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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Pat's in super form

GAA Renault Senior Football Championship Semi-final - St Patrick's 3-13 Hollywood 1-4

Ciaran McGettigan bears down on the Hollywood goal as Ian Burke comes to block. Photos: Joe Byrne
Ciaran McGettigan bears down on the Hollywood goal as Ian Burke comes to block. Photos: Joe Byrne

Brendan Lawrence at Joule Park Aughrim

It's fair to say that the two best teams in this year's Renault Senior Football Championship campaign will meet each other in the county final thanks to Casey O'Brien's St Pat's running riot over a weary Hollywood and marching on to face neighbours Rathnew in the decider on October 14.

Any notion of a third meeting of Mick Murray's Hollywood with Harry Murphy's Rathnew were well and truly extinguished when Dean Healy blasted his first goal to the back of Ian Burke's net after 28 minutes of this one-sided encounter at Joule Park Aughrim.

When the powerful midfielder rattled the net, Pat's led by 1-8 to 0-2 with Hollywood playing second fiddle as the effects of a long and enjoyable campaign and that extra game against Rathnew took its toll on Mick Murray's men.

St Pat's are a changed outfit. The word 'steely' was used to describe them in conversation last weekend. It's not a bad choice of word. 'Mobile', 'organised' 'ambitious', 'creative' and 'tenacious' are others that might suitably describe the ruddy health being enjoyed by Casey O'Brien's men who will give Rathnew a fierce battle in the decider in what promises to be an epic encounter.

O'Brien's men were in a different league on Sunday. A small crowd gathered to watch them take on the men of Hollywood and it was a significantly smaller crowd present to hear Kieron Kenny's final whistle with the scoreboard reading 3-13 to 1-4; Hollywood's goal coming with eight to go and from a pure moment of magic from Tony Hannon who back-heeled the ball past Colin Byrne in the Pat's goal.

All over the field Pat's have serious operators. A tight-marking full-back line of Patrick O'Kane, Shane Murley and Wayne Doyle proved unforgiving against Hollywood's attack, limiting them to 1-1 from play.

Conor Ffrench is a class act at centre back. Steady, intelligent and pacy, the St Pat's number six is a vital cog in his side's wheel. Simon Bouchier and Ciaran Doyle offer plenty either side in the half-back line.

Like the irresistible aroma of salt and vinegar, Pat's midfield duo of Dean Healy and John Crowe complement each other superbly as they roam the field in their 'bad cop, good cop' guise, treading on the dreams of their opponents as they go.

The stand-out player on Sunday had to be Paul O'Brien at 12. Huge energy levels saw the half-forward accrue a staggering amount of possessions as he covered the length and breadth of the field in Joule Park Aughrim.

The experience of Paudge McWalter and the pace and attacking threat of Ciaran McGettigan across the 45 completes a worrying line for Harry Murphy ahead of the big clash.

Paul Earls and Tommy Kelly work in unison inside while Stephen Duffy prowls at his own leisure and with a bench that seems to be abundantly stocked with capable replacements it's easy to explain the 3-13 to 1-4 score line at the end of this encounter.

Hollywood were competitive for the first quarter. Pat's opened up a two-point lead through two Stephen Duffy converted frees after fouls by Harry Wilson and Shane Kelly on Ciaran McGettigan and Dean Healy.

A Duffy wide and a block on Conor Ffrench by the excellent Conor Burke ended a strenous opening seven minutes for Hollywood.

Thomas Burke got the west men up and running from a free after a foul on Ciaran Tyrrell and Tony Hannon slotted a free after 11 minutes to make it 0-2 to 0-2.

Two more Duffy frees left Casey O'Brien's men 0-4 to 0-2 ahead with all scores coming from placed balls up to this point.

The first score from play arrived from Ciaran McGettigan whose goal-bound effort was flicked over by Harry Wilson.

Hollywood would suffer a set back after 20 minutes when Robert Houlihan would be forced to leave the field after a bruising collision with man mountain Dean Healy and from here on in St Pat's would take complete control over proceedings, romping out to a 1-8 to 0-2 lead at the break.

Hollywood got a positive start to the second half when Stephen Kearney pointed but disaster struck when Dean Healy rampaged up the field for his second goal and Ciaran McGettigan blasted home for his side's third at the end of the third quarter to make it 3-9 to 0-3.

Casey O'Brien emptied his bench with Jordan Pettigrew, Jack Dunne, Johnny Delahunt, Ruairi Marron and Chris Kavanagh getting game time.

Ross Tyrrell, Kevin Cullen and Garrett Bell entered the fray for Hollywood in a second half that was brightened considerably by Tony Hannon's moment of magic when he showed his genius to drop the ball under pressure in front of Colin Byrne's goal and back-heel it home to the back of the net.

A very positive year for Hollywood who bid farewell to Mick Murray and will be in the market for a new manager for 2019. Whoever it is have big shoes to fill but also a hugely impressive set up ready and willing to go.

St Pat's power on. The battle with the neighbours throws up all sorts of questions and potential that will be best discussed at a later date.

For now, it suffices to say that this is a very different Pat's team to recent years and one who will offer a stern challenge to the defending champions.

Scorers - St Patrick's: Dean Healy 2-1, Stephen Duffy 0-5 (5f), Ciaran McGettigan 1-1, Tommy Kelly 0-4 (1f), Ciaran Doyle 0-1, Johnny Delahunt 0-1.

Hollywood: Tony Hannon 1-2 (2f), Thomas Burke 0-1 (f), Stephen Kearney 0-1.

St Patrick's: Colin Byrne; Patrick O'Kane, Shane Murley, Wayne Doyle; Simon Bouchier, Conor Ffrench, Ciaran Doyle; Dean Healy, John Crowe; Ciaran Mcgettigan, Paudge McWalter, Paul O'Brien; Paul Earls, Stephen Duffy, Tommy Kelly. Subs: Aidan Dunne for S Murley, Jordan Pettigrew for C McGettigan, Jack Dunne for P Earls, Johnny Delahunt for S Duffy, Ruairi Marron for P O'Brien, Chris Kavanagh for S Bouchier.

Hollywood: Ian Burke; Sean O'Keeffe, Harry Wilson, Shane Kelly; Conor Burke, Mikey Healy, Robert Houlihan; Ciaran Tyrrell, Robert Kelly; Cian Tyrrell, Matthew Kelly, Keith Traynor; Stephen Kearney, Tony Hannon, Thomas Burke. Subs: Harry Houlihan for R Houlihan (inj), Eoin Burke for S O'Keeffe, Ross Tyrrell for R Kelly, Kevin Cullen for K Traynor, Garreth Bell for S Kelly.

Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely)

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