ST PAT’S MARCH ON
Kelly helps himself to 2-6 as Blessington dismantled
ST PATRICK’S 2-12 BLESSINGTON 1-6
ST PATRICK’S continued their ruthless march towards retaining the Miley Cup with this dismantling of Blessington which sees Casey O’Brien’s men join AGB in the two available semi-final slots after both teams topped their respective groups.
Tommy Kelly’s 2-6 for the day was a huge factor in the game, obviously, but this win and those that have come before it are the result of a well-oiled machine that nobody has as of yet found a way to combat – and looking at the manner of this performance against Mick Murray’s Blessington and taking into account the games so far in this Boom & Platfor Hire Senior Football Championship, it’s hard to see from where and who that inspired performance is going to come from.
Casey O’Brien’s men look to be in a different place to any of the other teams in the championship in terms of conditioning, natural ability and scoring threat. To hold a Blessington team to 1-6 over 60 minutes takes some doing but to do that with a new full-back who had played a full game in Newcastle in the Junior A football championship the previous evening who was presented with the challenges of marking Patrick O’Connor, Curtis Geragthy and Mick McLoughlin over the course of the hour is even more praiseworthy.
Like Dublin in many ways, this St Pat’s team look effortlessly comfortable on the ball and they are never idle off it. With the abundance of intelligence in key positions – Conor Ffrench at centre back, Stephen Duffy in his roaming role, Paudge McWalter at centre forward – they are a nightmare to plan against as Mick Murray and Gavin Wynne found to their cost last Saturday in a sunkissed Aughrim.
Throw in the tenacious and workaholic defenders like Shane Murley, Wayne Doyle, Ciaran Doyle and the remarkably impressive Patrick O’Keane and you have a St Pat’s heartland that is proving desperately difficult to penetrate up to now.
And then you have Dean Healy in the middle along with Paul Earls. Both men had relatively quiet days, but both offer so much in so many different ways. Ahead of them and all around them were Paul O’Brien and Ciaran McGettigan, both proving creative and hungry for work either side off the conductor, McWalter.
The man who will make the headlines will be Tommy Kelly, but he who was ably assisted by Bryan Doyle, with Stephen Duffy cruising for opportunities like a dominant lion in the long grass as the herd of wildebeests graze innocently nearby.
In fairness, Blessington came with a plan to topple St Pat’s but they proved too wayward in front of the posts, they never backed their physicality and height, and they found Casey O’Brien’s men in stunning form all over the field.
The defending champions had 1-2 on the board before Mikey O’Connor could register Blessington’s opener. It might sound like a harmless thing to say but if you’re going to put doubt in Pat’s mind a magic start is required and Blessington had anything but.
Paul O’Brien grabbed the opening point after good work by the tenacious Ciaran McGettigan. Tommy Kelly opened his account moments later after a ball from Dean Healy and then a ghost-like weave through three Blessington defenders from the sublime Paudge McWalter saw him hoist a ball up in front of Tommy Kelly who palmed it beyond Stephen Kitt in the Blessington goal. Mick Murray’s men had two wides on the board at that stage as they struggled in front of the posts, a problem they would never really solve for the remainder of the game.
Blessington showed a number of positional switches to the match programme as they looked to take Pat’s on for pace in key positions. Patrick O’Connor lined out at full-forward with Curtis Geragthy moving to half-forward and Eoin Keogh going to midfield with David Boothman. Anto McLoughlin was dropping deep to shore up the defence while Mick McLoughlin was started in place of Jordan Nolan.
Mikey O’Connor got them up and running before Patrick dropped a ball short to Shane Doyle in the Pat’s goal. Points from McGettigan (2) and a 45 from Tommy Kelly opened up a 1-5 to 0-2 lead for Pat’s and it was really difficult to see where Blessington were going to hurt the defending champions.
Mick Murray pulled Patrick O’Connor out the field and installed Anto McLoughlin inside and it was McLoughlin who almost found the Pat’s net late in the first half with a rocket of a shot that was saved instinctively by Shane Doyle and the deflected ball flew up and dropped on top of the crossbar and out of the reach of the invading Eoin Keogh and was cleared to safety.
Mikey O’Connor would follow that effort with a wide and then David Boothman delivered a long ball which Mick McLoughlin got the fist to and directed to the back of the Pat’s net for a precious lifeline at the break as Pat’s took a 1-5 to 1-2 lead into the dressing rooms.
Could Blessington maintain their pressure? Tommy Kelly widened the gap with a pointed free won by Conor Ffrench. Blessington started lobbing in high balls to Anto and Mick McLoughlin at the Rednagh Hill end but Matthew Traynor would prove more than capable in defending this trusted and tried method of attack.
A short 45 from Anto McLoughlin was gathered by Mikey O’Connor and the nifty attacker dropped over off the left to make it a onescore game.
Stephen Duffy (2) and Tommy Kelly points were answered by a Mick McLoughlin fisted effort before Eoin Keogh bagged Blessington’s last point for 15 minutes to make it 1-9 to 1-5 for Pat’s.
Casey O’Brien’s men went for the kill in the last quarter in a manner that will have to please the boss. The excellent Patrick O’Keane started to blitz and 1-2 from Tommy Kelly, the goal from a penalty) finished it as Pat’s ran out comfortable winners by 2-12 to 1-6.
Pat’s move on to the semi-final and they look in a stunningly healthy position with an abundantly talented starting 15 and a bench to die for.
Blessington enter the quarter-finals where they will face Alan Costello’s Tinahely who suffered defeat to AGB in Baltinglass at the same time on Saturday. Both sides will fancy their chances.
Scorers – St Patrick’s: Tommy Kelly 2-6 (2f), Ciaran McGettigan 0-2, Stephen Duffy 0-2 (1f), Patrick O’Keane 0-1, Paul O’Brien.
Blessington: Mick McLoughlin 1-1, Mikey O’Connor 0-2, Curtis Geragthy 0-1, Eoin Keogh 0-1, Kevin Hanlon 0-1.
ST PATRICK’S: Shane Doyle; Shane Murley, Matthew Traynor, Wayne Doyle; Ciaran Doyle, Conor Ffrench, Patrick O’Keane; Dean Healy, Paul Earls; Paul O’Brien, Paudge McWalter, Ciaran McGettigan; Bryan Doyle, Stephen Duffy, Thomas Kelly. Subs: Conor O’Brien, Jonathan Delahunt for P Earls, Luca Rampersaud for C McGettigan, Jordan Pettigrew.
BLESSINGTON: Stephen Kitt; Barry Murphy, Wayne Callaghan, Stevan Bohan; Jack Cotter, Jack Gilligan, Kevin Hanlon; David Boothman, Eoin Keogh; Curtis Geragthy, Anto McLoughlin, Adam Boland; Mick McLoughlin, Patrick O’Connor, Mikey O’Connor. Subs: Jordan McGarr for A Boland, Gavin Murray for C Geragthy, Jordan Nolan for M O’Connor, Aaron Curran for S Bohan
REFEREE: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely)
Anthony McLoughlin of Blessington is challenged by Wayne Doyle of St Pat’s.
Paul O’Brien of St Pat’s closes in on David Boothman of Blessington.
Curtis Geragthy of Blessington is challenged by Dean Healy of St Patrick’s.
Kevin Hanlonof Blessington under pressure from Ciaran Doyle, St Pat’s .