Annacurra hold on
GAA: division 1A - Annacurra 2-8 Bray Emmets 0-12
Martin Ging's Annacurra secured their first league win of the season thanks to this narrow victory over Bray Emmets under lights last Friday evening in horrid conditions.
This was a thoroughly entertaining game of football, played at an impressive pace considering the elements with superb scores notched up throughout and some very interesting tactical battles all over the field.
Annacurra's defensive ruggedness and resolve has to be given credit for helping them bring a halt to their worrying run of four straight defeats because at times in this game, especially in the first half, the Bray men looked more than capable of running riot; their six-point salvo in a matter of minutes immediately after Annacurra's opening score sending shockwaves through the home support as the rain fell steadily from the April night sky.
Annacurra's two goals, coming either side of that scoring blitz from Bray, kept them alive in this game in the opening quarter. It was corner-forward Max Molloy who found the back of Tadhg Doran's net within the opening moments of the game for what looked like the perfect start for Martin Ging's men.
The home side deployed Alan Byrne at full-forward and had a strong looking skeleton with Shane O'Neill at full-back, Martin O'Brien at six, Jon Hynes and county man Gearoid Murphy at midfield, Ian McDonald at 11 and Frank Clune in a roaming role from his corner-forward position. Throw in the abrasively determined Shane McAllister and Liam Moules in the corner-back positions, Dean Barnes and Paul McDonald at half-back, Cian Moules and Glen Austin and 10 and 12 and the aforementioned Max Molloy at 15 and you had a very decent side guaranteed to engage in battle.
Bray Emmets recovered from the concession of that early goal superbly. The north Wicklow side are brimming with athleticism and have some very talented operators all over the field with plenty more to return in the future.
A full-back line of Mark Linehan, Conor O'Doherty and Ciaran McKay gave very little away cheaply.
The performances of Ronan Twohig and Cathal Ó Dullacháin in that opening half were excellent while Des Kelly worked hard to limit the influence of Ian McDonald.
Eoin McCormack and Darragh Rochford were ample opponents of Jon Hynes and Gearoid Murphy in the middle of the field while Marc Lennon, Andrew Conway and Cian Lohan worked hard throughout, with Lohan banging over three beautiful points in a row early in that first half.
Corner-forward David Haughton drifted out the field with Liam Moules following while Cathal McGee and Niall McGraynor looked to do damage inside.
A Des Kelly free opened Bray's account after a foul on Andrew Conway by Shane McAllister and then Lohan's three points came like a string of punches to the side of Annacurra's head over the course of 120 seconds.
These were followed swiftly by two beautiful Niall McGraynor scores as Bray Emmets exploited a vulnerability in the Annacurra defence with their strong running from their half-back line and midfielders.
Annacurra steadied their ship and began to cause Bray problems of their own; Glen Austin's shot blocked out for a 45 that would result in another 45 which Gearoid Murphy drifted between the posts like a poet writing exquisite stanzas on a page.
And then came the move of the game. It was simply stunning to witness. Murphy gathered a ball around the middle and sent a missile off the outside of his right boot diagonally in to Alan Byrne. The clever Byrne flicked on to Ian McDonald who found the back of the net for what was a huge boost for the home side and pushed them ahead by 2-1 to 0-6 after 12 minutes.
Buoyed by this major, Annacurra pushed on. A Frank Clune free was followed by a placed ball from Gearoid Murphy and the game was now turned on its head.
Bray rallied again. Their movement up the field was at times very impressive and they tore Annacurra apart with a sweet ball from Marc Lennon to McGraynor who found himself through with Bob Fitzgerald to beat. McGraynor's shot was at a decent height for the keeper but Fitzgerald's save was still superb and, in terms of the end result of this game, absolutely huge.
Annacurra led by 2-4 to 0-7 at the break, glen Austin from play and a McGraynor free bringing the curtain down on a thoroughly entertaining first half.
The opening exchanges of the second half were swift. A lovely move up the field by Bray Emmets resulted in an Eoin McCormack point but Annacurra hit back through Ian McDonald and Alan Byrne as conditions worsened by the minute.
A burst from Bray brought them back to within a single point of Annacurra with McGraynor (free), Andrew Conway and McCormack raising white flags and making it 2-6 to 0-11 to the home side.
Referee Damien Byrne called Tadhg Doran for overcarrying and Frank Clune split the posts from the free. This was answered by a McGraynor point after Shane O'Neill was found guilty of pushing and then Gearoid Murphy swung over a stunner off his left to put two between the sides.
Both sides threw caution to the wind for the last few minutes but could only register two wides apiece with the last wayward shot falling to Marc Lennon as Bray hunted for a late goal to snatch the points.
A super game in bad conditions and the summer ahead is full of potential if these two sides can maintain the standards they set on Friday night.
Scorers - Annacurra: Ian McDonald 1-1, Max Molloy 1-0, Gearoid Murphy 0-3 (1 45, 1f), Frank Clune 0-2 (2f), Glen Austin 0-1, Alan Byrne 0-1.
Bray Emmets: Niall McGraynor 0-5 (3f), Cian Lohan 0-3, Eoin McCormack 0-2, Des Kelly 0-1 (f), Andrew Conway 0-1.
Annacurra: Bob Fitzgerald; Shane McAllister, Shane O'Neill, Liam Moules; Dean Barnes, Martin O'Brien, Paul McDonald; Jon Hynes, Gearoid Murphy; Cian Moules, Ian McDonald, Glen Austin; Frank Clune, Alan Byrne, Max Molloy. Subs: Elliot Robinson, Shane O'Keeffe, Patrick Moules.
Bray Emmets: Tadhg Doran; Mark Linehan, Conor O'Doherty, Ciaran McKay; Ronan Twohig, Des Kelly, Cathal Ó Duallacháin; Eoin McCormack, Darragh Rochford; Marc Lennon, Andrew Conway, Cian Lohan; David Haughton, Cathal McGee, Niall McGraynor. Sub: Liam Benville
Referee: Damien Byrne (Kiltegan)