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Sunday 24 September 2017

Off to a super start

Former Pat's star helps Ashford spoil Deckie's opener

The Ashford team who got the better of Deckie Byrne’s Laragh in their opening Murphy’s Hotel Division 3 clash
The Ashford team who got the better of Deckie Byrne’s Laragh in their opening Murphy’s Hotel Division 3 clash

Mick Hagan

The opening round of the Hiltonne Engineering Football league Division 2 saw newly promoted Laragh make the short journey to face last year's Junior A champions Ashford in a game that was played in damp conditions on Saturday last.

Ashford 1-10 Laragh 1-09

The game saw two champions from last year in action which saw Ashford crowned worthy champions when they defeated Kilcoole in the championship decider, while Laragh also saw off the Kilcoole challenge to lift the Division 3 title.

Both teams entered this contest full of confidence and were hoping to build on last year's success and both sides are under new managers, with Laragh securing the services of former Rathnew legend Declan Byrne, while Ashford have opted for one of their own in Philip Doyle to lead the side.

In the end, a better balanced Ashford side emerged victorious with a one-point winning margin which must have left manager Philip Doyle pleased with the result and, while it is early days yet, no doubt that Laragh will bounce back to be a force under the guidance of Declan Byrne. But a word of warning to both clubs that much stiffer opposition lies ahead.

The opening score saw Laragh take the game to their opponents from the throw-in, which saw centre-forward Keith Lawlor split the winners defence to score a point after two minutes and the men from Glendalough followed up with another point from corner forward Myles Conway and could have being further ahead were it not for a missed chance.

At this stage the winners upped the tempo which resulted in centre-back Daniel Kavanagh surging forward to score an inspiring point.

This brought a quick response from Declan Byrne troops which saw them keep the pressure on and it was only a matter of time before scores would come.

Following a foul, John Nolan pointed the first of his five points, while Aaron Lynham edged his side further ahead with a disputed point to leave Laragh leading on a score line of 0-04 to 0-01 at the end of the first quarter.

With both defences on top scores were hard to come by, but the home side set about reducing the deficit and and Ashford attack resulted in a free being awarded which saw the former Tipperary Minor and St Patrick's star Brian Coen give midfielder Graham Mooney a perfect pass as he surged forward to score a point, while county hurler Aaron Nugent also got his name on the score sheet to reduce the deficit to a single point at 0-04 to 0-03.

Philip Doyle's side continue to show greater hunger during this period and after both sides missed scoring chances it was only fitting that Brian Coen showed his ability to score a point to bring the sides level at four points each after 22 minutes played.

The same pattern of play continued with both teams missing scoring chances before Laragh hit a golden spell with full-forward John Nolan score two points, one from a free.

Wing forward Stephen Olahan also got his name on the score sheet with a point from play to give Laragh a three-point cushion at 0-07 to 0-04.

The home side upped their game once more but were denied scores by the wood work on two occasions while Graham Mooney and Ross Quinn were left to rue two missed chances with bad wides before one last effort before the break saw Brian Coen scoring a point from play to close the half-time scoring with Laragh leading 0-07 to 0-05.

Laragh, who were hoping to build on their half-time lead, took the game to their opponents but found the going tough against a strong Ashford defence which inspired the rest of the team to respond.

This resulted in Ross Quinn scoring a point from play, while a hard-working Dean Mooney brought the sides level with a point following good work by Aaron Nugent which left the teams deadlocked at 0-07 each.

Not for the first time in the game Laragh took the game to the home side and following a late tackle John Nolan was left with the easy task of tapping over a point to edge his in front once again at 0-08 to 0-07.

With play flowing from end to it was the winners who started to dominate exchanges and, following a wide by Joey Doyle, things began to sway towards the home side as they kept the pressure on which forced the Laragh defence to commit fouls and the sharp Brian Coen converted two frees in a row to edge his side in front by 0-09 to 0-08.

Just as they did in the opening half, Laragh showed they are a proud club which resulted in John Nolan bringing the sides level once more with a point from a free which saw the teams deadlocked at 0-09 each at the end of the third quarter.

The winners were given a massive boost soon after when a move that was started in their own defence which saw several players involved as they worked the ball up the field to midfielder Graham Mooney who gathered and rounded his marker to crash the ball past Peter Merrigan for the opening goal of the game. But the winners failed to move on following what should have being a real tonic.

The visitors showed great fighting spirit as they set about replying to the set back which resulted in a 45 which they failed to convert and it looked like Ashford had weathered the storm but upped popped Keith Lawlor to bring the sides level with a goal that would have done any top soccer player proud.

Both sides missed two scoring chances before Brian Coen edged his team in front with a point from a free and one last effort from Laragh to take a share of the spoils failed as they squandered three scoring chances. It should also be noted that the Ashford defence deserve credit for the way they stood firm as the game entered injury time and the subsequent final whistle left Ashford winners by a single point after an entertaining game that was fiercely contested from start to finish which must have pleased both managers with the commitment shown by both sets of players.

Scorers - Ashford: Graham Mooney 1-01, Brian Coen 0-05 (3f), Daniel Kavanagh 0-01, Aaron Nugent 0-01, Ross Quinn 0-01, Dean Mooney 0-01.

Laragh: Keith Lawlor 1-01, John Nolan 0-05 (4f), Myles Conway 0-01, Stephen Olahan 0-01, Aaron Lynham 0-01.

Ashford: Lee Fitzpatrick; Thomas Kearns, Ronan Sugrue, Michael Taylor; Mick Traynor, Daniel Kavanagh, Michael Dickenson; Graham Mooney, Joey Doyle; Ross Quinn, Brian Coen, Dean Mooney; David Dowling, Aaron Nugent, Brian Shannon. Subs: Jay Taylor for Michael Dickenson, Conor Cunningham for Brian Shannon, Cal Connolly for Ross Quinn.

Laragh: Peter Merrigan; Ross Doonan, Jamie Cullen, Stephen Curley; Jack Dunne, Andrew Kenny, Craig McCoy; David McDonald, Damian Hanlon; Dan Power, Keith Lawlor, Stephen Olahan; Myles Conway, John Nolan, Aaron Lynham. Subs: John Hayes for Arran Lynham, Eamon Kennedy, Conor Byrne for Stephen Curley.

Referee: Gerry Corbett (Shillelagh)

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