CARLOW SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL REPLAY
Éire Óg 2-8
By Kieran Murphy
THIS senior football championship replay success in Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday was a sweet one for Éire Óg.
This year, not even among their own over in Teach Asca, were they fancied to bridge a five year gap to their last senior success.
People have short memories. In their history this club have won many matches they weren’t supposed to win and ultimately that was to stand to them when push came to shove in 2017.
In the semi-final whatever was going through Palatine minds they knew their record against the YIs wasn’t good in key championship games. They played out that little affair accordingly and allowed the eventual county champions to dash their hopes of three-in-a-row.
Then in the drawn final Rathvilly had the Reds on the ropes but didn’t land the knock-out punches. They were left to rue this on Sunday as Éire Óg dug deep into their history, their ability and total self-belief to win a replay they should have won by more.
Never give a sucker an even break they say and Eoghan Ruth knew this.
“We worked hard. We knew we had started slow in the last game. We started quicker this time and played for nearly sixty minutes,” said the Éire Óg midfielder who wore the number twelve jersey on his back.
“We knew Rathvilly would have to up it a lot if they were to beat us. We knew there was a lot more in us.”
The Town side conceded an early goal last time out. This time they scored one. The move was typical Éire Óg with Jordan Lowry starting it deep in his own half. When the ball came to Darragh O’Brien at the other end of the pitch his kicked pass was inch perfect and Ruth almost walked the ball into the Rathvilly net before his foot did the rest.
Both sides played the possession game for long periods but in fairness to the winners they did find Derek Hayden and Darragh O’Brien up front with well-timed foot-passes. At other times they drew Rathvilly forward in an attempt to exploit space in behind. It all weakened their opponents resolve.
When the Wicklow border side got forward they forced the concession of frees with Gary Dempsey landing three points from placed balls in the first half. Ken Doyle and Danny Molloy pointed from play.
Ruth was unlucky to have an effort waved wide by one umpire and signalled a point by the other. Referee David Hickey went with his assistants after consultation. Ruth batted a question on that decision to touch after the game.
“I’d say it was (a point). They come and go. It didn’t count in the end. We didn’t need it.”
At half-time Éire Óg led by 1-4 to 0-5. One minute into the second half the YIs laid a marker with Jordan Morrissey eluding the defender and pointing from a narrow angle. Lowry then won dirty ball against Brendan Murphy and Gannon put four points between the sides.
JJ Smith replied with a 45 but it was clear Rathvilly had lost their shape. Alan Kelly saw red for a needless altercation with Benny Kavanagh who had fallen to the ground. Minutes later O’Brien fired in another high delivery and Jordan Morrissey rose high to secure possession to slide the ball past the advancing Rathvilly keeper.
“We got a second goal at the right time in the second half,” pointed out Ruth.
“Goals (conceded) knock the stuffing out of a team. Especially in the way the game has gone. Low scoring games and they would find it hard to battle back.”
An identical situation almost produced another goal for Éire Óg but this time Morrissey saw his effort hit the crossbar and rebound to safety.
Gary Dempsey and O’Brien exchanged frees as the game looked to be fizzling out. For a change Rathvilly hoisted high ball in on top of the Éire Óg full-back line and when Brendan Murphy was fouled JJ Smith stood over the resultant penalty. Unfortunately for the corner forward his kick lacked power and Robbie Moore deflected the ball to safety.
That was more or less it. Éire Óg weren’t word perfect at the end. They lost a lot of ball putting pressure back on themselves. But Rathvilly had given themselves too much to do. Dempsey converted a penalty with the last kick of the game and Éire Óg emerged triumphant.
Éire Óg: Robbie Moore; Fiach O’Toole, Mark Fitzgerald, Benny Kavanagh; Jordan Lowry, Paul McElligott, Ross Dunphy; Sean Gannon (0-2), Kelvin Chatten; Simon Rea, Jordan Morrissey (1-1), Eoghan Ruth (1-0); Mark Furey, Derek Hayden (0-1), Darragh O’Brien (0-4 frees). Subs: Evan Kelly for O’Toole (34 mins), Cormac Mullins for Dunphy (45 mins), Murtough Ware for Rea (50 mins), Chris Blake for Morrissey (57 mins), Niall Quinlan for Hayden (61 mins).
Rathvilly: Robbie Molloy; Barry John Molloy, Conor O’Brien, Tony Bolger; Jeffrey O’Donoghue, Wayne O’Donoghue, Jim Bob Leonard; Brendan Murphy, Ken Doyle (0-1); Alan Kelly, Ed Finnegan, Danny Molloy (0-1); Brian Murphy, Gary Dempsey (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees), JJ Smith (0-1, 45). Subs: Josh Moore for W. O’Donoghue (black card 23 mins), Robbie Ryan for Leonard (47 mins), Jeff Worth for Doyle (47 mins), Colin Byrne for D Molloy (47 mins).
Referee: D. Hickey