An Tochar emerge from costly semi-fi­nal bat­tle

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - MICK HAGAN


AN TOCHAR se­cured a fi­nal berth in this year’s Fitzger­ald Kitchens JAFC fi­nal against Bless­ing­ton when they got the bet­ter of a brave Bar­dar­rig side in Ash­ford on Satur­day last.

Af­ter what was a dread­ful week of rain, the play­ing sur­face at Ash­ford stood well for the oc­ca­sion.

This was a very de­cent bat­tle that was de­cided by Oisin Cullen scor­ing the game’s only goal and An Tochar’s abil­ity to take the ma­jor­ity of their scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The men from Kil­macurra came through the group stages of the cam­paign un­de­feated but were held to a draw by St Pa­trick’s and Ash­ford and in do­ing so clinched one of the semi-fi­nal berths.

An Tochar had to dig deep be­fore see­ing off the chal­lenge of a highly fan­cied Cool­boy/Shil­le­lagh out­fit in the quar­ter-fi­nal to set up a last four show­down against Barn­dar­rig.

The sides traded early wides with one each in the open­ing min­utes be­fore Michael Mur­phy opened the scor­ing with a point from play af­ter five min­utes.

Im­pres­sive cor­ner-for­ward Oisin Cullen got on the end of a fine team move to bag An Tochar’s opener shortly af­ter­wards.

With both de­fences on top in the dread­ful con­di­tions scores were scarce and six min­utes elapse with­out a score be­fore Michael Cullen edged Barn­dar­rig ahead with a tasty score and a Michael Mur­phy free pushed John Be­g­ley’s side out to a 0-3 to 0-1 lead af­ter 12.

Not for the first time in the game Shay Cullen’s side ral­lied and top marks­man Oisin Cullen re­duced the deficit with a point from play, but Barn­dar­rig seemed to be cop­ing with the con­di­tions bet­ter than their op­po­nents and points from Michael Mur­phy and John An­drew Kin­sella gave them a three-point cush­ion at 0-5 to 0-2 with 25 min­utes on the clock.

The game changed di­rec­tion in the next few mo­ments. Sub­sti­tute Stephen Col­lier bagged a point be­fore Cullen found the net and that vi­tal ma­jor was fol­lowed by a po9int from play from Cian Mchugh and An Tochar now led by 1-4 to 0-5 at the break.

Two wides and a Paul Ryan point was how Barn­dar­rig started the sec­ond half but a missed goal chance from Malachy Stone would come back to haunt them in the end.

Points were swapped be­tween Michael Mur­phy and Gavin Fog­a­rty but An Tochar then started to seize control in ket sec­tors of the field.

Bren­dan Swords made it 1-7 to 0-7 and the hard-work­ing Gavin Fog­a­rty pushed An Tochar ahead by four. Would it be enough?

Barn­dar­rig pushed hard for fur­ther scores but they met an An Tochar de­fence in no mood for con­ced­ing ground and Shay Cullen’s men emerged with a five-point vic­tory and a place in the county fi­nal.

How­ever, the Round­wood out­fit lost five of their start­ing 15 to in­jury dur­ing this game in­clud­ing Bren­dan Kennedy, and this will be a huge cause for con­cern to the man­age­ment ahead of a tough bat­tle with Bless­ing­ton on Satur­day.

Scor­ers - An Tochar: Oisin Cullen 1-2, Gavin Fog­a­rty 0-4 (3f), Clan McHugh 0-1, Stephen Col­lier 0-1, Bren­dan Swords 0-1.

Barn­dar­rig: Michael Mur­phy 0-4 (3f), John An­drew Kin­sella 0-1, Michael Cullen 0-1, Paul Ryan 0- 1. AN TOCHAR: Peter Byrne; Eoin Mur­phy, Gavin Kenny, Conor Shortt; Joe Gaffney, Bren­dan Kennedy, Gavin Fog­a­rty; Bill Hal­li­gan, Liam Gaffney; Stephen O’Con­nor, Conor Davis, Ea­mon Wolo­han; Oisin Cullen, Ger Byrne, Cian McHugh. Subs: Bren­dan Swords for B Hal­li­gan, Sean Davis for B Kennedy, Stephen Col­lier for C Davis, Enda Ka­vanagh for E Wolo­han, Liam Kenna for S Col­lier, Pat Dono­hue for C Shortt,

BARN­DAR­RIG: Mar­cus Quinn; Shane Whe­lan, James Cullen, Kevin Cullen; Malachy Stone, Martin Cullen, Jac­ques McCall; Bernard Quinn, Anthony Quinn; Paul Ryan, An­drew Peter Ka­vanagh, Michael Cullen; Tom Doyle, Michael Mur­phy, John An­drew Kin­sella. Subs: Chris Macken for A Quinn (inj), Jack Kennedy for C Macken, Joe Toomey for T Doyle.

REF­EREE: John O’Brien (New­cas­tle)

Barn­dar­rig, who bowed out at the semi-fi­nal stage af­ter de­feat to An Tochar.

The An Tochar side who de­feated Barn­dar­rig to progress to the JAFC fi­nal this Satur­day in Aughrim.

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