Sunday 19 January 2020

Rathnew hand Avonmore A their first defeat of season

Soccer, WDFL Premier: Rathnew 3 Avonmore A 0

Josh Graham evades the tackles of Eugene Dunne (right) and Adam Tuke (left)
Josh Graham evades the tackles of Eugene Dunne (right) and Adam Tuke (left)

Andrew Ryan at Shamrock Park

Rathnew have brought Avonmore's unbeaten start to the Andy McEvoy Premier Division to an emphatic end, after goals from Gary Byrne, Jody Merrigan, and Eoin Doyle handed the excellent home side a stunning win at Shamrock Park.

A first-half Byrne goal was followed up by further strikes from Merrigan and Doyle in the second-half, while Avonmore found themselves repelled by disciplined performances from Jonah Graham, Theo Smyth, Dean Franey in the Rathnew rearguard.

The wind-swept Shamrock Park was the stage for Avonmore's continued quest for Wicklow's top tier title. Up until Sunday morning, they had gone unbeaten in the league, and a win would have propelled them above St. Peter's at the top of the division.

As would be made evident over the course of the 90 minutes, Rathnew took that script and flipped it upside down with a tremendous, composed, and clinical showing.

Both teams traded chances throughout an exciting opening 45 minutes. However, it would be the Rathdrum club that would enjoy the better opportunities early on. Adam Tuke escaped Dean Franey down the left-hand side, before his subsequent cross found Mark Cullen at the back post, only for his effort at an acute angle to go wide.

Other than that and a Fiachra Ryan half-chance, Avonmore's dominance of possession wasn't translated into clear-cut chances, as Jonah Graham, Theo Smyth, and Dean Franey blocked any and all substantial advances on the Rathnew goal.

As Avonmore grew frustrated, Rathnew were starting to gain a foothold in proceedings, and would end up opening the score just past the half hour mark.

A long ball up the field from Theo Smyth broke to Gary Byrne on the right-hand side, where he volleyed the ball past the Avonmore goalkeeper to give the hosts the one-goal lead, which they would hold onto into the half-time break.

Rather than rest on their laurels, Rathnew went in search of more goals in the second-half to put the game to bed. On 53 minutes, Eoin Doyle's corner was knocked down into the path of Jonah Graham, who saw his effort brilliantly saved by Jason Porter.

It was a second 45 minutes that was devoid of many clear-cut opportunities for the duration of its run-time, but Rathnew were very much the team in the ascendancy. With the back four well in control of an Avonmore attacking line that was running out of ideas, the Village introduced Josh Graham to the left-wing, and it was his skilful footwork that led to his team netting the second goal.

Graham's trickery drew a foul down the left-hand side, presenting Franey with the chance to swing an enticing free-kick into the area, where Jody Merrigan headed home at the back post.

2-0 became 3-0 just five minutes later. Once again, it was Josh Graham who was brought down in the middle of midfield. The resulting set-piece dropped to Eoin Doyle who, after his initial effort was blocked away, fired the follow-up into the bottom corner to put the game to bed with 15 minutes still to play.

The remaining portion of the game was played at Rathnew's pace, as Avonmore were restricted to a pair of harmless snapshots from substitute Johnny Arthur. The final whistle inevitably blew soon thereafter, handing the home side the statement win over the visitors, who know lie third in the table behind St. Peter's and Glencormac.

Rathnew: Jason Devlin, Jonah Graham, Dean Franey, Theo Smith, Mark Kearney, Gary Byrne, Eddie Doyle, Shawn Paul Dunne, Eoin Doyle, John T. Hayden, Jody Merrigan. Subs used: Josh Graham.

Avonmore A: Jason Porter, Callum Dersey, James Byrne, Mark Miley, Danny Byrne, Cian O'Hannain, Adam Tuke, Ryan Cahill, Fiachra Ryan, Eugene Dunne, Mark Cullen. Subs used: Cody Reid, Johnny Arthur, Ryan Kenny.

Referee: David Jameson.

Bray People