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Wednesday 24 April 2019

Rathnew rule second half

GAA: SFL division 1 - Blessington 0-13 Rathnew 3-9

Brendan Lawrence at Blessington

Rathnew's ability to score goals when required and their absolute refusal to accept defeat saw them scorch Blessington in the second half of this SFL Division 1 clash in the west on Sunday morning.

A goal from Graham Merrigan within five minutes of the restart was the perfect tonic for Hary Murphy's men as it rescued them from a six-point deficit to leave them trailing by just three points with Blessington looking as though they were about to continue their impressive form from that opening 30.

Merrigan's goal was complemented by majors from James Stafford and substitute Luke Corcoran as Rathnew took complete control more or less with Gary Byrne, Jamie Snell, JT Moorehouse, Ciaran Coffey, Theo Smyth and Ross O'Brien dominating in a chilly but dry Blessington.

It was very much that classic game of two halves. Blessington were in fine form in the opening 30 with Patrick O'Connor looking very sharp, Mikey O'Connor impressing, Anto McLoughlin proving busy, Kevin-John Rogers and Jack Gilligan competing very well with Stafford and Coffey while the half-back line of Caolan McGorman, Kevin Hanlon and Jack Cotter were coping well with a formidable looking trio of Theo Smyth, Ross O'Brien and Graham Merrigan while Barry Murphy, Steven Bohan and Aaron Curran looking comfortable against Mark Doyle, Dylan Smith and Ross Quinn.

The visitors started brightly with a shot dropped short by Theo Smyth and a wide and a point from Mark Doyle in the opening three minutes.

Blessington grew into the game and assumed a somewhat dominant role as they built up a 0-7 to 0-3 lead at the break. Caolan McGorman grabbed their first before Mark Doyle hit back from a free for the visitors.

A mighty Patrick O'Connor score in the 11th pulled Blessington level at 0-2 apiece with the Blessington management switching full-forward Curtis Geraghty and centre half Anto McLoughlin around the same time.

A sublime flick from Curtis Geraghty to centre back Kevin Hanlon bought Hanlon some time and he returned the ball to Geraghty who fired over a bomb off the outside of his right at the end of the first quarter to give Blessington the lead for the first time.

It was 0-6 to 0-2 within minutes thanks to points from Stephen Carroll, Mikey O'Connor from a free and corner-forward Jordan Nolan.

A Theo Smyth 45 was followed by a super score from Hanlon after major work from Patrick O'Connor to leave it 0-7 to 0-3 at the break.

Mickey O'Connor and Jordan Nolan pointed either side of a Mark Doyle free to make it 0-9 to 0-4 and then Merrigan struck for the game's opening goal after a high ball down on top of James Stafford and Mark Doyle eventually broke to the waiting Merrigan who fired home for the perfect boost for the Rathnew men.

A wicked one-two with Anto McLoughlin allowed Patrick O'Connor bag the perfect response for Blessington but from here on in it was all Rathnew.

Harry Murphy had rejigged his side somewhat. Danny Staunton had entered the fray at the break for Ross Quinn, Graham Merrigan was moved up to corner-forward. With 10 gone in the second he brought in Luke Corcoran for Dylan Smith and he also pulled Theo Smyth into centre half forward and brought Ross O'Brien out to the wing. His deployment of Ross O'Brien at 11 was interesting and not unsuccessful while JT Moorehouse looks a solid operator at six having had Anto McLoughlin and Curtis Geraghty for company at different times.

The classic high ball down on top of James Stafford resulted in Rathnew's second goal and a poor defensive error allowed Luke Corcoran to lash home their third to knock the stuffing out of Blessington who would see Anto McLoughlin leave the field moments later as if to compound their woes.

Two James Stafford points prior to Corcoran's goal should also be mentioned as massive boosts to the Village side.

Both sides face two tricky tasks next time out. Rathnew welcome neighbours St Patrick's to Merrymeeting on Thursday evening while Blessington must do battle with a flying Baltinglass.

Scorers - Rathnew: James Stafford 1-2, Graham Merrigan 1-0, Luke Corcoran 1-0, Mark Doyle 0-3 (2f), Theo Smyth 0-2 (1 45), Ciaran Coffey 0-1, Ross O'Brien 0-1 (f).

Blessington: Mikey O'Connor 0-3 (2f), Patrick O'Connor 0-3, Jordan Nolan 0-2, Anto McLoughlin 0-1, Curtis Geraghty 0-1, Stephen Carroll 0-1, Kevin Hanlon 0-1, Caolan McGorman 0-1.

Blessington: Peter Manning; Barry Murphy, Steven Bohan, Aaron Curran; Caolan McGorman, Kevin Hanlon, Jack Cotter; Kevin-John Rogers, Jack Gilligan; Stephen Carroll, Anto McLoughlin, Patrick O'Connor; Mikey O'Connor, Curtis Geraghty, Jordan Nolan. Subs: Barry Finan, Adam Boland, Jordan McGarr, Brian Carroll.

Rathnew: Darragh Hosey; Gary Byrne, Jamie Snell, Jack Healy; Ronan Manley, JT Moorehouse, Warren Kavanagh; James Stafford 1-2, Ciaran Coffey 0-1; Theo Smyth 0-2 (1 45), Ross O'Brien 0-1 (f), Graham Merrigan 1-0; Dylan Smith, Mark Doyle 0-3 (2f), Ross Quinn. Danny Staunton for R Quinn, Luke Corcoran for D Smith, Ross Quinn for M Doyle.

Referee: Liam Keenan Jnr

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