Cotter cracker seals sweet Blesso win!
WHEN Daniel Kelly scored the 12th Baltinglass point after 18 minutes in the second half of this keenly contested Senior football championship game at Aughrim on Saturday last, he put the Slaneysiders ahead by 0-12 to 0-7 as the contest approached the final ten minutes.
Having run into an ambush in their opening game, Baltinglass badly wanted a win here and looked to be on their way to their first championship points.
But the Lakesiders came fighting back with a spirited rally, scoring a goal and five points in seven minutes to leave Blessington leading by 1-12 to 0-12 with five minutes still to go on the clock.
There was no further score in those final minutes plus three minutes of added time but there was no shortage of drama and excitement as Baltinglass fought to save the game. To add to their woes, they lost John McGrath to a red card in the final minutes as exchanges reached fever pitch. However, the momentum was with Blessington and they missed a couple of chances to extend their lead.
The opening half was contested at a brisk pace with play moving quickly from either end. Blessington were ahead by two points after six minutes with the scores coming from Mikey O’Connor and Kevin Hanlon.
The Blessington goalkeeper Stephen Kitt had a fine save from an Adam McHugh goal effort, deflecting the ball out for a 45. Mark Jackson opened the Slaneysiders’ account from the 45 and Daniel Kelly levelled the game at 0-2 each after 11 minutes.
Blessington wasted a number of good scoring opportunities before Jordan Nolan put them back into the lead after fourteen minutes. Baltinglass moved into a purple patch and four points in as many minutes from Kevin Murphy, John McGrath, Daniel Kelly and Johnny Keogh left the Slaneysiders ahead by double scores at 0-6 to 0-3 with 20 minutes played.
Mikey O’Connor pulled a point back, but the momentum was with Baltinglass at this stage and Pat Burke restored the three-point lead with another point. Stephen Carroll responded again with a point from a 45 but Adam McHugh had the final point of the half just before the break. Blessington full-forward Curtis Geraghty had two goal efforts brilliantly saved by Mark Jackson to leave the halftime score at 0-8 to 0-5 in favour of Baltinglass.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Peadar Burke struck the post with a goal effort as Baltinglass sought to extend their lead. Adam McHugh pointed but a Mikey O’Connor free cancelled out this score. Mark Jackson pointed a long range free after eight minutes, but Jordan Nolan came back with a Blessington point four minutes later.
However, Baltinglass were playing well now and were beginning to look the likely winners. Johnny Keogh pushed the lead to four points and with 12 minutes to go Daniel Kelly popped over a fine left-footed point to leave Baltinglass five points ahead and looking set for victory. However, we all reckoned without the fighting spirit of this Blessington side. Paul and Anthony McLoughlin and Mikey O’Connor seemed to go up a gear and Blessington came roaring back. Anthony pointed, Mikey added another, Anthony pointed again, and Paul reduced the lead to the minimum.
The Lakesiders were flying now and Baltinglass looked to be in trouble. Patrick O’Connor brought the sides level with seven minutes left.
The winning score came almost straight from the kick out. Mikey O’Connor gained possession in front of goal and placed a pass in front of the in-running half-back Jack Cotter. As Mark Jackson advanced to challenge Cotter, the quick-thinking Blessington man did not take possession of the ball but instead knocked it over the head of the advancing Jackson to score the winning goal. We had another eight minutes of excitement but no further scores as Blessington ran out winners on a score of 1-12 to 0-12.
For a long time in this game this result looked unlikely, but it now means that Blessington have had two wins on the trot. On the other hand, Baltinglass have lost two games and must surely win all games from here on to have any chance of keeping their championship hopes alive.
Scorers – Blessington: Jack Cotter 1-0, Mikey O’Connor 0-4, Anthony McLoughlin 0-2, Jordan Nolan 0-2, Kevin Hanlon 0-1, Stephen Carroll 0-1, Paul McLoughlin 0-1, Patrick O’Connor 0-1.
Baltinglass: Daniel Kelly 0-3, Mark Jackson 0-2, Adam McHugh 0-2, Kevin Murphy 0-1, John McGrath 0-1, Johnny Keogh 0-2, Pat Burke 0-1.