HOSTS Rathgarogue-Cushinstown took top spot in Group B of the Enniscorthy Farm Systems Junior ‘A’ football championship with a hard-earned victory over Clongeen on Sunday.
The home side were clear favourites going into the game and only needed a draw to secure a spot in the quarter-final proper, but they were made to fight all the way to the end by a gutsy visiting squad.
Clongeen got off to a solid start with early points from Richie Rochford, Collie Byrne and Cian Murphy-Kehoe, but Rathgarogue-Cushinstown were making the most of their attacks too and moved into a 2-6 to 1-3 lead on the back of goals from Mark Carroll and Gary Porter.
The Clongeen goal was created by veteran Collie Byrne and finished to the net by James Curtis as the underdogs kept in touch.
With Robert Kehoe and Luke O’Connor racking up the scores, Rathgarogue-Cushinstown eventually went in leading by 2-9 to 1-3.
The second-half had plenty of goalmouth action but Paul O’Grady, Robbie Rochford and Conor McGee all raised white flags to make it 3-9 to 1-6.
With Shane O’Connor rattling in a brace of majors and Luke O’Connor adding another , Rathgarogue-Cushinstown kept the scoreboard moving.
Willie McDonald’s brace and an O’Grady point kept Clongeen ticking over while Robert Kehoe added a point at the other end (5-10 to 1-9).
Clongeen finished the game with their best form. Nigel Kehoe and Cathal Murphy Snr. netted, and the latter added a point as did McDonald, but they had left themselves with too much to do and Rathgarogue-Cushinstown held on.
While Rathgarogue-Cushinstown will now have the week off as they wait on their last eight opponents, Clongeen have the opportunity to move into the quarter-finals themselves if they can get the better of another local rival in Adamstown at the weekend.
That is the undoubted pick of the preliminary quarter-final games.
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown: Fionn Slattery; Thomas McGrath, Pádraig McGrath, Pat Kehoe; Aodhán Slattery, Chris Kent, Shane O’Connor (2-1); Ricky McGrath, Ian Kennedy; Mark Carroll (1-0), Robert Kehoe (0-3), Jack Murphy (0-1); Gary Porter (1-1), Luke O’Connor (1-4), Diarmuid Somers. Subs. - Eoghan Devereux for Kent, Eoghan Whelan for Murphy, Kent for Porter.
Clongeen: Kieran Treacy; Patrick Whelan, Stephen Curtis, Conor McGee (0-1); Stephen Dundon, Páraic Curtis, Cathal Murphy; Ger Foxe, Paul O’Grady (0-2); Robbie Rochford (0-1), Cian Murphy-Kehoe (0-1), Cathal Murphy Snr. (1-1); Richard Rochford (0-1), Collie Byrne (0-1), James Curtis (1-0). Subs. - Nigel Kehoe (1-0) for Byrne, Willie McDonald (0-3) for Richard Rochford, Daniel O’Grady for P. Curtis.
Referee: Jimmy Heavey.