Cot­ter cracker seals sweet Blesso win!

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - LIAM O’LOUGH­LIN

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.

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