Éire Óg show class to win U-20 'B' title
Éire Óg 0-14 Rathnew 1-4
Éire Óg Greystones made a massive statement as to the health of their underage system by clinching the Under-20 'B' Football Championship title after a superb showing against Rathnew in Dunbur Park on Sunday afternoon last.
Some lovely football and sweetly taken scores helped them to get past a dogged Village side and the lifting of the Paudge Dooley Memorial Cup in this very competitive championship to follow on from the Minor 'A' victory earlier in the year suggests something of a golden age in the years ahead for the Greystones club.
Every single line of the Éire Óg team and their substitutes contributed hugely to this win. Defensively, aside from Sean Coffey's first-half goal when he punched home from a high ball, the Greystones men were not found wanting. Conor Browne pulled off some lovely saves and cleared up plenty of dangerous ball. His excellent point-blank save from Rathnew's Michael Doyle in the first half was surpassed by his reflex thwarting of Luke Corcoran's shot from close range which the Éire Óg netminder didn't see until the last second. It's on these excellent moments that championship victories are built.
In front of Browne, his six defenders battled bravely against a very capable Rathnew attack. The most telling stat of all is the one that shows that Rathnew failed to score in the second half until the into injury time. Brian Lawless and then Conor Nolan had the unenviable job of trying to curtail the influence of Sean Coffey at full-forward and for the most part they succeeded.
Andy Clarke and Luke Prendergast were busy throughout while team captain Eoghan McTague led superbly from centre-half back.
When your midfield returns a five-point haul it's fair to say that they have put in a decent shift. Conal Deeney and Fintan O'Shea were excellent all through this game with O'Shea taking the game by the scruff of the neck at key moments, grabbing the opening two scores of the game and the final score of the first half to send the Greystones men in leading Rathnew by 0-6 to 1-2.
Scores are valuable commodities in championship finals and when you have a free-taker of the caliber of Shaun Cranley you are off to a great start. The corner-forward bagged eight frees with his efforts from the ground proving mightily impressive on a December afternoon.
Where did it go wrong for Rathnew? Their reliance on the high ball down on top of Sean Coffey at times in this game went unrewarded as good defending, poor passing and saves left them with only the early goal to show for their efforts at the end of the game.
From the opening moments of the game the Rathnew sideline and supporters were angered by decisions made by referee Stephen Fagan. This feeling of discontent continued throughout the game and led to unnecessary insults being flung at the Baltinglass official.
It would be unfair to say the cause of Éire Óg's victory on the day was down to any errors made by any official. Rathnew's 10 wides and their failure to take their goal chances would be more valid reasons for their defeat. They will feel, however, that they might have had a penalty late in the first half for a suspected foot block, while Éire Óg's sixth point was extremely tight as it flew over the top of the upright from the boot of Fintan O'Shea and the calling back of the play when Rathnew looked through on goal in the second half for a suspected head injury to an Éire Óg player certainly did the Baltinglass official no favours in the eyes of the Rathnew supporters.
The Village side started like a train but only had two wides and a missed goal chance to show for their efforts by the time Fintan O'Shea breezed through their defence and lashed over the opening score of the game when a goal might well have been on.
The intention to hit Sean Coffey with high balls was blatantly obvious and with JT Moorehouse looking dominant at centre-half back it looked like we were in for a great spectacle.
O'Shea followed up his opener with a tasty effort after he had been fed by Eoighain O Lonaigh who showed nimble feet to get away from the tight-marking Jack Healy.
A pick up in the square by Andy Clarke allowed Ciaran Coffey the chance to open Rathnew's account as we neared the end of the first quarter and the talented midfielder wasn't going to miss from that range.
A period of poor shooting followed until Dylan Smith pointed a free after a foul on Sean Coffey to level the game after 21 minutes at 0-2 apiece.
Conal Deeney pushed Éire Óg back in front with a sweet score having profited from an intelligent O'Shea pass. JT Moorehouse showed his class when he helped Deeney back to his feet after the Rathnew centre half back had tried to block Deeney's effort.
But the goal threat from Rathnew was constant in the opening half and it finally materialised into a green flag when a bomb from Jenson Cox dropped down on top of Sean Coffey and the full-forward helped it home past Conor Browne to give Rathnew a 1-2 to 0-3 lead.
What followed was a key phase of the game. Rathnew would follow up the goal with two wides while Éire Óg's reaction to the goal was impressive. They introduced Daire Devine for Eoghan Potts after 25 minutes and watched as Fionn O'Carroll walloped the Rathnew crossbar a moment later.
Cranley grabbed his first and second points (both frees) while O'Shea notched his third to leave it 0-6 to 1-2. The Éire Óg management also switched Shaun Cranley with Dan Clarke with Fionn O'Sullivan and Tristan O'Toole following their men.
Cranley pointed a free that had been moved forward for dissent four minutes into the second half and then Conor Browne pulled off his superb reflex save from Luke Corcoran while Ciaran Coffey went wide from the resulting 45.
Tensions started to rise on and off the field. Cranley bagged the next two scores (both frees) before Deeney swept over a superb point and then Fionn O'Carroll pointed the score of the game after a sublime exchange of passes with substitute Sean Mason to make it 0-11 to 1-2.
Nothing was going right for Rathnew and it was 0-13 to 1-2 (two more Cranley frees) before Sean Coffey finally stopped the rot with a lovely score but it had all the hallmarks of being too little too late for the Village side.
A Ciaran Coffey free after 31 minutes completed the Rathnew scoring for the day before Cranley's eighth and final score of the day left the final tally reading 0-14 to 1-4 after a capable performance from a very talented young side.
Scorers - Éire Óg Greystones: Shaun Cranley 0-8 (8f), Fintan O'Shea 0-3, Conal Deeney 0-2, Fionn O'Carroll 0-1.
Rathnew: Ciaran Coffey 0-2 (2f), Sean Coffey 1-1, Dylan Smith 0-1 (f).
Éire Óg Greystones: Conor Browne; Conor Nolan, Brian Lawless, Andy Clarke; Luke Prendergast, Eoghan McTague, Eoghan Potts; Conal Deeney, Fintan O'Shea; Rory Lucy, Fionn O'Carroll, Dan Clarke; Cian O'Flaherty, Eoighain O Lonaigh, Shaun Cranley. Subs: Daire Devine for E Potts, Conor Fulham for D Clarke, Thade Shanahan for A Clarke, Eoin O'Neill for E O Lonaigh, Sean Mason for C O'Flaherty (inj), Gavin O'Shea for F O'Carroll.
Rathnew: Patrick Reynolds; Fionn O'Sullivan, Jack Healy, Charlie O'Brien; Tristan O'Toole, JT Moorehouse, Nicky Kearney; Ciaran Coffey, Gary Hughes; Jenson Cox, Sam O'Dowd, Luke Corcoran; Dylan Smith, Sean Coffey, Michael Doyle. Subs: Colin Synnott for N Kearney, Cian Hunter for J O'Connor, Ronan Earls for G Hughes.
Referee: Stephen Fagan (Baltinglass)