Chris Traynor’s men off to a winning start in Division 1
Éire Óg Greystones 1-10
Éire Óg Greystones left a bitterly cold Baltinglass with the warm feeling of a victory in their hearts and two important Division 1 league points in their pockets following a 1-10 to 1-7 win over an experimental home side.
Chris Traynor’s men never really looked like being caught by Kevin O’Brien’s charges, with the Greystones men scoring all their 1-10 from play while their opponents could only manage 1-1, six of their 1-7 coming from frees.
The result of a league game under lights in early March won’t have anyone drawing conclusions about the season ahead, but the Éire Óg contingent will certainly be the ones bouncing into training and relishing the visit of Blessington on March 24, while Baltinglass will be keen to put this one behind them ahead of their journey to Bray on the same night to face a side who came away from Merrymeeting with a narrow win over Rathnew in their opening joust.
It was the visitors who were catching the eye early on, opening up a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after 20 minutes with one of those points, the first, so painfully close to being a goal for Darren Hayden but for the defensive class of Sean Parke who got back to divert the Éire Óg full-forward’s effort over the crossbar after he had won a long ball in behind his marker.
Points from the excellent Dan Keane, Danny Wood and the classy Fionn O’Carroll pushed the visitors out to 0-4 to 0-0 ahead while they also clocked up five wides in that time as they completely outplayed the home side.
Baltinglass had registered three wides and dropped one short, but they were given a massive boost after 21 minutes when a long ball from Patrick Whelan to Lee Furlong saw the Baltinglass attacker slot home past Billy Norman as Kevin O’Brien urged his players to move the ball faster.
Sean O’Brien leveled the game from a free after 24 but Éire Óg struck back through Gavin O’Shea and Dan Keane as they put serious pressure on the Baltinglass restarts.
Kevin Murphy struck back for Baltinglass off his left, but Cillian Keane replied with a deadly effort off his right. Patient play from the home side ended with Daniel Kelly dropping over the first of his five frees right before referee Kieron Kenny sounded the half-time whistle with Éire Óg 0-7 to 1-3 ahead.
Chris Traynor’s men hit the ground running from the start of the second half, Gavin O’Shea firing over after being supplied by Fionn O’Carroll who was absolutely superb at centre-back.
They followed this with a sweet point from Danny Wood who was picked out by the adventurous Stephen ‘Chester’ Kelly before Conor Fulham went wide with a goal chance.
The Baltinglass shooting continued to let them down, with two wides and a shot dropped short to Billy Norman doing nothing to help their cause and they were in serious trouble when Fionn O’Carroll started and finished a stunning Éire Óg move that ended with him blasting home past William Rogers in the Baltinglass goal.
Éire Óg had broken down their own kick-out to the galloping O’Carroll. He exchanged with Dan Keane and slotted home sweetly to make it 1-9 to 1-3.
Kevin O’Brien made four changes in the second half, two at the break and two not long after the goal, and they did steady and win the last quarter 0-4 to 0-1, with Daniel Kelly firing over all the scores from frees, while Cillian Keane curled over Éire Óg’s last point after 53.
Leaving Baltinglass with a pair of league points is never an easy thing to do but Éire Óg fully deserved this win.
A frustrating evening for Kevin O’Brien, but he managed to have a good look at plenty of players while some big names are unavailable for various reasons.
Baltinglass: William Rogers; Sean Parke, Liam Cullen, Stephen Heaslip; Tadhg O’Toole, Patrick Kirwan, Jason Steed; Seán Doody, Pat Burke; Kevin Murphy (0-1), Patrick Whelan, Niall O’Connor; Daniel Kelly (0-5, 5f), Sean O’Brien (0-1, f), Lee Furlong (1-0). Subs: Jack Fleming, Michael Dowling for J Steed (H/T), Jason Kenny for S O’Brien (45), Georgan Peggs for L Furlong (45), Hugh O’Toole for S Parke (57).
Éire Óg Greystones: Billy Norman; Luke Prendergast, Stephen Kelly, Daire Devine; Padraic O’Keeffe, Fionn O’Carroll (1-1), Conall Deeney; Dominic O’Brien, Darragh Shiels; Danny Wood (0-2), Dan Keane (0-2), Gavin O’Shea (0-2); Cillian Keane (0-2), Darren Hayden (0-1), Conor Fulham. Subs: David Prendergast for C Fulham (53), Brian Waldron for C Deeney (56).
Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely)