Rathnew hold out for victory
Rathnew 1-09 Stratford/G 0-10
Rathnew just about overcame the challenge of Stratford on a dull and drizzly Friday evening in Rathnew in this Division 2 football league clash.
The conditions reflected the football on show as, in truth, it was a poor enough spectacle. Rathnew just about deserved their victory but Stratford will rue missed opportunities in the second half as a late fight back, where they scored the last four points, just came up short.
It was the men in maroon who got out of the traps quickest as Lar McGrath kicked a good score, after Stratford had worked the ball patiently up from their back line. That was to be the last time Stratford would lead though as a long searching ball from midfield found Edward 'Turkey' Doyle completely unmarked 15 yards out and the veteran was in no mood for turning down the opportunity as he clinically finished low and hard to the left of James Barrett to give the village the lead.
Rathnew looked like they may pull away as first Ross Quinn and then Doyle from a free, following a mix up in the Stratford box, put them four points ahead but the flow of scores seemed to dry up thereafter.
The direct running of Michael Manley caused Rathnew problems throughout and the Stratford midfielder added one from play before Michael Hanbridge converted a close range free after an advantage play came to nothing.
Rathnew nearly added a second goal when Séamas Cosgrove was put through. Unfortunately for him James Barret was on hand to make a miraculous save from his close range effort.
Rathnew wouldn't come away from the attack empty handed however as Doyle struck a 45 sweetly through the uprights to bring a pretty drab opening period to a close.
Neither side could get into a decent rhythm in the first half as although Kieran Byrne was working the play well for Stratford they struggled to create opportunities while Rathnew were somewhat wayward with their shooting with the wind at their backs.
Things did liven upon the restart. Rathnew came out all guns blazing and added two points in as many minutes to put them 5 points up.
In a game that was quite low scoring it seemed like a big lead but 5 minutes in Stratford had a golden opportunity to reduce the lead to 2.
In a scenario identical to Rathnew's goal in the first half corner forward Tom Sweeney found himself unmarked, through on goal after a long ball over the top. Unfortunately for both he and Stratford he couldn't keep his effort down as he blazed over for a point.
The sides exchanged the next 4 scores before Rathnew broke the trend and hit two in a row, including another Doyle 45, against the wind to leave 6 points in it with just 10 minutes remaining.
To Stratford's credit they didn't lie down and battled valiantly to the end as wave after wave of attack came at the Rathnew defence. Centre back Eoin O'Neill and then Matthew Manley attacked down the centre at pace and were rewarded with two good scores before Shane Byrne converted a close in free to leave 3 in it with a couple of minutes to go.
Stratford may look back and rue this one as a missed opportunity to snatch at least a draw as they missed a number of scoreable chances both from play and placed balls that would have put further pressure on Rathnew. Colin Byrne finished the scoring for them but it was too little too late as they whistle blew from the resultant kick out.
There were strong performances on both sides with midfielders Stuart Murphy of Rathnew and Kieran Byrne of Stratford particularly standing out.
Scorers - Rathnew: Edward Doyle 1-4 (0-2 Frees, 0-2 45's), Jonah Graham 0-2, Ross Quinn 0-1, Philly Murphy 0-1, Séamas Cosgrove 0-1.
Stratford: Matthew Manley 0-2, Shane Byrne 0-2 (0-2 Frees), Lar McGrath 0-1, Michael Hanbridge 0-1, Tom Sweeney 0-1, Jason Bolger 0-1, Eoin O'Neill 0-1, Colin Byrne 0-1.
Rathnew: Mick Nolan; David Jameson, James Manley, Patrick O'Connor; Philip O'Neill, Gary Byrne, Jamie O'Connor; Stuart Murphy, Jonah Graham; Edward Doyle, Philly Murphy, Séamas Cosgrove; Danny Staunton, Jordon Graham, Ross Quinn. Subs: Jason Devlin for Séamas Cosgrove (55 mins), Johnny Healy for Jordon Graham (59 mins).
Stratford: James Barrett; David Cush, Marcus Hanbridge, Adam Doyle; Manus Keane, Eoin O'Neill, Michael Mangan; Matthew Manley, Kieran Byrne; Colin Byrne, Lar McGrath, Shane Byrne; Tom Sweeney, Diarmuid Cronin, Michael Hanbridge. Subs: Jason Bolger for Tom Sweeney (5 mins), Tom Sweeney for Diarmuid Cronin (15 mins), Kevin Bracken for Tom Sweeney (42 mins).
Referee: Philip Bracken