Rathnew into the last eight
Strong second-half display
RATHNEW made it three wins from three to reach the quarter-finals of the Philip Doyle Junior B Football Championship after defeating AGB by four points with a very strong second-half showing.
AGB were arguably the better side in the first half as they endured a rapid start. The Rathnew net was rippled 24 seconds into the game. David O’Neill floated a ball in from distance, Rathnew full-back Jason Devlin attempted to punch the ball clear but it was poorly judged, and the ball was diverted towards goal, wrong-footing keeper Richard Kavanagh.
The home side showed better glimpses of play early on with their midfielders, O’Neill and Tommy New, controlling the game.
It was seven minutes before another score was posted, with Rathnew’s Edward Doyle pointing his first before a penalty was awarded to his side. Jordan Graham was pushed off the ball by Brendan O’Sullivan and referee Chris Canavan awarded the spot kick. Doyle stepped up and slotted the ball down the middle.
10 minutes in and the ball hit the net for the third time as AGB broke away impressively with the ball eventually landing in Ciaran O’Reilly’s arms then he slotted home easily. Four scores so far, with three majors and just one ball put over the bar.
Rathnew weren’t getting much action further afield as they lost concentration too easily causing them to take their eye off the ball at crucial times.
Jack Darcy stuck over a beauty with the outside of his right boot to give AGB a four-point lead.
Gary Fennell was causing problems for the Rathnew defence as he always got in front of his defender, claiming possession and handing the ball onto onrushing forwards.
There were a lot of risky passes in both back lines causing nerves from both benches but rarely were these capitalised on. The creation of opportunities was lacking for both with a lot of poor conversions being shown, 10 wides between them in the first half.
James Hunter and Joshua Graham along with Ross McBride and Jack Darcy all pointed before half-time to leave the scores at 2-3 to 1-4 in favour of the home outfit. This score could be seen as a bit of a surprise considering the form books, as Rathnew had been victorious in their two group games whereas AGB had only picked up a draw from their two matches.
AGB did extend their lead early on in the half as Mark Hurley and Gary Fennell pointed after Edward Doyle’s early score. The game slowed down somewhat as AGB goalscorer Ciaran O’Reilly went down off the ball and he would eventually be missed by his side as they only pointed twice after this.
Composure was lacking in the minutes after the replacement as a lot of basic errors were on display such as drops of the ball and pick ups of the deck which were flagged often by referee Canavan.
With 20 minutes to go, Edward Doyle again with a free pulled the gap back to two before he had a goal chance. He rounded the keeper impressively but somehow from around three yards out, couldn’t convert the chance.
Rathnew eventually levelled the game after a boomer from midfielder Mick Nolan with his side finally finding the confidence that they were lacking.
David O’Neill and James Hunter swapped scores to keep the scores tied with 10 minutes remaining, although there would be a good few minutes of stoppage time.
Rathnew were aiming high balls in towards Edward Doyle but AGB’s full-back and goalkeeper, Brendan O’Sullivan and Kyle O’Connor, were dealing fairly well from play.
The away side finally took the lead with five minutes to go as Joshua Graham put one over before Graham, Doyle and substitute James Boylan rounded up the scores to give their side a four-point victory.
In the final moments, AGB’s Jack Darcy was shown a straight red for dissent to rub more misery into the Arklow side who never really turned up for the second half. Rathnew will be looking to kick on from this andpush forward and aim for championship glory.
Scorers – AGB: Ciaran O’Reilly 1-0; OG 1-0; David O’Neill 0-2; Jack Darcy 0-2; Mark Hurley 0-1; Gary Fennell 0-1; Ross McBride 0-1.
Rathnew: Edward Doyle 1-7 (4f, 1 pen); Joshua Graham 0-3; James Hunter 0-2; Mick Nolan 0-1; James Boylan 0-1.