AGB ease to victory
AGB 4-17 Rathnew 1-04
Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney ended their year with silverware after a comprehensive victory over Rathnew in the Division 2 league final.
Both teams were assured of promotion in advance of the game.
AGB played with the aid of a big wind in the first half and built up a substantial lead, 2-06 to 1-01, by half time though they were also very wasteful, kicking eight wides during the half.
The AGB full forward line were given huge swathes of space inside the Rathnew 45 and ran the Rathnew full back line ragged and with the wind at their backs the AGB players could easily let the elements bring the ball to their intended target.
Cathal Kelleher gave Jay Devlin a hard time during the first half and scored two points along with kicking a couple wides. Had he had his shooting boots on he could have scored 2-02 or 3-01, depending on your point of view.
The wind played havoc with goalkeeper Anthony Doyle's kick outs for Rathnew which hung in the air and didn't go their intended distance. Cormac Hyland won a number of kick outs in the first half to launch attack after attack, with his work not always getting rewarded on the score board.
Their defending was very good, frustrating the Rathnew attack and limiting them to only a handful of chances in the first half.
If the Rathnew attack was ever too slow and gave AGB a chance to form a defensive unit their tackling was first class, often regaining possession or forcing Rathnew into blind alleyways.
Philly Murphy was the only Rathnew player to cause a problem, always an outlet for the ball and winning possession. Outside of him however no Rathnew player caused trouble.
The game was only seconds old when AGB struck, a Darragh Fitzgerald goal giving everyone a taste of what was on the menu. Kelleher was out in front to win the ball, play a one-two with Philip Healy and pass off for Fitzgerald to bundle the ball over the line.
Two minutes later Kelleher scored his first point when he blasted the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy. Fitzgerald, JP Hurley and Cormac O'Shea added points by the time Edward Doyle registered Rathnew's first point in the tenth minute.
AGB continued to dominate proceedings for the next fifteen minutes but they kicked five wides to ensure Rathnew weren't dead and buried too early. They did score 1-01 in that time, O'Shea with the goal while Kelleher flashed a shot just over the bar, but there was still a nagging feeling that they were potentially kicking the game away, especially when Rathnew would have the wind in the second half.
Rathnew's goal in the 26th minute added to that feeling with Stuart Murphy volleying the ball past Mervyn Travers in the goal when the defenders didn't deal with a dropping ball.
JP Hurley kicked over a point just before half time to leave it 2-06 to 1-01 at half time as memories of AGB's defeat to Avondale in the championship came rushing back to their supporters.
There was no repeat however and without the wind helping Rathnew at all in the second half and AGB finding their shooting boots the result was over long before full time. Their full back line dealt easily with any longs ball coming towards them while Mervyn Travers went short as often as he could with his kick outs to ensure they didn't hang in the air.
Rathnew never got a chance to kick a few scores to gain any momentum while AGB also emptied their bench with speedster Peter Hempenstall clocking up a nice 1-01 for himself.
They had a few more goal chances near the end while Ciaran Hyland showed his years of experience as a corner back to kick the ball over the bar when a goal seemed easier for the last score of the game.
Scorers - AGB: Darragh Fitzgerald 1-02; Cormac O'Shea, Peter Hempenstall 1-01; Philip Healy (3f) 0-04; JP Hurley, Cathal Kelleher 0-3; Christopher O'Brien 1-00; Tiernan McBride, Ciaran Hyland, Philip Gleeson 0-1 each.
Rathnew: Stuart Murphy 1-00; Edward Doyle (1f) 0-02; Philly Murphy, Jonny Byrne 0-01.
AGB: Mervyn Travers; Karl Kirwan, Christopher O'Brien, Jack Hamilton; Tiernan McBride, Cal Kelly, Ciaran Hyland; JP Hurley, Stephen Hurley; Darragh Fitzgerald, Philip Gleeson, Cormac Hyland; Cathal Kelleher, Philip Healy, Cormac O'Shea. Subs: Peter Hempenstall for Cormac Hyland (40 mins); Daire McBride for Cathal Kelleher, Danny O'Hare for Cal Kelly (both 45 mins); Padraig Kelleher for Tiernan McBride, James Tyrrell for Karl Kirwan (both 52 mins); Alan McBride for Philip Gleeson (55 mins).
Rathnew: Anthony Doyle; Paul Ronan, James Manley, Jay Devlin; Philly O'Neill, Dean Franey, Luke Corcoran; Stuart Murphy, Jonah Graham; Edward Doyle, Philly Murphy, Ronan Doyle; Ross Quinn, Josh Graham, Jonny Byrne. Subs: Dale Franey for Luke Corcoran (HT); Alan Clarke for Philly O'Neill, Michael Anthony Doyle for Stuart Murphy (both 42 mins, both BC).
Referee: John O'Brien