Rath­new sur­vive New­town scare


Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - DANIEL HA­GAN in Ash­ford

RATH­NEW sur­vived a ma­jor scare against Damien Gil­li­gan’s in-form New­town side as last year’s cham­pi­onship run­ners-up kicked their cam­paign off with a four-point vic­tory in Group 1 of the Se­nior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship in front of a big crowd in Ash­ford on Tues­day of last week.

Rath­new scored 1-6 with­out re­ply in the se­cond half of this game as they fought back five points down in­side five min­utes of the half.

Af­ter a strong league cam­paign from New­town, Harry Mur­phy’s side knew what they were up against and from the start this form was ev­i­dent as mid­fielder Mark Fitzsi­mons opened the scor­ing with a point af­ter 15 sec­onds.

The clash be­gan with a quick pace, in typ­i­cal Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship fash­ion.

Both sides were press­ing high, par­tic­u­larly the Rath­new de­fence as New­town’s for­wards crowded the mid­field forc­ing their op­po­nents de­fence fur­ther for­ward, leav­ing Dean Od­lum alone up top.

Sean Gre­gory picked up the ball a lot early on and dashed to­wards goal us­ing his rapid side step­ping.

Ed­die Doyle was pulling the strings early on for Rath­new as he seemed to have been given a free role for his side to try and utilise any gaps left by their op­po­si­tion.

Doyle and Nicky Mer­nagh pointed for their side be­fore New­town were awarded a penalty in the sixth minute.

Rath­new full-back Ross O’Brien took down De­clan Doyle just in­side the box as he at­tempted to charge to­wards goal.

Dean Od­lum placed the ball on the spot and stuck the ball into the bot­tom left cor­ner to give his side a two-point lead.

New­town would have been thrilled with their start against such a heavy­weight as they seemed to have been rel­ish­ing the fight as underdogs.

Robert Greenan was given the job to man-mark the leg­endary Leighton Glynn as Rath­new strug­gled to get their big names into the game, such as Glynn, James Stafford and Ed­die Doyle.

De­spite this Rath­new did pull it back to a one-point deficit as Mer­nagh pointed his se­cond and Glynn scored a free.

Ten min­utes af­ter their goal, New­town net­ted again. This time a cracking fin­ish from Mark Fitzsi­mons into the top left stan­chion, leav­ing Peter Dignam in the Rath­new goal stranded.

Worrying for Harry Mur­phy that his side con­ceded two goals so early in the game, as it be­came clear that they had a dog­fight on their hands.

Shane Mooney added a mag­nif­i­cent score to stretch the lead out to five, and a real shock looked to have been on the cards. Rath­new were re­ally strug­gling to get into the game mid­way through the half as they were making un­nec­es­sary mis­takes in the mid­dle of the park lead­ing to New­town caus­ing havoc on the break with their pacey young for­wards.

Both out­fits were very fired up for the game with rough chal­lenges go­ing in left, right and cen­tre.

The Rath­new con­tin­gent were get­ting frus­trated with the fouls their side were com­mit­ting whereas the New­town fans were ag­grieved by the tack­les be­ing com­mit­ted on their side as ref­eree Noel Kin­sella had a tricky job on his hands calm­ing the game down.

Rath­new were awarded their own spot-kick seven min­utes be­fore the interval as Nicky Mer­nagh at­tempted a slalom like run past Glen Carty but the de­fender pulled him to the floor and Kin­sella pointed to the spot. Leighton Glynn took the kick and slot­ted the ball down the keeper’s left.

Hus­tling and has­sling from both sides con­tin­ued all over the pitch dur­ing the cagey af­fair as both teams had to fight for every break­ing ball.

Within three min­utes of the penalty the scores were level, as Ed­die Doyle and James Stafford floated points over the bar to quickly turn around New­town’s five-point lead, the scores now 2-3 to 1-6.

Stafford was grow­ing into the game and his phys­i­cal prow­ess was com­ing to the fore as his strength in the air was be­com­ing clear for ev­ery­one to see.

New­town showed ter­rific men­tal strength in the clos­ing min­utes of the half to not collapse af­ter Rath­new’s fight­back, as they went into half-time with a three-point ad­van­tage af­ter two frees from Ross Davis and a Neil Martin left-footer.

The sides came back out for half-time and again Rath­new were quite slow off the mark, with New­town find­ing it too easy to get from back to front.

Two more frees from Davis re­stored their five-point lead, but this was the end of New­town’s scor­ing un­til the final minute of the game as Rath­new be­gan their resur­gence.

Rath­new did be­gin the half how­ever with some poor wides and very lit­tle com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the cen­tre of the park, to the frus­tra­tion of their sup­port­ers.

Sub­sti­tute Gra­ham Mer­ri­gan pointed twice to give his side a much-needed lift. Mid­way through the half, Jack Healy had a huge goal chance.

A knock down by James Stafford fell to Healy but his shot was su­perbly saved at point-blank range by Ken Turner.

Stafford was pushed for­ward to win these high balls played in by the likes of Glynn and JT Hay­den and this brought their side suc­cess. Ed­die Doyle and Danny Staunton re­duced the deficit to one as New­town were hang­ing by a thread.

New­town half-back Shane Mooney was clean­ing up a lot of loose balls when Rath­new seemed to have man­u­fac­tured open­ings, but he couldn’t help his side get for­ward them­selves.

Leighton Glynn curled a beau­ti­ful score over the bar to level the game, although Rath­new’s 12 wides proved that they should have been lead­ing by now.

The Rath­new fans were ral­ly­ing their troops as they took the lead for the first time since the fifth minute of the en­counter as Mark Doyle pointed his first of the game and his side’s sixth suc­ces­sive point.

New­town seemed to have been dead and buried be­fore James Stafford fin­ished the game off as he tapped home from close range.

Glynn floated a high ball up to­wards Stafford, who knocked it down, turned but his first ef­fort was saved by the feet of Ken Turner but the Rath­new man was quick­est to re­act to tap the ball in.

In the final mo­ments of the game, Rath­new’s Gra­ham Mer­ri­gan was sent off for strik­ing an op­po­nent off the ball but in the end, this didn’t affect the game as Rath­new sealed a four-point vic­tory.

New­town will take a lot of pos­i­tives out of this game and will cer­tainly cause trou­ble for any side that they’ll face in this year’s cham­pi­onship.

They will face Tinahely next time out whereas Rath­new face a tough test as they come up against ri­vals AGB.

Scor­ers - Rath­new: Leighton Glynn 1-2 (1f); James Stafford 1-1; Ed­die Doyle 0-3 (1f); Nicky Mer­nagh 0-2; Gra­ham Mer­ri­gan 0-2; Mark Doyle 0-2 (1f); Danny Staunton 0-1.

New­town: Ross Davis 0-5 (5f); Mark Fitzsi­mons 1-1; Dean Od­lum 1-0; De­clan Doyle 0-1; Shane Mooney 0-1; Neil Martin 0-1.

James Gre­gan on the ball for Carnew Em­mets against Kil­coole.

Bren­dan McCrea of Carnew takes aim.

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