Tinahely no match for Mick Murray's impressive side
Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Blessington 1-19 Tinahely 1-8
Blessington stormed into the Senior football championship semi-finals with this resounding victory over Tinahely in Aughrim on Sunday afternoon last with the manner of the win suggesting that they are in a much healthier place than they have been for some time as they look to end a drought that goes back to 1983.
Mick Murray's men brought an abrupt end to Alan Costello's side's championship ambitions just a year after they made the leap from Intermediate and while the Tinahely men will be disappointed with the nature of the defeat there is still plenty of room for optimism in terms of the future of the blossoming club at Senior level.
The writing was on the wall as early as the opening minutes as Blessington were finding far too much room through the Tinahely defence as match ups rapidly became lopsided and unsuitable in key areas.
Blessington were hungry for possession, ferocious in the tackle and ruthless going forward with Patrick O'Connor turning in a magnificent performance, bagging six points and tormenting the Tinahely men at every angle.
Scoring 1-19 in a quarter-final will win you most matches but they also recorded 11 wides in as dominant a display not produced by Blessington in some time at this stage of the competition and the semi-final clash with AGB has the makings of an intriguing battle between two teams full of running and ambition.
At 1-7 to 1-3 at the break in favour of Mick Murray's men it didn't look done and dusted for Tinahely but it most certainly had that feeling. Long balls to Rory Stokes at full-forward weren't producing the desired effect. The Tinahely defence were under enormous pressure via the runs of Patrick O'Connor, Curtis Geraghty and Stephen Carroll and the power and talent of Anto McLoughlin and Eoin Keogh who turned in a masterful performance as team captain.
Blessington harvested three points before Tinahely managed to get off the mark. Stephen Carroll profited from good play from Gavin Murray and Anto McLoughlin to open the scoring before Mikey O'Connor pointed from a Curtis Geraghty ball and a sweet sidestep to Patrick O'Connor into a bit of space and allowed him split the posts for an early 0-3 to 0-0 lead and nervous flutterings in the stomachs of the loyal Tinahely support in a poorly populated Aughrim.
Mick Murray's men also had an early goal chance spurned by the very lively Patrick O'Connor who started this game like a train.
Eoin Darcy off the left on eight minutes got Tinahely up and running but they were really struggling to get to grips with the game all over the field.
Blessington recorded three wides on the trot between the ninth and 12th minute with the rampaging Barry Murphy grabbing the first after nine. The corner-back would have a major bearing on this game.
At the end of the first quarter Tinahely were in realy both after a point from Patrick O'Connor and a ripper of a goal from Curtis Geraghty to the bottom corner of Alan Nolan's net with 15 on the clock, 1-4 to 0-1.
A foul on Stephen Dillon allowed Eoin Darcy a chance to score but David Boothman enjoyed far too much space in which to swing over a fine point after 23 just ahead of Tinahely's first change as they looked to try and hamper Blessington's scintillating performance. In came James Hedderman and out went Willie Quaile with 23 on the clock.
Anto McLoughlin made it 1-6 to 0-2 a minute later before Jason Cush offered Tinahely a massive lifeline with a fine point followed up by a morale boosting major thanks to good work from Tony Darcy and Rory Stokes.
Two Tinahely wides just before the half-time break would, had they gone over, brought them back to within two points of Blessington which would have provided something of a false narrative on the first half overall.
A truly stunning opening 10 minutes of the second half put this game to bed and is one of the main reasons why this Blessington team look like major candidates to reach another county final and trouble whoever else is there on the day for possession of Miley.
From 1-7 to 1-3 they raced out to 1-12 to 1-3 through points from Anto McLoughlin, Stephen Carroll, Curtis Geraghty and two from the omnipresent Patrick O'Connor who just couldn't be stopped at any stage during the day or by anyone on the day.
Mick Murray had sent in Paul and Mick McLoughlin at the break and they were to play pivotal roles in that second half demolition showing a strength in depth they may require against a very threatening AGB side in the last four.
An Eoin Darcy free after a foul on Rory Stokes lifted the scoring siege while John Blake had entered the fray in place of Curtis Keating.
A fisted Eoin Keogh point was just reward for a superb performance from the Blessington captain with 10 gone in the second while a Mikey O'Connor free followed a successful 45 from Tinahely's Eoghan Byrne and the other end.
With 10 to go the game was up. Alan Costello sent in Niall Gorman while Jordan Nolan entered the fray for Blessington. Wides were still being clocked up by the flowing Blessington attack which might be a concern they need to address but two splendid Patrick O'Connor points in the 21st minute pushed them out to an unassailable 1-16 to 1-5 lead and if you can't shoot wides without fear of reprimand on a day like that then when can you shoot wides without fear of a reprimand.
Two Tony Darcy points took the lean look off the Tinahely tally, but Curtis Geraghty swung over and the dislodged full-back Wayne Callaghan drove over a wicked score after 26 on a day when very little went awry for the Blessington men.
It was just a really bad day at the office for Tinahely, epitomised by Eoin Darcy watching Stephen Kitt get down low and fast to save a late penalty.
Curtis Geraghty closed out the Blessington scoring on a very good day for the man wearing 14 while Tony Darcy, one of Tinahely's leading lights in the attack, completed the Tinahely scoring to leave Blessington mightily impressive winners at 1-19 to 1-8.
Scorers - Blessington: Patrick O'Connor 0-6, Curtis Geraghty 1-3, Mikey O'Connor 0-3 (1f), Stephen Carroll 0-2 (1f), Anto McLoughlin 0-2, David Boothman 0-1, Eoin Keogh 0-1, Wayne Callaghan 0-1. Tinahely: Jason Cush 1-1, Eoin Darcy 0-3 (2f), Tony Darcy 0-3 (2f), Eoghan Byrne 0-1 (45).
Blessington: Stephen Kitt; Barry Murphy, Wayne Callaghan, Steven Bohan; Jack Cotter, Jack Gilligan, Kevin Hanlon; David Boothman, Gavin Murray; Eoin Keogh, Anto McLoughlin, Stephen Carroll; Patrick O'Connor, Curtis Geraghty, Michael O'Connor. Subs: Mick McLoughlin, Paul McLoughlin, Jordan Nolan, Jordan McGarr.
Tinahely: Alan Nolan; Conor Hatton, Michael Byrne, Kevin Mulhall; Willie Quaile, Curtis Keating, Paddy O'Rourke; Stephen Dillon, Willie Dillon; Brian Walsh, Eoin Darcy, Eoghan Byrne; Jason Cush, Rory Stokes, Tony Darcy. Subs: James Hedderman, John Blake, Niall Gorman.
Referee: Anto Nolan (Baltinglass)