Friday 15 December 2017

Devilish Daniels does the business

The big question at half time in Aughrim with Coolkenno leading Blessington by 0-08 to 0-04 in the Senior football championship was would last year's Intermediate champions have the fitness levels to continue playing the energy sapping game that had disrupted and troubled Blessington in the opening half.

The answer, in the end, was that they didn't, but they also couldn't cope with Jonathan Daniels who was introduced at half time and who finished with 1-04, but nobody will want to draw Coolkenno for the next stage of the championship because they will be a very difficult opposition to break down for anyone.

Like the Hollywood game last year, this clash was a real headache for Blessington and Daniels and a superior level of fitness proved to be the perfect medication to overcoming the pain of the blanket defence.

But this wasn't 'puke football' in any shape or form. Coolkenno did drop deep and left only their full forward line in the Blessington half (in a straight line down the field), but they played an exciting brand of football, they attacked with eagerness, they sprayed diagonal ball for a time that caused serious problems for Blessington, they battled hard, and they defended very well (only one Blessington score from a free).

And yet for all their endeavour, there were moments in the first half when Blessington showed their potential in attack and had they bombed more ball down on top of Curtis Gerathy they might have reaped more rewards in the opening half but they chose to try move the ball up the field and more often than not they encountered very staunch Coolkenno resistance and lightening fast counter attacks that almost always involved the very impressive Colin Murphy, Jim Cush, and finally, the feisty Eamonn Rossiter.

Don Jackman was named at corner-forward but as expected he lined out at mid-field with Paul Keogh going to centre-half forward and Brian Rossiter slipping into corner-forward but this would all change once the ball was thrown in.

Eoin Keogh had the first wide of the game in the opening minutes after he was picked out by a tremendous ball from Anthony McLoughlin. Paul Murphy added the second wide moments later after a fine Coolkenno move but they made no such mistake a minute latyer when Jim Cush picked out the energetic Eamonn Rossiter at full-forward and he popped over the game's opening score.

Anthony McLoughlin was assuming free-taking duties for Blessington and the county star whipped over a fine free from 45 yards after four minutes to level matters early on after Mikey O'Connor had been fouled.

Shane Walker was given the difficult role of marking the young Blessington star and the Coolkenno corner-back done a fine job over the course of the game.

A fairly subdued Don Jackman returned Coolkenno to the lead with a free on six minutes and Brian Rossiter should have extended their lead a few seconds later after a poor Thomas Pender kick-out went to Jackman who found Rossiter who fired wide.

The capable looking Curtis Gerathy levelled matters again soon after and fine Blessington movement up the field saw Eoin Keogh bag his second with nine minutes on the clock.

Gerathy fired wide a moment later, then dropped one into the hands of John Corcoran and then sent a shot wide again and all within the space of a few minutes.

Eamonn Rossiter and Paul Murphy had points either side of an Anthony McLoughlin effort to leave the sides at four apiece but from here to the end of the first half it was all Coolkenno as they took the game to a Blessington team that just didn't look up for the fight it has to be said.

Conor Walker, Colin Murphy, Walker again, and Eamonn Rossiter (profiting from another poor Pender kick-out) all fired over points for the Coolkenno side to leave them leading 0-08 to 0-04 at the break.

Blessington introduced Jonathan Daniels for Sean Byrne for the second half and this is where the game completely changed.

Coolkenno were tiring after their superb shift in the opening half and there was no way they could cover the ground they needed to cover to keep this physically powerful Blessington side under wraps for another 30 minutes and with Daniels running directly at them they began to suffer.

They did very well for the opening three minutes but then Daniels notched his first score after nice play from Stephen Flanagan and Eoin Keogh.

Stevie Cush, who had a fine game at full-back, launced a Coolkenno attack but it floundered on the rock that is Kevin Hanlon at half-back and he launched a Blessington counter that found Daniels and he was in no mood for missing.

From distance and off his left, David Bootman pulled Blessington to within a point and then Eoin Keogh equalised before Daniels bagged another and then Paul McLoughlin blazed wide of John Corcoran's goal.

The speedy Mikey O'Connor finally lost the shadow known as Shane Walker to push Blessington out to a two-point lead before Conor Walker had a wide for Coolkenno and all this after only 11 minutes of the second half.

But Coolkenno were still very much in this game and they were defending brilliantly and a fine score from Don Jackman reduced the Blessington lead to a single point.

Along ball from David Boothman broke kindly for Curtis Gerathy and he lofted over a nice point.

Eamonn Rossiter had a goal chance afteddr 20 minutes of the second half but Peneder got down well to save and two minutes l ater Coolkenno tiredness gifted Daniels with the chance to add his fourth point and he didn't refuse.

And then the nail in the coffin. Paddy Dalton lost possession to Ronan Doyle, Doyle found Gerathy who found Mieky O'Connor all alone and he fisted across the goal to Daniels who palmed the ball into the net. 1-12 to 1-09 .

Eamonn Rossiter fired back with a point for Coolkenno and then David Cole added Coolkenno's final score with a point after 28 minutes. Eoin Keogh brought his side's tally to 1-13 with a great score thanks to Keogh's own running and that was pretty much that.

A fine second half from Blessington who look like a team that can, providing they shake the apparent lethargy they showed in the opening half, really feature at the business end this year's championship.

Coolkenno put in a superb shift in Aughrim, they played some excellent football, employed really intelligent tactics but fell short in the fitness department. This clash will stand to them though and if they get back a few players who were exam tied and if they play with the gusto they showed here who knows where they can go.

Scorers: Jonathan Daniels 1-04; Eoin Keogh 0-03; Curtis Gerathy 0-02; Anthony McLoughlin 0-02 (1f); David Boothman 0-01; Mikey O'Connor 0-01.

Eamonn Rossiter 0-04; Don Jackman 0-02 (1f); Conor Walker 0-02; Colin Murphy 0-01;

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