Rathnew put eight past Shillelagh
If this was a boxing match someone would be up for murder.
Cup competitions the world over are known and loved for their romance, their underdog stories, those last second victories by the minnows but unfortunately too often the reality is so horribly different and this was the case in Shillelagh when a scintillating Rathnew side came to town and devoured the challenge of Shillelagh United in an 8-0 thrashing.
The thin line of supporters and substitutes in the shelter of the tall hedge could do little else other than shuffle uncomfortably on their feet as goal after goal hit the back of Keith Collins' net throughout the 92 painful minutes of this encounter.
Across the field the Rathnew mentors and subs looked like a satisfied pack of lions pacing the line knowing that the hunt has been successful, their prey was there for the taking.
In fairness though the Shillelagh boys were not found wanting when it came to effort or commitment. The likes of Andy Fahy, Brendan Behan, Gary Doran, Killian Doyle to name a few tried their best and fought the good fight but when it came to first touch, awareness, passing, defending and creating goal scoring opportunities it was Rathnew's day in the sun.
For the home side there was no sign of Don Jackman and the big Coolkenno man could have made a positive difference to the outcome if he had been available but it wouldn't have changed the overall impression left by the performance of the visitors and that was that this Rathnew outfit will take some stopping.
It took 11 minutes for them to open their account on a fresh, bright morning just outside of Shllelagh. Gary Doran and Killian Doyle launched Shillelagh's first attack in the opening seconds but the Rathnew defence, marshaled maniacally by Colin Jameson, was in no mood for generosity and they suffered few relapses over the 92 minutes.
Mark O'Sullivan and Jody Merrigan were showing well for Rathnew early on and Shillelagh's Senan Finucane cleared with a header from an early Rathnew free. But signs of what was to come were there for all to see even at this early stage. Jameson swung in an early corner won off Mark Collins near the corner flag and Mark O'Sullivan's header limped wide after five minutes but they were finding space by the bucketful.
Ken Doyle sent a rasper wide after six minutes for Rathnew before a wonderful Gary Doran run gave Shillelagh a free in a decent position but James Behan's shot won't be one he'll tell the grandkids about in years to come.
Jody Merrigan then had the ball in the Shillelagh net but was ruled offside and then Shillelagh's Andy Fahy crossed from a free into the Rathnew box but this was cleared and away hared Rathnew. Jody Merrigan found himself through on goal but his effort went out for a corner.
The resulting kick made it's way like an heat seeking missile to the boot of Ken Doyle and he struck it beautifully with his left just inside the box past Keith Collins and into the back of the net. Cue the opening of the floodgates.
Jody Merrigan goaled after 15 minutes following a decent period of Shillelagh pressure thanks to the exploits of Gary Doran in the middle of the park. Merrigan's header was a thing of beauty though. Ken Doyle swept in a sweet cross and the lofty Merrigan floated the ball past Collins and into the net near the left hand post.
Immediately after Shillelagh enjoyed their best chance of the game when Fahy got on the end of a good move and forced Cathal Moody in the Rathnew goal to push the ball over the crossbar.
An episode of handbags and foul mouthing followed with an eye-catching splash of yellow cards brightening up the south Wicklow day. This settled the nerves and Rathnew got back to the business of scoring goals.
Paul Merrigan was next up for celebrations on 31 minutes when his shot took a wicked deflection and gave Collins no chance in the Shillelagh goals. Jody Merrigan was determined to bag another one and he did thanks to an awful error by the Shillelagh netminder to leave the score at 4-0 and rising.
A Shane Doyle corner after 38 minutes was met by Chris Gregory and he made it 5-0 before subsitute Adam Small collected a spilled ball from Collins who had saved from Jody Merrigan and he made it 6-0.
The second half was a long period of game and gallant Shillelagh play interrupted by two more Rathnew goals. Paul Merrigan's attempted cross flew in mercilessly over the swiping hand of Keith Collins. And then Shane Doyle bagged the goal of the game when he ran the length of the field with the ball at his feet, past two defenders, into the box, was tackled, held possession, turned and slammed home. He also takes the best celebration award with his dropping to his knees and praising the lord.
For Shillelagh Brendan Behan, Mark Collins and Gary Doran were really good, hard working and unrelenting in the face of blatantly superior opposition.
For Rathnew they will be happy enough with the win and the relentless drive for goals but manager Barry Mernagh will know all too well that other defences won't leak goals like Shillelagh's did on Sunday and those errors made by the Rathnew men will be punished on other occasions.
Top form: Colin Jameson at the back for being a rock and Paul Merrigan further up for making good things happen.