St Pat’s power past the Dales

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE at Aughim

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

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