St. Nicholas 3-14 Baltinglass 1-7
St. Nicholas put in a super second half showing as they marched on into the Peter Keogh U-19 ‘A; football championship semi-finals with a convincing win over Baltinglass on Sunday morning last.
The hosts were unbeaten going into the final group game and a draw was all they required, but the were short the services of James Kirwan and Robert McHugh while the visitors needed to win by at least seven points to make the knockout stages.
While over in Blessington another game was in progress, with Blessington also in the hunt for a semi-final berth, so every score was crucial in this group of death, in fact the three teams finished on four league points, with Blessington edging top spot on score difference by two points over St. Nicholas, who take the second place out of this group over Balto.
It was a bitterly cold but dry morning in Baltinglass,with fairly good underfoot conditions, the large attendance were kept on the edge of their seats throughout the sixty odd minutes.
St. Nicholas led 2-4 to 1-3 in a cagey opening half. Plenty of goal chances were created by both sides, Jamie Furlong, Tom Keogh and Jack Kenny were a handful for the visitors but Nick’s had some fine showings from Cian Deering, Conor Manifold and Joe Mills along with their midfielders, who were a constant threat over the sixty odd minutes.
Balto won the toss and elected to play with the aid of a strong breeze into the hospital end of the grounds. Baltinglass started the brighter but could not convert it onto the scoreboard early on.
They duly opened the scoring in the seventh minute after a patient build-up, with a number of well-worked hand passes ending up with Jamie Furlong splitting the uprights from the 21 metre line.
Nick’s replied immediately to open their account as the dynamic Cian Deering cut up along the wing, shirking three defenders and firing over an equalising point.
Joe Mills and Adam Kavanagh traded points over the next couple of passages of play. We had a brace of majors over the next two minutes, Liam Metcalfe cut a devastating solo-run through the heart of the Baltinglass rearguard,before the midfielder finished smartly to the bottom right hand corner, to close out the opening quarter, 0-2 to 1-2.
Jack Kenny won possession of the resultant kick-out and played a sublime pass into Jamie Furlong on the edge of the large parrallelogram. Furlong’s effort was like a heat seeking cruise missile, a sweet left-footed shot over the advancing goalie that dipped under the crossbar, bulging the net, to tie matters up again.
Again Cian Deering restored the lead for the visitors with a well-executed point after some fine work from Oisin O’Friel around the midfield sector.
Tom Keogh and Joe Mills (free) traded points as there was no separating either side in this highly entertaining opening half.
Baltinglass won a 45, which was taken by Jack Kenny, the dropping ball nearly caught James Walshe out in the sunlight, as the size 5 dropped dangerously under the crossbar where the goalie got to clear the ball at the second time of asking. The saints from Conor Manifold worked the ball up the field into Eoin Sheridan whose shot nestled into the bottom right-hand corner before the half-time whistle sounded as the scoreboard read 1-3 to 2-4 in favour of the saints at the interval.
St. Nicholas restarted on the front foot, firing over a brace of unanswered points in the opening exchanges from Rory Martin and wing-back Cian Deering, harvesting his hat-trick point after another trademark run.
Tom Keogh, who covered every blade of grass on the pitch, linked up with Jack Kenny, the midfielder cut a track up the pitch playing a sweet one-two with Jamie Furlong, however, James Walshe brilliantly dived to his right to clear the ball from crossing the goaline to deny Kenny a green flag. A point did follow from the rebound, with the impressive Furlong tapping over for a white flag.
Another brace of points were tallied by the visitors to stretch out the lead. Conor Manifold, who was having a fine game, had a great goal chance moments later, however, Jamie Farnon brought of a mighty save to deny Nick’s a killer goal.
Sub Matt Miley cursed his luck as he miscued from another close in goal chance, the hosts broke up the field and Tom Keogh rifled over a brace of points inside a minute, to cut into the deficit, 1-7 to 2-9.
Nick’s replied with a point from Ross Sheridan after another Matt Miley goal chance was cleared beforehand.
The visitors pressed on as they needed to win by at least seven points to make the semis.
Eoin Sheridan pointed before Matt Miley sidefooted two defenders and with his third attempt at goal he made no mistake as he rifled home from close range to the sounds of huge approval from the St. Nicholas following in the stand, to lead by ten with three minutes left.
Baltinglass went in search of a badly-needed score and had a brace of one on one goal chances going into the dying embers. However, neither shot was on target and they cruelly bowed out on score difference as Joe Mills (2) and Jack Reid pointed to close out the game to proceed to the semis, where they will meet the winners of the Eire Og Greystones versus An Tochar game.
Baltinglass: Jamie Farnon; Geordan Peggs, Hugh O’Toole, Adam Keogh; Ross Nolan, James Fleming, Jake Doyle; Niall O’Connor, Jack Kenny; Jack Bookle, Tom Keogh (0-3), Adam Kavanagh (0-1); Matthew Fisher, Jamie Furlong (1-3,1f), Conor Stephenson. Subs: Ashton Pender for J.Bookle (54)
St Nicholas: James Walshe; Cian Fox, Rory Martin (0-1), Ronan Kelly; Dylan Whyte, Mark Murtagh, Cian Deering (0-3); Liam Metcalfe (1-0), Oisin O’Friel; Ross Sheridan (0-1), Jack Reid (0-1), Conor Manifold; Sean Doyle (0-1), Eoin Sheridan (1-2), Joe Mills (0-5,2f). Subs: Matt Miley (1-0) for R.Sheridan (38),
Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely).