‘Village’ too strong
Rathnew show their potential with win over An Tochar
JUST a week after the original game was abandoned due to a flare-up on the sideline, the re-fixed minor football championship tie between An Tochar and Rathnew passed off without any repeat unsavoury behaviour at Roundwood on Thursday evening.
In the earlier contest, a mere 21 minutes had elapsed when referee Liam Keenan decided to pull the players off the pitch, with Rathnew leading the home side by 1-3 to 0-4.
But, with the latter game being played in a sporting spirit and devoid of any outbursts of rancour or animosity, there was never any doubt but that match official John Keenan, who handled this year’s Leinster senior hurling final between Kilkenny and Wexford, would permit the full 60 minutes to be played.
In contrast to the unfinished match, which was closely contested in the course of its brief duration, Rathnew seized an early grip on the proceedings, and never looked in any danger of failing to build on their opening round win over Tinahely.
Admittedly, the large contingent of An Tochar supporters who packed the stand had good reason to be significantly encouraged when midfielder Andy Nolan opened the scoring with a point after just three minutes.
But six minutes later the home outfit were rocked on their heels when Rathnew full-forward Eoin Doyle finished to the net after a goal attempt from right corner-forward Ross Quinn had cannoned back into play off the left upright.
That score provided ‘The Village’ with an advantage which they subsequently never surrendered, and two minutes before half-time they additionally consolidated their position when Eoin Doyle raised his second green flag, this time expertly finishing off a move also involving Ross Quinn and midfielder Sean Coffey, who shot two first half points.
An Tochar closed the first half scoring with a fine left-footed effort from Andy Nolan, but they still found themselves facing a 2-4 to 0-4 deficit at the short break.
On the restart, Rathnew extended their advantage with a point apiece from Ross Quinn and outstanding play-maker Toby Martin, who is still eligible for the under-15 grade.
But following this, the home side enjoyed their best period in the match, hitting an answered three points in the space of seven minutes, through JP Nolan, Conor Fee and Ciaran Murray, to reduce their opponents’ lead to five points, 2-6 to 0-7.
However, Rathnew did not take long to re-establish their authority on the contest, shooting five points without reply inside five minutes, Curran contributing a brace, to put themselves firmly in the driving seat.
To their credit, the Roundwood side never gave up and they were rewarded for their efforts by registering four of the last five points scored prior to the final whistle.
Asked for a comment on the game, Rathnew manager Alan Clarke said: ‘We were very happy with the performance. The lads put in a good shift and battled away right to the end.
‘It was encouraging the way we responded with five points on the trot when An Tochar reduced our lead to five points early in the second half.
‘It was very tough for us coming back up to Roundwood tonight, but the lads showed their true colours by the way they worked so hard throughout and controlled the game for long stretches.
‘At times, we maybe over-elaborated a bit and went for goals when points were there for the taking, but really you can’t have any complaints when you win a match by seven points.
‘As well, there were some excellent individual performances, with (centre-back) Fionn O’Sullivan catching a lot of ball well over his head and making some great blocks, and Sean Coffey winning a lot of ball at midfield.
‘(Full-forward) Eoin Doyle is as good a forward as you’d get, and I think that you can give a lot of credit to the soccer for the ball skills of (centre-forward) Toby Curran, and he’d be up and down the pitch all night for you.’
An Tochar boss Liam Cullen said: ‘The lads have been working very hard all year and we were very proud of the effort they put in there tonight.
‘But we probably we didn’t hit the heights we were hoping to hit, though it was a difficult week for us given what happened last week.
‘However, in fairness to Rathnew, they were worthy winners tonight.’
On Monday night Rathnew took on Éire Óg in Ballinakill with the game ending in a draw at Rathnew 2-10, Éire Óg 3-7.
This sees Rathnew and Éire Óg facing a play-off against each other while Bray Emmets and Baltinglass will contest the other play-off to see who reaches the Minor ‘A’ football final for 2019.
Scorers – Rathnew: Eoin Doyle 2-2, Toby Curran 0-4, Sean Coffey, Reese Doyle 0-2 each, William Moorehouse, Ross Quinn 0-1 each.
An Tochar: Andy Nolan, JP Nolan (2f), Ciaran Murray (1f), 0-3 each, Conor Fee 0-2 (1f).
RATHNEW: Christopher Doyle; Tahang Tran-Quim, Aaron Quinn, Ryan O’Toole; Killian Clarke, Fionn O’Sullivan, Dylan Doyle; Sean Coffey, Ben Free; William Moorehouse, Toby Curran, Charlie Cruise; Ross Quinn, Eoin Doyle, Reese Doyle. AN TOCHAR: Cian Timmons; Luke Kenny, Jordan Brady, Dylan Cummins; James Cardiff, Matt Nolan, Ryan O’Hanlon; Andy Nolan, Niall Sheehan; Bobby Brady, JP Nolan, Cian Brady; Conor Fee, Darragh Fee, Ciaran Murray.