Dales march on un­beaten

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - ERIC MELIA

AVON­DALE backed up their stun­ning win over Balt­in­glass in the first round of the Boom and Plat­form Hire Se­nior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship with a hard-earned vic­tory over Eire Og in Ash­ford last Sun­day evening.

On a mis­er­able day for foot­ball this was never go­ing to be the open free-flow­ing foot­ball that both sides de­sire, how­ever it was Avon­dale who ground the re­sult out with crucial sec­ond half goals com­ing from Cian O’Han­nain and Conor Byrne.

It took nine min­utes for the open­ing score with Dan Keane clev­erly en­gi­neer­ing a free that Dar­ren Hayden con­verted. Avon­dale had to wait 15 min­utes for their open­ing score from a Sean McGraynor free.

With the rain com­ing down heavy, the pitch was slippy and both sides were strug­gling to get good ball into their for­ward line.

Conor McGraynor showed his class with a point with the out­side of his right boot from 40 yards.

Af­ter 18 min­utes David Rooney tied it up with an in­ter­cep­tion from a sloppy pass be­fore split­ting the up­rights.

Avon­dale, although ap­pear­ing the bet­ter side, were be­ing very waste­ful in front of goal with nu­mer­ous wides and balls drop­ping short.

Even­tu­ally David Baker strode up from half back to show the for­wards how to do it. Rooney tied it up with a free be­fore Éire Óg’s Fin­tan O’Shea showed that Baker was not the only half back with an eye for an au­da­cious score on the field to put the Grey­stones men in front.

McGraynor tied it up on the half hour mark with a car­bon copy of his pre­vi­ous ef­fort.

Éire Óg nudged their noses in front af­ter a pa­tient pass­ing move­ment saw them find Dar­ragh Shiels who landed a mon­ster score for the lead at half-time.

An­other slow start to the sec­ond half re­sulted in noth­ing re­ally hap­pen­ing for the open­ing eight min­utes. How­ever, Avon­dale then struck into life. Sub­sti­tute Shane Beavor strode men­ac­ingly through the Grey­stones rear­guard be­fore of­fload­ing to cen­tre for­ward Conor Byrne and he drilled low and hard to the keep­ers right for the

open­ing goal.

Ross Ward added a free to put the Rath­drum men three clear.

Éire Óg showed courage to come back with a Rooney free fol­lowed by Matt Maguire and Dan Keane scores from play to tie things up.

On 51 min­utes came the crucial sec­ond goal. Conor Byrne lobbed a ball into O’Han­nain and the cor­ner-for­ward showed strength to roll his marker be­fore shoot­ing soc­cer style un­der ad­vanc­ing keeper Conor Browne to re­store the three-point lead.

Once more Éire Óg re­fused to sur­ren­der; Hayden with a free be­fore Keane put the min­i­mum be­tween the sides as we en­tered in­jury time. Conor McGraynor got an in­sur­ance point late on for the Dales.

A poor match over­all, caused by the con­di­tions. Avon­dale will be de­lighted to get their sec­ond vic­tory of the cam­paign to leave them tied at the top of the group with St. Pat’s and Bless­ing­ton. How­ever, af­ter shoot­ing 17 wides they have much to work on.

Éire Óg have been most un­for­tu­nate to lose their open­ing two games and with a bit more look they could be in a much stronger po­si­tion. Best for them were Dar­ren Hayden and wing backs Peter Keane and Fin­tan O’Shea although their whole back line was good as a co­he­sive unit.

For the vic­tors, Conor McGraynor hit some mag­nif­i­cent points and David Baker got a lot of break­ing ball. Man of match was Saoirse Kearon who kept Éire Óg dan­ger­man Shaun Cran­ley score­less and he cut out many Grey­stones at­tacks through his reading of the play.

Scorers - Avon­dale: Cian O’Han­nain 1-0, Conor Byrne 1-0, Conor McGraynor 0-3, David Baker 0-1, Ross Ward 0-1, Sean McGraynor 0-1

Éire Óg: David Rooney 0-3, Dar­ren Hayden 0-2, Daniel Keane 0-2, Fin­tan O’Shea 0-1, Matt Maguire 0-1, Dar­ragh Shiels 0-1

Avon­dale’s Zach Cullen pow­ers up the field with Éire Óg’s Dar­ren Hayden giv­ing chase.

Pho­tos: Bar­bara Flynn

Avon­dale’s David Baker kicks a point as Dar­ragh Shiels and Liam Maguire close in.

Éire Óg’s James Woods and Avon­dale’s Cian O’ Han­nain battle for pos­ses­sion.

Avon­dale’s Conor Byrne heads for goal.

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