ST PAT’S MARCH ON

Kelly helps him­self to 2-6 as Bless­ing­ton dis­man­tled

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

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 .

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