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Saturday 20 October 2018

McGraynor strikes late to save 'Dales from Magpies

Avondale 4-03 Newtown 1-12

Richard Clune

With the last kick of the game Sean McGraynor saved Avondale by converting a penalty. Referee Eugene O'Brien's decision to award the penalty certainly didn't endear him to the Newtown men who won't be troubling his letter box with Christmas cards any time soon, not that anyone sends Christmas cards in July in any case.

It was a strange match, Avondale's only point in the first half came in the fifth minute of first half injury time and yet they led by 2-01 to five points.

In the second half Conor Byrne converted two frees within four minutes of the restart and Avondale didn't score another point for the rest of the game.

Likewise Newtown only scored one point in the opening twenty-five minutes of the match, that coming with their very first attack in the first minute.

Both teams played like they had a certain nervousness without any fluency in their play, Newtown snatching at shots in the first half while Avondale could not break down a resolute and disciplined Newtown defence intent on frustration.

Perhaps this was inevitable, both teams were missing a few players from the start and lost more during the game.

Declan Doyle got the first score the game, Ross Davis won the ball in front of his man and laid it into Doyle's path. Avondale responded immediately however with a goal Newtown will never want to see again.

Barry Sheehan and Seamus McGraynor conspired to win the kick out and McGraynor sent senior hurler Eamonn Kearns off to gallop into the Newtown half.

Without a glove or a whimper or any tackle of any kind whatsoever at all, Kearns kept running until it was time to shoot, hitting the back of the net at the second time of asking.

It wasn't all great for Avondale however because Kearns injured himself in the process and had to be taken off moments later.

In the eighth minute Avondale had their second goal, this time Padraig Geoghegan marauding his way through the porous Newtown defence before Ryan Cahill hit the back of the net.

It took almost twenty minutes for the sides to register another score, during which time both teams lost a man.

Shane O'Neill and Dean Odlum tussled off the ball O'Neill being shown a red card for what appeared to be a strike.

On the recommendation of his umpires and linesman O'Brien also sent off Odlum.

Newtown kicked four wides during that time, the last of which was greeted by a cry from the side line wondering if they would ever kick the ball over the bar.

"What do you think I'm trying to do?" came the response, though that's not an exact word for word quote.

The encouragement obviously worked however as Newtown finished the half with four points, Ross Davis, Declan Doyle, Dessie Waters and John Heffernan doing the honours.

Conor Byrne almost scored Avondale's third goal during that scoring spree, he intercepted a short kick out but the impressive Bobby Greenan saved his goalkeeper's blushes with a goal line block.

Byrne had to settle for a point moments later, and it was 2-01 to five points at half time.

Byrne extended the lead out to four points with a couple of early second half frees but Newtown took control of the game from then on, outscoring Avondale by 1-07 to two goals.

John Heffernan scored the first point before Ross Davis got the goal, this time Avondale left the centre of their defence open for Declan Doyle to run through and Davis took the pass and hit the back of the net.

Sean Heffernan immediately put Newtown in front by a point but Avondale replied with a goal, Ryan Cahill's second. A long ball was pumped into Cormac Doyle who knocked it down and Cahill latched onto it to finish the ball past Bryan Kennedy.

A big blow for Newtown who responded very well. Ross Davis kicked two, one free, to equalise before Doyle kicked his third point of the afternoon to put Newtown in front.

Ciaran McGuirl made it two points in the 55th minute and Davis made it three with ninety seconds to go.

Between the two points Seamus McGraynor was clotheslined by Neil Martin who received a yellow card for his troubles, a challenge that would earn him a red card if he was in New Zealand playing for the Lions. Conor Byrne couldn't convert the free however.

There was one last chance with time almost up for Avondale to equalise. Sean McGraynor won the ball and was bundled over, Eugene O'Brien immediately giving a penalty as the Newtown line cursed him to high heavens. McGraynor dispatched it excellently and O'Brien blew the final whistle straight away.

Scorers - Avondale: Ryan Cahill 2-00; Sean McGraynor (pen), Eamonn Kearns 1-00 each; Conor Byrne (2f) 0-3.

Newtown: Ross Davis (1f) 1-04; Declan Doyle 0-03; John Heffernan 0-02; Sean Heffernan, Dessie Waters, Ciaran McGuirl 0-01 each.

Avondale: Brian Burke; Steven Lee, Shane O'Neill, Dean Gahan; Eugene Dunne, Eamonn Kearns, Kevin Fitzpatrick; Barry Sheehan, Padraig Geoghegan; Sean McGraynor, David Baker, Seamus McGraynor; Conor Byrne, Cormac Doyle, Ryan Cahill. Sub: Ian Heffernan for Eamonn Kearns (5 mins, inj.).

Newtown: Bryan Kennedy; Glen Carty, Neil Martin, Michael Heffernan; Aaron Turner, Darren Walsh, Karl Carty; Paul O'Riordan, Declan Doyle; Ger Sinnott, Sean Heffernan, Dessie Waters; Ciaran McGuirl, Dean Odlum, Ross Davis. Subs: Bobby Greenan for Glen Carty (16 mins, inj.); John Heffernan for Ger Sinnott (24 mins); Stephen Kelly for Michael Heffernan (42 mins); Shane Mooney for Bobby Greenan (52 mins, inj.).

Referee: Eugene O'Brien (Aughrim)

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