Pow­er­ful from Pats

O’Brien’s men march on af­ter dis­patch­ing brave ’Dales

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - MARTIN O’BRIEN


THIS game was a re­peat of the group game be­tween reign­ing cham­pi­ons, St Pats, and Avon­dale who con­quered his­toric king­pins, Rath­new, in an epic quar­ter-fi­nal af­ter ex­tra-time.

This was Avon­dale’s sec­ond semi-fi­nal ap­pear­ance in three years, and they would meet the ma­jor force in Wick­low foot­ball that is this St Pats team un­der man­ager Casey O’Brien.

All the talk from the stand was about the teams line ups. Avon­dale started Marc Baker, to have an all-Baker half-back line with Eoin and David. Matthew Traynor lined out on dan­ger man Conor Byrne. Saoirse Kearon picked up Tommy Kelly, and Dean Ga­han moved to mid­field to track John Crowe. Then scene was set, and off we went.

Avon­dale got off the mark first through Conor McGraynor, who was op­er­at­ing at mid­field for the day.

The Dales would come up against an in-form Tommy Kelly, who turned ev­ery­thing he touched in to a scor­ing chance. He kicked two peaches in the open­ing ex­changes, and was ably as­sisted in the scor­ing stakes by John Crowe and a Ciaran McGet­ti­gan dou­ble.

Avon­dale kicked in to gear, and rat­tled off four scores on the trot. A free each from Conor McGraynor and Ross Ward got sent them on their way, with Conor Byrne com­ing more in to the game and slot­ting a well fin­ished score.

Barry Shee­han will feel ag­grieved not to have had a goal chance in the 23rd minute as he stole in be­hind the St Pats de­fence, only to have been fouled by Dean Healy for what looked like a long time be­fore he fi­nally heard the whis­tle. Ward dis­patched the free and Avon­dale led by one.

This may well have been the turn­ing point in this game, as Dean Healy turned it on its head. He latched on to a ball through from Crowe. He charged the Avon­dale goal and ham­mered the ball to the top cor­ner of the net. Paul O’Brien added a point and the cham­pi­ons led by three. Ward an­swered for Avon­dale form a free, but the scene was set.

It may be fair to say Avon­dale didn’t make the most of their time on top and this sucker punch may have taken the wind out of the sails of the Rath­drum men.

They started with Eu­gene Dunne sweep­ing, but aban­doned that when St Pats were us­ing the ex­tra man.

They pushed up and Dunne was go­ing box to box. How long could he keep go­ing.

On top of this, they were be­gin­ning to find it hard to deal with the St Pats run­ners; John Crowe, Dean Healy and Conor Ffrench mak­ing se­ri­ous in­roads.

All that said, they were only two points be­hind. Could they find a way to keep this ef­fort up? The half-time score line read Avon­dale 0-7, St Pa­trick’s 1-6.

In­ter­est­ingly, Avon­dale swapped out mid­field­ers at half time with Ian McDon­ald re­plac­ing Barry Shee­han to pick up Healy.

How­ever, it was the Mur­ragh men who started the bright­est in the sec­ond half.

Tommy Kelly popped a free over the bar be­fore Matthew Traynor ven­tured for­ward to slip past the eye of the de­fence and had a shot palmed in to the path of that man Kelly, who fin­ished to the net. When John Crowe added a point from the kick out, it was a seven-point gap.

A huge chal­lenge lay ahead for Avon­dale, and they took right to it.

They had two goal chances that they needed to go in.

Conor McGraynor grabbed a kick out, set sail for the goals, hands it in­side to sub Shane Beavor, he snatches it wide to the right.

Min­utes later, Oisin McGraynor, this time bear­ing down on the St Pats goal, he shoots, a save from Shane Doyle, a scram­ble en­sues and a free is given. Conor Byrne dis­patches. Will they rue the missed chances?

St Pa­trick’s push for­ward, long ball to Kelly, over the bar. The ball is kicked out, Paul Earls rises and takes it for­ward, he flicks it in to Shane Mur­ley who crosses the Avon­dale 21, he pops it to Dean Healy off the shoul­der, tear­ing down the mid­dle and he slams the ball to the net.

