Pat's see off fierce rivals
St Patrick's 2-7 Rathnew 0-8
St Pat's overcame the challenge of arch enemies Rathnew and took a huge step towards automatic quarter-final qualification in this Renault SFC Group C encounter at Joule Park Aughrim on Saturday evening.
Pat's seemed to have a little bit extra going forward and it was ultimately the goals of Thomas Kelly and midfielder Dean Healy which proved the difference in the end.
It was a proper derby game with neither side willing to give an inch to their opposite number.
Scores were hard to come by and hard won and it was far from a free-flowing game, with many fouls, turnovers and huge hits on both sides.
What it lacked in scores or free flowing-football it made up for in passion, intensity and endeavour from both the red and green and the blue side.
After a slow start, where Pat's failed to score in the opening 13 minutes and had to wait till 27 minutes for their first point it was the likes of Thomas Kelly at full forward, Paudge McWalter at wing forward and Jem Kavanagh at full back who were pivotal to the victory.
Although Rathnew were well in this game throughout it was notable that they lacked the same pace and running threats as their opponents and the injured Leighton Glynn as well as defensive duo Ross O'Brien and Jamie Snell were missed and would have injected some extra pace if nothing else.
This defeat will no doubt cut deep for the village men but it is still only July and they will be out for vengeance now in what they will hope to be a repeat of the the 2015 campaign where they lost to Pat's in the early rounds only to gain revenge in the championship final and lift Miley.
The game started at a hundred miles an hour and it was Rathnew who got out of the traps the quickest. Theo Smith was one of the leading reasons for this quick start as he fielded a couple of balls and drove at the Pat's defence.
It was from one of these Smith catches that the ball worked it's way to Eddie Doyle and the nimble Rathnew corner forward jinked inside his man to win a free which he dually converted himself to put Rathnew on the board.
Pat's were getting back well but in the early stages they were a bit ponderous in attack.
One example was going back and across the Rathnew 45 for about 30 seconds before centre forward Stephen Duffy decided he'd seen enough but unfortunately for him and Pat's his long-range shot drifted to the right.
Rathnew doubled their lead through centre back Nicky Mernagh after he roamed up field but it wasn't long before Pat's had their first score and first goal on the board.
After winning their own kick out Pat's quickly worked the ball up to Dean Healy who found himself with space 40 yards from goal.
A point was on and whether the Pat's midfielder went for the point only he knows. His outside of boot kick sailed over the head of Rathnew corner back David Jameson and into the grateful arms of Thomas Kelly, who had snuck in behind, and he made no mistake with a low finish to Peter Dignam's left from 10 yards.
Rathnew levelled through another Doyle free but after waiting another 14 minutes for a score Pat's finished the half strongly and brought a two-point lead into the dressing rooms as Jordan Pettigrew and Kelly (2) added points.
Two of these scores came directly from Jem Kavanagh bursting out in front of his man and winning the ball at full back and the last score was a thing of beauty as Kelly managed to land a score from thirty yards and a fair angle having been completely off balance and under severe pressure from Damien Power.
Sensing they had the momentum it was Pat's who came out flying at the start of the second half.
A swift move and ball over the top found Jordan Pettigrew completely unmarked about 12 yards from goal. The net seemed certain to bulge but his high pile-driver whisked past the post and wide as Rathnew could afford to breathe again.
Rathnew responded well as a long-range Eddie Doyle free and a trademark Staff punch from a high ball in brought the sides level for the third time with just under 20 minutes to play.
Paudge McWalter was brilliant all evening and took on his man at every opportunity and it was from one of these runs in off the left side that he kicked the lead point before Pat's bagged their crucial second goal on 45 minutes.
A turnover at midfield saw the ball played over the top to Thomas Kelly on the Rathnew 45. The Pat's full forward had one Rathnew man directly between him and the goal with midfielder Healy steaming up from behind.
Kelly seemed to jog up and tease the defender into moving before he delivered a perfectly timed pass to Healy who stormed in and finished low into the bottom right corner to put daylight between the sides.
Rathnew fought on valiantly and Mernagh and Doyle brought it back to a one score game but it was to be Pat's day as the impressive Johnny Delahunt and John Crowe put the icing on the cake and sealed a deserved five-point victory.
The result means that Pat's are in pole position for an automatic quarter-final place as they sit on three points with Coolkenno to come while Rathnew now face a crunch match with Baltinglass in their final game to get into the top two places.
Scorers - St Pats: Tommy Kelly 1-3 (0-1 free), Dean Healy 1-0, John Crowe, 0-1, Jordan Pettigrew 0-1, Paudge McWalter 0-1, Johnny Delahunt 0-1.
Rathnew: Eddie Doyle 0-5 (0-4 frees), Nicky Mernagh 0-2, James Stafford 0-1.
St Patrick's: Colm Byrne, Wayne Doyle, Jem Kavanagh, Ciarán Doyle, Paudge McWalter, Niall Donnelly, John Crowe, Dean Healy, Eamon Wolfe, Shane Murley, Stephen Duffy, Johnny Delahunt, Jordan Pettigrew, Tommy Kelly, Conor French. Subs: Paul O'Brien for Niall Donnelly (50 mins) Conor O'Brien for Jordan Pettigrew (55 mins), Emmet Cullen for Ciarán Doyle (55 mins).
Rathnew: Peter Dignam, David Jameson, Damien Power, Paul Merrigan, Chris Healy, Nicky Mernagh, John Manley, James Stafford, Theo Smith, Warren Kavanagh, Jody Merrigan, Graham Kavanagh, Eddie Doyle, Mark Doyle, Stephen Byrne. Subs: Enan Glynn for Graham Kavanagh (35 mins), Danny Staunton for Stephen Byrne (48 mins).