St Pat’s power past the Dales
ST PATRICK’S AVONDALE
A word of caution to the defences who have yet to experience the threat of Tommy Kelly: do not leave an acre of space wide open in front of probably the most lethal attacker currently playing in the county for him to exploit and profit handsomely from like Avondale did last Saturday evening in Aughrim.
The responsibility of curbing Kelly’s influence on the game fell on the shoulders of Saoirse Kearon and while the Avondale defender battled bravely and willingly all evening he was left abandoned by a gameplan that allowed Pat’s supply ball sweetly into the space in front of Kelly and there’s not a defender in the county who will combat that unless he has some assistance.
To be fair to the Dales, that’s not the sole reason they lost this game by such a margin and by such magnitude when their victories over Baltinglass and Éire Óg are taken into consideration. Patrick O’Keane’s marking job on the talented Conor Byrne is another and the ruthlessness of the Pat’s defence and their ability to shut down attacks and rob possession are just a few more.
Avondale never turned up for this game and they couldn’t handle the physical power of the Pat’s side who were relentless and who must be considered as red hot favourites to retain the Miley barring a complete collapse on their part or a superhuman effort by one of a very select few teams.
As strong as the Pat’s starting 15 and their subs they brought on look, it’s worth bearing in mind that Conor Ffrench and Padraig Higgins are also back in the panel and were not used, with Ffrench being one of the standout players in last year’s championship and guaranteed to deliver for his side when required.
Davy Burke’s men started reasonably well everywhere but the scoreboard and had four wides to show for their efforts until the 29th minute of the game when they finally notched their opener from the boot of Ross Ward from a free.
At that stage they trailed by 2-8 to 0-1 and were well and truly blown out of the water by their opponents who were putting on a show up and down the field and who thumped in two goals within 60 seconds to knock the stuffing out of their Rathdrum counterparts at the start of the second quarter.
Avondale had three wides in three minutes at the start before Stephen Duffy opened the Pat’s account.
Three Tommy Kelly points over the course of the next 10 minutes were a result of the determination and doggedness of the Pat’s players out the field and the delivery of ball in front of the lofty attacker who couldn’t put a foot wrong it seemed.
John Crowe took a pass from the aforementioned Kelly before walloping home past Brian Burke
in the Avondale goal after 15 minutes. The Avondale netminder had hardly kicked the ball out when he was collecting it from the back of his net again after Dean Healy powered through and walloped high to the roof of the net, 2-4 to 0-0, 15 gone and no sign of any semblance of a recovery from any quarter.
Conor McGraynor would strike the crossbar and Ross Ward would drop a ball short to Shane Doyle in the Pat’s goal after the double whammy of the goals but Avondale were in terrible trouble all over the field. With Conor Byrne being marked out of the game and the Pat’s defence locking up the threats of Oisin McGraynor and Cian O Hannain and the likes it just looked like a totally different Avondale side than the last two games, or, alternatively, much more formidable opposition.
A Duffy free and three more Tommy Kelly points pushed Pat’s out to 2-8 to 0-0 in front before Avondale finished on a positive note with two pointed frees from Ward and, finally, the sanctuary of the dressing room.
Sean McGraynor and Shane Beevor were introduced after the break for Eugene Dunne and Cian O’Hannain and Davy Burke’s side produced an excellent start to the second half with points from Mark Baker, Ian McDonald, Connor Byrne and a free from Ward to leave the deficit at the much more manageable 2-8 to 0-6.
However, Pat’s soon stirred from their slumber and they proceeded to put the finishing touches to a very impressive and comprehensive victory with points from Tommy Kelly (2), Paudge McWalter (2), Stephen Duffy (2, one free) and a goal from the unstoppable Kelly in the 56th minute.
Avondale never gave up and brought a few super saves out of Shane Doyle late on but could only register one more point, that from Oisin McGraynor in the 50th minute on an evening when their attack completely malfunctioned against a merciless defence and when their defence just couldn’t handle the running and the passing of a team in ruddy health as they prepare to set sail for the business end of this championship.
Scorers – St Patrick’s: Tommy Kelly 1-8 (2f), Stephen Duffy 0-4 (3f), Dean Healy 1-0, John Crowe 1-0, Paudge McWalter 0-2.
Avondale: Ross Ward 0-3 (3f), Mark Baker 0-1, Ian McDonald 0-1, Conor Byrne 0-1, Oisin McGraynor 0-1.
Avonidale’s Oisin McGraynor looks to go past Niall Donnelly of St. Pats during the SFC clash in Aughrim. Photo: Joe Byrne