne bringing a great save out of Mark Jackson in their first attack. The county net minder saved brilliantly knocking the ball onto an upright and over the bar.
Full-forward Oisin McGraynor was showing well early on and added the second point. Sean O’Brien did have a possible goal opportunity after three minutes for Baltinglass but he pulled a ground shot across goal and wide.
Avondale continued to run hard at the Slaneysiders’ defence and won a penalty after five minutes. Sean McGraynor took the kick and even though Mark Jackson got to the shot, he was unable to prevent the ball getting to the net.
Conor Byrne at wing forward was turning up all over the field and was causing all sorts of problems for Baltinglass with his direct running at pace. He pointed again after eight minutes and it took another three minutes for Baltinglass to register their opening point from a Mark Jackson trademark free on 45.
The score stood at 1-3 to 0-1 at this stage. Avondale were growing further in confidence and continued to keep up the pressure. Ian McDonald and Barry Sheehan were handling a lot of ball in the middle third of the field and the half backs Mark Baker, Eoin Baker and Eugene Dunne were getting forward at every opportunity.
Conor Byrne raced through again and punched over a point. Oisin McGraynor pointed again before Adam McHugh got the second Baltinglass point from a free.
Oisin McGraynor immediately tacked on another Avondale point from a free after 17 minutes to leave them ahead by 1-7 to 0-2 at this stage.
Mark Jackson pointed another Baltinglass free but back came Conor Byrne to slot over another Avondale point.
Peadar Burke fisted over the only Baltinglass point from play of this half. The Dales finished off the final few minutes of the first half in a devastating fashion.
Mark Baker scored another point and with two minutes left in the half Cian O’Hannain got through for goal number two.
Straight from the kick-out, Conor Byrne waltzed his way through the defence and stuck another goal in the net.
The only Baltinglass response was a Johnny Keogh pointed free in the second minute of time added. Avondale led by 3-8 to 0-5 at half time.
Baltinglass had been hit with a tornado and it was going to take some comeback to recover.
Avondale almost scored a fourth goal in the second minute of the second half when Oisin McGraynor fly kicked a ball over the bar. It would probably have been easier to take control of the ball and finish from his hand. However, it was another point ahead.
Johnny Keogh pointed another Balto free, but Ross Ward responded with a converted Avondale free.
Barry Sheehan fisted over another Dales point and 15 minutes had elapsed before the next Baltinglass score – a goal punched home by Jordan Deans.
Baltinglass were battling hard to make some impression but were coming up against a massed Avondale defence where everyone was now a defender. Conor Byrne and Chris Heaslip exchanged points. Mark Baker got another, and Chris Heaslip responded with two for Baltinglass –one from a free.
Mark Jackson pointed a 45 and then Oisin McGraynor crowned off a great personal display by racing through with two minutes left to score his second goal.
Baltinglass finished the game with a goal from a penalty by substitute Stephan Heaslip to bring their final tally to 2-10, a decent score on any other day but not enough on the day your opponents’ score 4-13. Thus ended an extraordinary game with a result few if any could have predicted.
Scorers - Avondale: Oisin McGraynor 2-4, Conor Byrne 1-4, Cian O’Hannain 1-0, Mark Baker 0-3, Ross Ward and Barry Sheehan 0-1 each.
Baltinglass: Mark Jackson 0-3, Chris Heaslip 0-3, Jordan Deans 1-0, Stephan Heaslip 1-0, Johnny Keogh 0-2, Adam McHugh and Peadar Burke 0-1 each.
Oisin McGraynor of Avondale gets away from Tom Burke of Baltinglass.
Baltinglass goalkeeper Mark Jackson is beaten from the spot.
Mark Baker of Avondale keeps his eye on the ball as Paddy Whelan of Baltinglass closes in.