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Sam Thompson causes terror as Éire Óg win Division 1A league title

Second-half blitz condemns Coolkenno to relegation

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The Éire Óg Greystones team and mentors after their victory over Coolkenno in Coolkenno.

The Éire Óg Greystones team and mentors after their victory over Coolkenno in Coolkenno.

Dan Keane, referee Kieron Kenny and Bobby Doyle ahead of the Division 1A meeting of Éire Óg and Coolkenno.

Dan Keane, referee Kieron Kenny and Bobby Doyle ahead of the Division 1A meeting of Éire Óg and Coolkenno.

Éire Óg's Sam Thompson fires over a fine point during the clash with Coolkenno.

Éire Óg's Sam Thompson fires over a fine point during the clash with Coolkenno.

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The Éire Óg Greystones team and mentors after their victory over Coolkenno in Coolkenno.

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Éire Og Greystones 6-11

Coolkenno 1-8

A stunning 4-1 from the boot of Sam Thompson in the second half of this SFL Division 1A clash in Coolkenno on Sunday morning helped secure the league title for Éire Óg Greystones while condemning the home side to relegation to Division 2 for 2023.

Thompson was on fire inside for the visitors in the second half, with Coolkenno making life as difficult as possible for them in the opening half and only trailing Éire Óg by three at the break, 2-6 to 1-6.

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A glance at the table before the game suggested that Coolkenno had no hope of survival given that Kilcoole had harvested four points when beating Carnew on Saturday and thus moving to 11, four clear of Coolkenno on seven.

However, sources claimed that efforts were underway to get the game between Coolkenno and Bray, that was supposed to have been played on March 27, refixed, meaning that if Coolkenno were to get the better of Éire Óg and subsequently Bray Emmets and vastly improve their score difference then they would maintain their status and Kilcoole would make the drop. Covid had caused Coolkenno to be unable to field for that game and on the Wicklow GAA website it has been recorded as a walkover.

Any suggestions that Éire Óg were going to coast to a league crown when Darragh Byrne threw in the ball at 11am were very quickly dismissed and the home side led by 1-2 to 0-2 after 12, the goal from corner-back Willie Doyle after excellent work from John Gregan, and points from Dan O’Neill (mark) and Conor Doyle from a tight angle.

Éire Óg got off the mark through full-forward Darren Hayden and a wicked score from Dan Keane.

The visitors were deploying ‘Chester’ Kelly as a sweeper while Hayden caused Bob Keogh headaches first before having Philip Timmons switched over.

The first half was enjoyable to watch as both sides looked for holes and were patient in their build up, but it was Éire Óg who could cause the most damage and they led by the 18th minute thanks to a point from Danny Wood and a goal from Hayden after excellent work by Shaun Cranley and Thompson.

Cranley was a very significant player for Éire Óg on Sunday. Lining out at centre half-forward, the dual player worked like a demon throughout the game and some of his passes, especially in the first half, were absolutely superb. As well as Cranley performing well, Darragh Shiel had an excellent game from half-back.

Coolkenno were battling hard themselves at this stage. Eamonn Rossiter was his usual workaholic self, Philip Timmons was doing his best on Hayden, Cathal Rossiter was looking useful, and John Gregan was toiling hard.

But they suffered a bad blow after 22 minutes when a sublime low ball across the Coolkenno square from Danny Wood found Dan Keane who finished home to the back of Colin Murphy’s net to make it 2-4 to 1-3. Although, they also lost midfielder Brendan Cunningham to injury around this time, being replaced by Mick Cannon.

Coolkenno rallied bravely after the goal with points from Conor Walker (mark) and a sweet score from Eamonn Rossiter to close the gap to two points but an outrageous theft of possession by Darren Hayden right in front of the Coolkenno goal saw him loft over a point he had no right to and leave the tally at 2-15 to 1-5.

A sweet point from Dave Rooney pushed Éire Óg four clear, but a free won by Liam O’Neill was converted by Pauric Murray and the sides retired with Éire Óg leading by 2-6 to 1-6 and nothing certain other than Coolkenno would need a massive second half if they were secure a win.

And they delivered something along those lines for the opening nine minutes of the second half, showing greater hunger and desire around the breaking ball although it must be said that Éire Óg were conspiring in their own frustrations by kicking four wides during that time.

The management pulled Darren Hayden out to the 45 and moved Shaun Cranley in to join Thompson and from that moment Thompson caused absolute havoc.

He collected a long ball, rounded his man and fired home past Murphy with nine gone. He pointed a moment later. He robbed a poor Coolkenno restart after 11 and walloped home and he lashed the ball to the bottom corner of the net after 18 to make it 5-8 to 1-7.

A pointed free from Hayden added to Coolkenno’s woes but the final nail arrived when Danny Wood overturned Coolkenno out the field and two passes later Thompson had his fourth and Éire Óg’s sixth goal with 24 on the clock.

A point from the lively Gavin O’Shea and a converted free from Eamonn Rossiter completed the scoring and when the final whistle sounded it was Éire Óg who had secured their passage back to Division 1 football.

Their next step will be a return to the Senior championship. A long road ahead before they can achieve that dream, but no team will want to face this well organised and very fit outfit.

Coolkenno will regroup. They were without James Gregan, Eoghan Dolan and Paddy Dalton for this game and will no doubt be ready and waiting for Annacurra when their championship fixture comes around.

Éire Óg Greystones: Billy Norman; Fionn O’Carroll, Peter Keane, James Wood; Darragh Shiel, David Dunne, Dave Rooney (0-1); Domo O’Brien, Brendan Cunningham; Dan Keane (1-2), Shaun Cranley (0-2), Danny Wood (0-1); Sam Thompson (4-1), Darren Hayden (1-3, 1f), Stephen Kelly. Subs: Mick Cannon for B Cunningham (22, inj), Dan Clarke for D O’Brien (47), Gavin O’Shea (0-1) for D Shiel (47), Conor Browne for B Norman (49), Eoin McTague for S Kelly (53).

Coolkenno: Colin Murphy; William Doyle (1-0), Bob Keogh, Philip Timmons; Liam O’Neill, Jim Cushe, Cathal Rossiter; Conor Doyle (0-1), Niall Bailey; John Gregan, Conor Walker (0-1, m), Dan O’Neill (0-1, m); Pauric Murray (0-1, f), Paul Murphy, Eamonn Rossiter (0-3, 2f). Subs: Cormac Byrne for W Doyle (34).

Referee: Darragh Byrne (Ballymanus)


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