Adult football: EIRE OG GREYSTONES cemented their Senior status for 2019 and sealed their place in the Keating Trophy final with a thumping victory over a disappointing Annacurra side in Bray last Friday evening under lights.
Stunning performances from Darren Hayden and Stephen Kelly laid the foundations for this superb victory, with Hayden bagging 1-4, the goal from a penalty he dispatched superbly past Bob Fitzgerald in the Annacurra goal late on, and Kelly totally dominating from his position of full-back.
Annacurra never turned up for this game in terms of effort or application with only Martin OBrien really carrying the game to the Greystones men over the course of the hour.
Eire Og led by 0-6 to 0-2 at the break and deservedly so, Danny Woods proving very effective with four points to his credit, three frees, while Cian OFlaherty and Sean Lawless chipped in with the other two points.
Annacurra just couldnt gain any momentum. What balls went in were coming out nearly as fast as Stephen Kelly had Frank Clune wrapped up and Darren Hayden was keeping Gearoid Murphy noticeably quiet.They opened their account in the 16th minute when stalwart Alan Byrne rampaged up the field and got on the end of a move to whip over a fine score off his right. If ever anyone was going to lift his team out of the doldrums, then Alan Byrne was going to be that man.
Annacurra would lose Ian McDonald to injury shortly after Byrnes opener with Ciaran Byrne entering the fray.Two more points from the impressive Woods and another from Cian OFlaherty after a stunning Woods pass left Annacurra breathless at 0-5 to 0-1.
A foul on Ciaran Byrne gave Frank Clune a chance to notch his sides second score of the day and he took it well but a foul on Darragh Shiels by Mick OBrien earned the Annacurra midfielder a yellow card and cost his side a point as Woods proved lethal from the ground.
Annacurra needed a big reversal of fortunes in the second half if they were to have any hope, but, to be fair, it never really looked on the cards.Sean Lawless, Darren Hayden (free), Daniel Keane, another Hayden free, Lawless again and a fine score from Anto Byrne left this game dead and buried at 0-12 to 0-2.
The second half was 19 minutes old when Annacurra would register their first score of the second period, that a Frank Clune free. Darren Hayden replied after a magnificent weaving run through the Annacurra defence before Frank Clune got on the end of a short Gearoid Murphy free to palm home to the back of the Eire Og net with seven minutes remaining.
This blip on the Eire Og report card was quickly forgotten as Darren Hayden pointed from a free before walloping home a penalty after Bob Fitzgerald had fouled Sean Lawless after fumbling a high ball in front of the corner-forward.
Frank Clune would finish the scoring with a pointed free to leave Eire Og through to the Keating Trophy final where they will face Newtown.
Annacurra have one more chance to secure Senior survival when they come up against Emmet OSullivans Avondale in what is guaranteed to be a battle to the finish.
Scorers – Eire Og Greystones: Darren Hayden 1-4 (1p, 3f), Danny Woods 0-4 (2f), Sean Lawless 0-3, Cian OFlaherty 0-1, Daniel Keane 0-1, Anto Byrne 0-1.
Ladies football final: WICKLOW Ladies Junior championship final, which takes place this Saturday in the county grounds in Aughrim at 2pm, throws up an interesting pairing with both sides hailing from east Wicklow and both with exciting youthful sides.
An Tochar have a proud tradition in Wicklow ladies footballing circles and beyond having been the queens of Senior champions, particularly during the 1990s when the club won eight Senior titles while also contesting three Leinster finals while this era also saw the selection of Wicklows only All Star in Nicky Dunne.
It is interesting to see that Nicky is indeed still involved with the club being a selector on this years team.
However, An Tochar struggled subsequently and have only recently been involved competitively at adult level. They reached the Junior decider in 2016 and will hope that today will see them victorious.
In a similar way, Eire Og were a strong senior side as recently as 2012 when they contested for the senior title with Tinahely in Arklow.
However, they subsequently struggled and indeed there was no team in Greystones for the following four years. Both sides have really been strengthening their younger structure with a lot of work going into their juvenile teams and this emphasis on the younger players is beginning to bear fruit.
Thus it is no coincidence that these two teams will contest the Junior decider. This Sunday will see one of these two attractive sides advance to the Intermediate grade and certainly is a difficult on to call.
There is no doubt that there will be scores a plenty in this match as both sets of forwards are free scoring. Both sides have their talismanic leaders on the Greystones side theres the mercurial Meadhbh Deeney who was the player of the match in the All Ireland Junior final replay in 2011 – while on the An Tochar side theres the precocious talent of county forward Amy Murphy who is capable of shooting the lights out with her sheer pace and scoring abilities.
Neither team however rely solely on these two fine Wicklow county players. They both can boast of having some of the best up and coming players at juvenile level within their ranks.
An Tochar can boast a young brigade with the likes of Jess Scott, Katie Coleman, Izzy Ryle, Sarah OToole and Becky Molloy showing great championship form while also having the experienced players like Sarah Kavanagh, Marcella Price and Jess OGorman to help them and having had recent losses in championship finals they will certainly not be wanting for effort.
On the other side, Eire Og will look to the experience of Elaina Fusciardi to assist Deeney and their younger players like Rachel Purcell, Megan Healy, Eva Stone, Aoife McTague, Ellie ONeill, Katie Lawless and Megan Healy will certainly be to the fore in providing further assistance.
In what is likely to be a shootout due to the strength of both forward divisions the expectation is for a high scoring, free flowing match with victory truly in the balance throughout.
A tentative vote is given to An Tochar due to their having relatively more experience at this level but victory is not a certainty and we look forward to throw in at 2pm