Wednesday 13 December 2017


The champions, Rathnew, kicked off the first defence of their title when they took on Tinahely at Aughrim on Sunday.

The champions, Rathnew, kicked off the first defence of their title when they took on Tinahely at Aughrim on Sunday.

A bit like Laois in Croke Park, Tinahely put up a brave display against the hotly favoured holders for three quarters of the way but ran out of steam in the closing stages of this entertaining game.

Rathnew were short of the Glynn brothers and Damien Power and were more than happy to get this stiff test behind them.

While a number of their young players showed up well they were still depending on great veteran, Tommy Gill, to make and take scores up front.

However their man of the match was Edward Doyle at right half forward. He was on fire and sent over some great points from play as well as being deadly on the frees that he took.

This was a good day also for the young players on the Tinahely team, even if they did not manage to last the hour or crown their efforts with victory. On this display they could be a force to be reckoned with in the losers group.

Points by Paddy O'Rourke and Alan Dillon gave Tinahely an early lead but a point by Ed Doyle and another from a free by Gill brought the sides level for the first time after 15 minutes.

Gill had a point from play in the 17th minute to put the champions in front and a minute later county Minor Stephen Cruise was in to finish off the first goal of the match following good work by Mark Doyle and James Stafford.

That looked like a hammer blow for Tinahely but they recovered quickly and when teenager Alan Dillon scored a fine goal the match was wide open again and a surprise looked just about possible.

Rathnew got motoring again and another of their big hitters Nicky Mernagh landed two quick points. Tinahely were still doing well in general play and overlapping wing back Shane Hogan and the hard working Paddy O'Rourke landed points, Edward Doyle closed the first half scoring with two more points - the second one set up when big midfielder James Stafford boxed a ball forward from midfield with great force. That put Rathnew in front again as the first half came to a close.

The half time score was Rathnew 1-7, Tinahely 1-5 - a game still wide open.

Tinahely drew level twice more early in the second half - the first time when Jason Cush sent over a snap shot and Alan Dillon had good point from play in the third and fourth minutes and again when Cush replied quickly to a Edward Doyle point for Rathnew.

A long run out of defence by Jamie Snell started another Rathnew attack which ended with Gill winning and pointing a free.

The turning point of the match came in the 12th minute of the half. Rathnew won a 45 but Theo Smith's kick dropped short and was broken down by a Tinahely fist. The lurking Nicky Mernagh gathered the breaking ball and blasted the net and the holders were on their way.

However, 10 minutes passed before Smith got their next score.

Then a brace of points be Ed Doyle and another from play by Gill stretched the lead.

Tinahely did not throw in the towel, points from Alan Nolan, a mighty long range effort by David Dillon and another from an over lapping wing back Tony Darcy kept then in touch.

However, Rathnew pulled away to seal victory with points by Theo Smith from a 45 and Mernagh from play. Paddy O'Rourke one of Tinahely's young stars had a late consolation point for his side.

Rathnew will be happy with a nice six-point win to take them into the second round and with their injured players back will still be a force to be reckoned with in the closing stages of the championship. Tinahely will be hoping for a good draw in the losers group.


Rathnew - Nicky Mernagh 1-3; Stephen Cruise 1-0; Edward Doyle 0-6;Tommy Gill 0-4; Theo Smith 0-2.

Tinahely - Alan Dillon 1-2; Paddy O'Rourke 0-4; Jason Cush 0-2; Shane Hogan, Alan Nolan, David Dillon and Tony Darcy 0-01 each.

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