Arch Rivals Share the Spoils
Full Time: St Pats 2-10 vs Rathnew 2-10
It was Friday night football in Wicklow Town as arch rivals Rathnew and St Patricks played out a derby day draw in a close encounter.
Similar to the first county final these teams played last year, they were inseparable on the score-board after the final whistle sounded. The rain held off for this round 13 league fixture which attracted good crowds from both sets of supporters. Both team had players unavailable for selection due to their county duties. The home side were missing Dean Healy and Captain Stephen Duffy, the visitors were without Theo Smyth and Jamie Snell among others.
In the first quarter both teams were just feeling up their opponents not giving much away. They traded a couple of scores at the beginning, experienced Rathnew leader Nicky Mernagh and Pats top scorer Tommy Kelly got on the scoresheet early in the opening exchanges. Kelly was once again the go to man for his team scoring 1-6, three of those points were from frees and the goal came from the penalty spot.
The 2018 county champions burst into life with a bit of individual class from John Crowe who made a telling run to open up his opponents defence before rattling the ball in the net. Crowe’s pace was evident throughout as his ability to take on the defender caused his rivals problems. For much of the first half the village men had the upper hand in midfield. James Stafford asserted some aerial dominance from the outset. Stafford was involved again as he got the first goal for his team. A high ball troubled the Pats penalty area, it was initially punched away by the keeper but his defenders failed to divert the danger before the ball landed into Stafford’s hands and all he had to do was tap it into the Pats net. Despite their edge in midfield the red and green men would have been disappointed with the first half as they struggled to retain possession as Pats won double the number of turnovers Rathnew had. It was 1-7 to 1-5 at halftime as Pats held a 2 point advantage.
The second half was a real tussle but the trailing team came out of the blocks quick as they tried to get back into the game.The 2017 County Champions improved in the second half. Mernagh was central to his team’s performance bringing composure at the right moments and always touching the ball. It wasn’t long before their pressure told as Luke Corcoran put his men in the driving seat with a good little run and then a strike to leave the ball in the opposition net. Corcoran was moved all over the park as he started in the half-back line before he was moved to corner-forward for the second-half. A big positive for Rathnew was their ability to find scores from different players, apart from Mernagh, Eddie Doyle got a couple and Mark Doyle kicked over a trio of his own points.
Pats lost their grip on the game a bit during the second half, although similar to Mernagh, Padge McWalter was involved in everything being a real leader in the closing stages. The ball seldom got into their forward line in the second half, but when it did forward Conor O’Brien had the edge over Rathnew half-back Jack Healy. The Pats penalty came at an ideal time as they needed something if they had a chance of salvaging the result. It was a high ball that came in towards O’Brien before he was pushed in the back, in the box. It was pretty cheap penalty to concede. Without a second thought, Kelly stepped up and buried the ball in the Rathnew goal.
Pats definitely showed more life towards the end of the contest, this was helped by impressive sub Luca Rampersaud who brought a bit of zip to the midfield. In the short space of time Rampersaud was on the pitch, he scored a point of his own and got acquainted with the powerhouse JT Moorehouse and the two had the odd friendly scuffle.
It was a game that had a bit of edge as these neighbour contests always have and truthfully a draw was a fair result on the day, with very little to separate the two teams. Hopefully we get to see this fixture in the closing stages of the Championship once again, we will have to wait and see.
St Pats: Tommy Kelly (1-6), Padge McWalter (0-1), Ronan Murray (0-1) Conor O’Brien (0-1), Luca Rampersaud (0-1), John Crowe (1,0)
Rathnew: James Stafford (1-0), Mark Doyle (0-3), Luke Corcoran (1-0), Nicky Mernagh (0-2), Eddie Doyle (0-2), Danny Staunton (0-1), Gary Byrne (0-1), Dylan Smyth (0-1)
Interview by Ciaron Noble
Ciaron is currently studying journalism and hopes to become a sports journalist. He has got a big passion for the football and is hoping to try and get into the local football this summer and for the future. We wish Ciaran every success and he has obviously got the skills to have a very successful career ahead of him. We have great admiration for the brilliant Sports Journalists around like Brendan Lawrence and hopefully one of the local professional publications can offer Ciaron a role.
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