Tuesday 20 February 2018

Fitzgerald sprung from bench to seal glory for St Pat's

St Patrick's 1-12 Baltinglass 0-14
WICKLOW SFC FINAL

ST PATRICK'S, who had only ever beaten Baltinglass once before in a senior final, carved out a dramatic late victory in Aughrim.



Super-sub Donie Fitzgerald fired over the winning point in injury-time of a cracking game that saw the teams level on 10 occasions.

Henry Sinnott pointed Baltinglass ahead after just 30 seconds, but Austin O'Malley levelled from a free two minutes later, which set the pattern for a game of end-to-end football.

Richard Murphy of St Patrick's exchanged points with Sinnott, while Matty Byrne did likewise with Joey Kelly, who pointed from a free out on the touchline to leave the teams 0-4 apiece at the start of the second quarter.

Baltinglass got a grip in the last 10 minutes of the half -- their backs industriously closed down the Wicklow town attackers -- while Kelly, John McGrath and centre-back Kevin Murphy established a three-point lead coming up to the break.

St Patrick's got the vital lift they needed just on the stroke of half-time when a long ball from Ciaran Doyle was snapped up by Paul Earls, who drilled a left-foot shot into the far corner of the net and -- with the scores tied at 1-4 to 0-7 at the interval -- it was game on again for the second half.

Byrne and Earls edged the Wicklow town lads back into the lead after the restart, while Kelly and John McGrath levelled for Baltinglass. And so it ebbed and flowed.

Points by Kelly and Sinnott restored the Slaneysiders' lead, 0-14 to 1-10, with just minutes left on the clock.

Baltinglass goalkeeper John Flynn made a crucial save from Tommy Kelly but under pressure he held on to the ball too long -- resulting in a free to St Patrick's and the leveller for Byrne.

Moments earlier St Patrick's had just sprung Fitzgerald from the bench and he proved the match winner in injury-time when, after receiving the ball from Tommy Kelly, he guided his shot over off the goalpost.

Scorers -- St Patrick's: M Byrne 0-6 (0-4fs), P Earls 1-1, R Murphy 0-3, A O'Malley, D Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

Baltinglass: J McGrath (2f), J Kelly (2f) 0-5 each, H Sinnott 0-3, K Murphy 0-1.

St Patrick's -- C Byrne; S Murley, P Higgins, R Connolly; P McWalter, C Doyle, D Healy; D McEvoy, N Kennedy; M Byrne, P Earls, R Murphy; T Kelly, A O'Malley, D O'Sullivan. Sub: D Fitzgerald for Kennedy.

Baltinglass -- JJ Flynn; T Murphy, A Nolan, M Staines; R Nolan, K Murphy, I Sheerin; P Burke, S Sheerin; J Kelly, J McGrath, B Cullen; H Sinnott, C Walshe, J Kennedy. Subs: C Foley for Cullen, T Cullen for Kennedy.

Ref -- J Keenan (Aughrim).

Irish Independent

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