The Machine Manning Keeps Ashford Alive

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Ashford 1-9 Vs Shillelagh/Coolboy 1-9

Three late Brendan Manning points kept Ashford’s division 3 League winning hopes alive as they drew with Shillelagh/Coolboy on a midday battle in Coolafancy on Sunday.

This was a unique finale to the league campaign for both teams as it was effectively a league final as the winner would take all after the final whistle. After a disappointing 2018 season, getting relegated to division 3 and losing their intermediate status, Ashford have been more successful this year already securing promotion back to Division 2. At 19 years of age the young and fast corner forward Cormac Doyle has looked the real deal scoring 4-29 before coming into the final game. Shillelagh/Coolboy have been a revelation so far as the decision for a merger between the two clubs at the start of the year seems to be paying dividends. A dominant victory against Avoca a couple of weeks ago and gaining promotion, they could be dark horses for the Junior A crown this year.

The rain held off for this league decider as many supporters from both teams came out to watch the clash. Ashford started brightly racing into an early two-point lead. One of those points was scored by Brendan Manning who was influential throughout the game, especially in the closing stages. In the early stages the home side struggled to settle into the contest, conceding frees as it was clear Cormac Doyle had gotten under the skin of his marker Garret Gregan. Doyle was unfortunate as he narrowly missed some early frees, striking the ball well, narrowly missing his target.

The Shillelagh/Coolboy lads gave their home crowd something to shout about as Jonathan Smyth fired two quick points to level the game. It didn’t take the visitors long to get back on the front foot as a brilliant Ross Quinn point shot them ahead, followed by a Dean Mooney free. I don’t think Mooney was the man who was meant to take that free but he was determined he was taking it, luckily for him it went over the bar. Shillelagh/Coolboy dominated possession for the rest of the first half. Ashford had the majority of their men behind the ball for that period, as the hosts had a strong wind behind them. Raymond Murphy looked strong as he had the edge in midfield over his counterpart Joey Doyle. They would have been disappointed to be 0-4 to 0-3 down at the break.

In the second half the game opened up. We had everything, two red cards and a black card. Shillelagh/Coolboy came out of the blocks quick pushing forward, asking some tough question of the Ashford defence. Wayne Kinsella racked up four impressive points in the second half. Centre half forward PJ Mulhall was also a standout performer in the second half showing some great skills and scoring 1-01. Substitute Johnny Willoughby made a big impact for the home side as he ultimately changed the game as he played a massive part in his team’s goal.  He dispossessed the ball from Ashford’s Robbie Kiernan before corner back Rian Dwyer committed a foul to give away the penalty. Mulhall stepped up and buried the ball in the Ashford net. The home team now looked fully in control of the contest.

Trailing 1-6 to 0-6 points, the black and amber weren’t going down without a fight. Some good pressure from the Ashford men lead to them getting a penalty of their own and Manning didn’t hesitate to level the scores. In a game full of twists and turns the host pulled away into another three-point lead as they looked set to take the spoils with time being Ashford’s enemy at that point. Although it wasn’t over as a late trio of Manning points meant that his team would live to fight another day in their hopes to take the Division 3 crown. The replay will be held in Arklow on Wednesday the 26th of June.

Shillelagh/Coolboy Scorers: Wayne Kinsella (0-4), Jonathan Smyth (0-2),PJ Mulhall (1-1), Johnny Willoughby (0-1) PJ O’Keffe (0-1)

Ashford Scorers: Brendan Manning (1-4), Cormac Doyle (0-1), Gavin Weir (0-1), Dean Mooney (0-1), Ross Quinn (0-1), Robbie Kiernan (0-1)

Match Report 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.

IF YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR SPORTS JOURNALISM OR WRITING LOCAL SPORTS ARTICLES OR EVEN JUST WISH TO HIGHLIGHT THE EVENTS HAPPENING IN YOUR CHOSEN SPORTS THEN FEEL FREE TO GET IN TOUCH AS WE WOULD BE GLAD TO HAVE YOUR ARTICLES FEATURED ON OUR WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS.

Bill Hill has been writing sports articles for years. Contact us at (087) 6009012 or billhillwicklow@gmail.com