Sunday 26 February 2017

Keenan earns St Pat's second bite at cherry

LOUTH star and Man of the Match Paddy Keenan handed St Patrick's a lifeline as a thrilling decider ended all square at the GAA Grounds in Drogheda.

The All Star kicked seven of his side's 10 points, including a 57th-minute equaliser to ensure a second bite of the cherry for his largely lacklustre colleagues.

Both sides missed tough frees from distance in the closing minutes, but when the drama and tension eventually subsides it will be St Pat's thanking the football gods for a second chance.

In search of their 19th county title, Blues will lament some wayward first-half shooting. Eugene Judge's side kicked four wides in the first 20 minutes and dropped five shots into the grateful arms of Pat's and Louth 'keeper Sean Connor.

Widely expected to struggle in the midfield exchanges, it was the Drogheda outfit that dominated -- particularly on the breaks -- but it took them 27 minutes to convert that superiority into a lead.

Despite feeding off scraps for much of the first period, Pat's were in front three times in the opening quarter as Keenan (0-2) and Eoin O'Connor continued their fine run of scoring form. John Kermode and the impressive Andy McDonnell kept Blues in touch early on and by the time Keith Lynch levelled it at 0-3 apiece, they were well on top.

The pressure finally told in the 27th minute when Jimmy Murray was pulled down by Diarmuid MacArtain just inside the penalty area.

Kermode made no mistake with a high finish past 'keeper Connor and the game seemed to be drifting away from Pat's when McDonnell ran from the halfway line to pop over a fine score. However, Pat's steadied the ship before the break with a free from Eamon Carroll, who then set up Keenan for a another fine point that left Blues 1-4 to 0-5 up.

Carroll and Colm Judge traded frees after the restart, but Pat's were a different proposition in the second half and three points without reply from Keenan saw them hit the front again with just over 11 minutes left on the clock.

Blues didn't panic and ended a 20-minute barren spell with two points from Hugh McGinn (free) and Kermode to regain a slender advantage.

Yet it was Keenan who had the final say, rising to claim a Darren O'Hanlon free before spinning onto this 'weaker' left foot to hit the equaliser.

SCORERS -- St Patrick's: P Keenan 0-7 (0-2f), E Carroll 0-2 (0-2f), E O'Connor 0-1. Newtown Blues: J Kermode 1-2 (1-0 pen), C Judge (f), J Murray, K Lynch, A McDonnell, H McGinn (f) 0-1 each.

ST PATRICK'S -- S Connor; D MacArtain, D Finnegan, D O'Hanlon; R Finnegan, E Breen, E Zamboglou; C Goss, P Keenan; A McCann, S Hynes, P Mallon; E Carroll, E O'Connor, D O'Connor. Subs: K White for P Mallon (13).

NEWTOWN BLUES -- S McCann; E Judge, K O'Brien, T Costlello; S Moonan, J Carr, C Reynolds; B Kermode, B Sharkey; A McDonnell, J Kermode, C Brannigan; J Murray, K Lynch, C Judge. Subs: I McManus for Sharkey (46), H McGinn for C Brannigan (49).

REF -- M Craven.

Irish Independent

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