Senior footballers: ST PATRICK’S got the defence of their county title off to a winning start against a brave Eire Og side in Aughrim on Sunday evening.
Second-half goals from Paul Earls and Dean Healy were ultimately the difference between the two sides. St Pat’s started the brighter, with Paul Earls claiming a kickout and releasing Healy to boot the first score.
Stephen Duffy was spraying the ball around the field like a
quarterback at this stage and it was from one of his precise passes that Tommy
Kelly extended the lead.
On ten minutes Eire Og got on the board with a free from
David Rooney. Pat’s looked to be easing away, though, with three points on the
trot from Dean Healy (2) and Duffy.
However, Eire Og hit a purple patch over the next ten
minutes, with Darren Hayden clipping over two frees before Sean Lawless
plundered a goal. Hayden launched a ball into the Pat’s square and Lawless,
with great skill, deflected the ball into his own path before lacing the ball
from the ground to the net.
With that goal Eire Og had a lead they scarcely deserved.
However, Pat’s responded like champions, with Kelly tying the scores back up.
On the stroke of half-time Hayden landed his third free to give the Greystones
men a lead of 1-4 to 0-6.
Pat’s, shooting into the town goal, came out of the traps
fast in the second period, but they were wasteful with their shooting and only
had two Duffy frees – replying to a Hayden one – to leave it all square on 40
Ciaran McGettigan, who came on at half-time, eventually got
the champions in front with one of the scores of the contest. Collecting the
ball under the stand, he showed great pace to elude the Eire Og defence before
splitting the posts with his weaker right boot.
The Wicklow town side then got a crucial goal. Duffy, who
had an off day with his trusted left boot, dropped a shot short. However, Paul
Earls, lurking around the goal, won possession before Eire Og goalkeeper Conor
Browne and rolled to the net.
With Pat’s four points clear, Eire Og showed more heart to
hit three scores on the trot. Frees from Hayden and Rooney shrunk the gap,
before Rooney with his magical left foot got the Greystones men’s first point
from play in the 55th minute.
With the game in the melting pot it was Healy who showed the
leadership for the champions. Gathering possession 40 yards out he showed speed
and strength to arrow through the defence. With the option of a simple point he
instead rocketed a shot past Browne with such ferocity it was a miracle the net
stayed on the hooks. Duffy added another free in injury time.
Eire Og will see the positives out of this match. With Shaun
Cranley in particular to come back they will have renewed hope for the season
ahead. Hayden and Rooney were their classiest operators.
For the champions they will be relieved with the victory and
know there is room for improvement. Earls and Patrick McWalter were solid for
them. But with Duffy and Kelly not as influential as they usually are, man of
the match was Dean Healy who finished with 1-3 and showed great leadership in
the closing stages when they needed it.