The killer blow is landed and Avon­dale will feel that one of those goal chances would have made all the dif­fer­ence. A quiet game by Healy’s high stan­dards, but he still pops up at the vi­tal times to land two ma­jors.

Avon­dale fought, they banged three points over, Byrne with two and Conor McGraynor. At this point there was rum­blings that this game wasn’t over yet. One huge push needed. Some­thing needed to hap­pen to drag Avon­dale back.

From here how­ever, the St Pats ma­chine that had been tick­ing away all through the game just con­tin­ued to stran­gle the life out of the game. They added scores from Stephen Duffy and Kelly. The ba­sics that they mea­sure them­selves on came to the fore – work rate, phys­i­cal­ity, turnovers, ball re­ten­tion. Ev­ery­one knew their job, worked their socks off and fin­ished the game off.

Look­ing back, the writ­ing may have been on the wall for Avon­dale at half-time, but they didn’t give up.

They car­ried ball, they con­tested ev­ery­thing with ev­ery fi­bre that they had. Did the ex­tra-time ex­ploits take it out of them? Was it just St Pats re­lent­less­ness that over came them? Who knows, but they left it all out there.

St Pats had some stand out per­form­ers on the day – Shane Mur­ley, Matthew Traynor, Conor Ffrench, John Crowe, Tommy Kelly to name a few. In truth you could name more, but their work ethic all over the field was im­pres­sive.

They will now look for­ward to a chance to re­tain their crown. They have been the stan­dard set­ters in the cham­pi­onship so far, and will hope to top off their un­beaten run in cham­pi­onship 2019 as county cham­pi­ons.

Star Per­former – Tommy Kelly

Scor­ers – Avon­dale: Conor Byrne 0-4, Conor McGraynor 0-3, Ross Ward 0-3, Oisin McGraynor 0-1, Paddy Kin­sella 0-1.

St Pa­trick’s: Tommy Kelly 1-5, Dean Healy 2-0, John Crowe 0-2, Ciaran McGet­ti­gan 0-2, Paul O’Brien 0-1, Stephen Duffy 0-1. AVON­DALE: Brian Burke; Si­mon Cullen, Saoirse Kearon, Liam Kin­sella; David Baker, Eoin Baker, Marc Baker; Dean Ga­han, Barry Shee­han; Conor McGraynor, Oisin McGraynor, Zach Cullen; Ross Ward, Conor Byrne, Eu­gene Dunne. Subs: Ian McDon­ald for Barry Shee­han, Cian O’Han­nain for Ross Ward, Shane Beavor for Eu­gene Dunne, Paddy Kin­sella for Si­mon Cullen, Barry Shee­han for Dean Ga­han.

ST PA­TRICK’S: Shane Doyle; Shane Mur­ley, Matthew Traynor, Wayne Doyle; Ciaran Doyle, Conor Ffrench, Pa­trick O’Keane; Dean Healy, John Crowe; Paul O’Brien, Pa­trick McWal­ter, Ciaran McGet­ti­gan; Paul Earls, Stephen Duffy, Tommy Kelly. Subs: Johnny De­lahunt for Ciaran McGet­ti­gan, Bryan Doyle for Paul Ear­les, Jor­dan Pet­ti­crew for Johnny De­lahunt (Blood Sub), Niall Ear­les for Shane Mur­ley, Conor O’Brien for Stephen Duffy, Ai­dan Dunne for Pa­trick McWal­ter.

REF­EREE: Kieron Kenny (Ti­na­hely)

Avon­dale’s Con­nor McGraynor jumps high­est for this ball dur­ing the SFC semi-fi­nal in Aughrim.

Avon­dale’s Liam Kin­sella comes un­der pres­sure from Dean Healy of St Pa­trick’s dur­ing the SFC semi-fi­nal.

Dean Healy tries to put pres­sure on Avon­dale’s Oisin McGraynor.

Avon­dale’s Zach Cullen sur­rounded by Shane Mur­ley and Pa­trick O’Keane of St. Pats.

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