An Tochar and Balto set for quarter-final battles
AN TOCHAR battled to a hardearned win by the tightest of margins over Baltinglass, securing second spot in Group 2 of the Fitzgerald Kitcken’s Junior A Football Championship in Hollywood on Friday evening last.
This was literally a game of two halves as Baltinglass took the game to their opponents in the opening half, while a stern dressing down from management during the interval, rallied the Roundwood side who outscored their opponents four points to one in a low scoring second period.
Robin Farrell opened the scoring with a point from the first attack of the game for the Slaneysiders after great work by Tommy Murphy from the throw in. Indeed, Murphy doubled the lead for Baltinglass after An Tochar registered two wides.
The industrious Conor Davis got the Roundwood side off the mark in the sixth minute after a marauding run by Liam Gaffney.
Davis levelled matters from a placed ball after Eamon Wolohan was fouled. It wasn’t long before Baltinglass were back in front when Tommy Cullen harvested a point after a fine passage of play up the field.
Both teams were finding the greasy underfoot conditions difficult, especially An Tochar, whom seemed to be affected more by the slightly long grass and heavy due on the surface.
Niall Kirwan gave Baltinglass a two-point cushion to close out the opening quarter, leading 0-4 to 0-2. Conor Davis fielded a mark on the resultant kick-out and made a beeline up the pitch, beating three defenders and offloading to Eoin Murphy, who clinically dispatched the ball past William Rodgers to restore the lead for An Tochar.
Despite the goal, An Tochar could not build, only adding another point in the closing 13 minutes of the opening period.
Baltinglass took the game to their opponents when Alan Barrett pointed to cut the deficit to the minimum. An Tochar were breaking up the field when Niall Kirwan brilliantly turned over the possession, Kirwan dinked three defenders as he cut inroads and fired over an almighty point to level the battle once more.
An Tochar couldn’t buy a point for love nor money after that, as the wide count grew, from placed balls mainly. Gavin Fogarty put Ger Byrne through on goal, but Byrne slipped at the crucial moment before shooting.
Baltinglass took a stranglehold around midfield as they punished their opponents as a Robin Farrell white flag put Balto into the lead.
An Tochar restored parity once again, as the play was end to end. Peter Byrne cleared his lines after he saved a shot from Lee Furlong, the goalie soloed up the field playing a couple of one-twos, however, he had to make an almighty dash back as Baltinglass overturned possession on their own 21m line, broke back up the field and Tadgh O’Toole rifled the ball over the crossbar before Brian Lord closed out the scoring in the opening half.
Again Roundwood cursed their luck, as they pulled two gilt edged frees out the wrong side of the uprights as the half-time whistle sounded with the scoreboard reading 1-4 to 0-9 at the interval.
Baltinglass increased the lead from a placed ball on the 45m line from the boot of their goalie, William Rodger’s, which unbelievably proved to be their only score of the second period.
Things got scrappy with a number of yellow cards dished out and we went into seven long minutes without a score registered.
An Tochar seemed to grow into the game with Conor Davis in flying form, cutting the deficit down to two now after a smashing point by the centre half forward. Another barren five-minute spell followed as neither team scored, however one couldn’t take your eye of this intriguing battle.
A Gavin Fogarty pointed free was duly followed by an almighty point of the boot of Liam Gaffney put the game in the melting pot going into the closing five minutes. It was an almighty dogfight between two well balanced teams but An Tochar were that bit more clinical as Stefan Collier put them into the lead with 57 on the clock.
A helter skelter finish by both sides entailed, however, An Tochar held on to win by the minimum, to set up a quarter final place with Shillelagh/Coolboy, whereas the final quarter-final berth sees N81 neighbours Baltinglass and Blessington meet in a mouthwatering encounter.
Scorers - An Tochar: Eoin Murphy 1-0, Conor Davis 0-3, Brendan Kennedy 0-2, Liam Gaffney 0-1, Stefan Collier 0-1, Gavin Fogarty 0-1
Baltinglass : Niall Kirwan 0-2, Robin Farrell 0-2, Tommy Murphy 0-1, Tommy Cullen 0-1, Alan Barrett 0-1, Tadgh O’Toole 0-1, Brian Lord 0-1, William Rodgers 0-1 (f)
AN TOCHAR: Peter Byrne; Pat Donohue, Gavin Kenny, Conor Short; Eoin Murphy, Brendan Kennedy, Gavin Fogarty; Liam Halligan, Liam Gaffney; Eamon Wolohan, Conor Davis, Stephen Connor; Cian McHugh, Ger Byrne, Brendan Swords. Subs: Stefan Collier, Joe Gaffney, Eanna Kavanagh.
BALTINGLASS: William Hanlon; Karl Furlong, David Gethings, James Keane; Michael Dowling, Aaron Barrett, Tommy Cullen; Tom Murphy, Niall Kirwan; Conor Keogh, Robin Farrell, Alan Barrett; Tadgh O’Toole, Lee Furlong, Brian Lord. Subs: Stephen Quinn, James Quinn, Jack Timmins, Sean Doody, Mark Ashton.
REFEREE: Keith Peppard (Hollywood)
Annacurra captain Emily Rose Byrne, referee Ciaran Gough and Bray captain Orlagh O’Kane ahead of the Intermediate camogie final in Dunbur Park last Saturday.