Rathnew bow out to magical Moorefield

Moorefield (Kildare) 2-13 Rathnew (Wicklow) 2-7


Kildare champions Moorefield proved too strong for Rathnew today in Joule Park and deservingly progressed after a decent game in tough conditions. A strong wind blowing in to the town goal was joined by heavy rain just before the break to make it tough for handling the ball and playing flowing football but Moorefield adapted better even though playing with 14 men after Cian O’Connor walked for striking Leighton Glynn as the players waited for a ’45 to be taken mid way through the second half. The Moorefield men were excellent when reduced and showed real courage as they continued to play in the same vein. Don’t forget they had survived two early red cards to win the Kildare final v Celbridge.

Niall Hurley Lynch was excellent for the Newbridge outfit, scoring 1-03, while 18 year old Mark Dempsey who had been outstanding in his efforts to curb Leighton Glynn got the second goal in the 64th minute to really ensure their progress and a meeting with St Lomans from Westmeath in Portlaoise on December 10th.

Moorefield started really well and were  a goal ahead after just four minutes. Hurley Lynch got the goal though it was an excellent diagonal ball in from Eddie Heavey and there was some fortune too as his shot was deflected in off Paul Merrigan agonisingly away from Peter Dignam.

Hurley Lynch scored two more points in the half but Rathnew had an excellent 20-minute period when they outscored the visitors by 0-05 to 0-01 to level the game up. Roared on by a big home support the men from the Village responded with some scintillating football.

Eddie Doyle scored three of those Rathnew points including two beauties from long range and Leighton Glynn sold two outrageous dummies before curling over a beauty with his left boot. The Rathnew full forward line were struggling to get any change from a strong Moorefield last line that succeeded in breaking the ball away and the seizing on the break time and again in the opening period. Moorefield had two or three man around Stafford for kick outs with one holding his arms by his side and the other two climbing all over the big man who was the beneficiary of only one free over the hour in the middle.

Ian Meehan and Hurley Lynch pointed for Moorefield to lead again by two entering injury time. Graham Merrigan who was working very hard for Rathnew soloed along the sideline before cutting in and unleashing a fierce shot that was deflected to the net by an unfortunate Moorefield defender. It was a sumptious Stafford pass to Glynn who in turn had set Merrigan away this time. Eanna O’Connor levelled it up just before the half-time whistle, 1-05 each. He and Cian are sons of Jack the former All-Ireland winning manager with Kerry and Jack is part of the well populated backroom team in Moorefield.

Moorefield were rocked twice in quick succession after the restart. First Eanna O’Connor whacked a shot off the left upright thanks to a Marvelous touch from the left boot of Peter Dignam and then his brother, Cian, was sent off for striking Glynn.

Rathnew lost Eddie Doyle to a black card for a challenge on Hurley Lynch soon after as the game grew tense in the difficult conditions. Moorefield held their nerve and were patient in possession  to pull 1-10 to 1-06 ahead but were suckered by a second Rathnew goal.

James Stafford, the star of Rathnew’s win over Vincent’s, was hauled down and Glynn converted the spot kick with ease sending Tom Kinsella the wrong way. Hope grew again and the prospect of another great Aughrim giantkilling loomed. But three more Moorefield points, all converted frees by O’Connor, put daylight between the sides again as Ross Glavin’s side led 1-13 to 2-06.

The Newbridge outfit, managed by Ross Glavin will really fancy their chances of going all the way but St Loman’s are managed by Luke Dempsey who won back-to-back titles as Moorefield boss before taking on the job in Mullingar and winning three-in-a-row there. If anybody knows where Moorefield may be vulnerable it will be Dempsey.

So Rathnew exit but they gave us some great moments along the way. The brilliantly resilient win in Drogheda with the last minute smash and grab goal, the display and atmosphere in Aughrim as St Vincents fell on a day that will be talked about for a long time. Staffords goal, Glynn’s composure, Power’s man marking job on Connolly, Dignam’s saves, Eddie Doyle’s accuracy, Staunton’s impact and many, many more moments will grow as the week’s, month’s and years pass. The fact that two of their most important players in recent years Nicky Mernagh and Jody Merrigan were not fit further hampered them. Mernagh had his appendix removed the night before the Vincents game while Merrigan was playing with a broken hand. Also, Congratulations to Stephen ‘Bruiser’ Byrne who was married yesterday and lined out today and gave his usual 100% for the cause.

It wasn’t to be today but the GAA public in Wicklow deserve massive credit for their support of the effort of our county champions. The county board too for their management of the biggest days we have had for some time and the groundsmen who had the pitch in splendid condition.

Well done all.

One thing is for sure Rathnew will be back again, that’s just the way they are made down there.

Rathnew: Peter Dignam; Paul Merrigan, Damien Power, Jamie Snell; Warren Kavanagh, Ross O’Brien, Enan Glynn; James Stafford, Theo Smith; Graham Merrigan, Leighton Glynn, Danny Staunton; Stephen Byrne, Mark Doyle, Eddie Doyle. Subs: Jody Merrigan for E Doyle (42, black), N Mernagh for Byrne (50), John Manley for E Glynn (53), Chris Healy for O’Brien (57).

Moorefield: Tom Kinsella; Liam Callaghan, Liam Healy, Sean Healy; Aaron Masterson, Mark Dempsey, James Murray; Cian O’Connor, Daryl Flynn; Ian Meehan, Eddie Heavey, Kevin Murnaghan; Ronan Sweeney, Eanna O’Connor, Niall Hurley Lynch. Subs: David Whyte for Masterson (45), Sean Dempsey for Sean Healy (57), Padraig O’Flynn for Callaghan (61), Aaron Mullins for Hurley Lynch (62).

Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).