Raheen back in the IFC final
Coming into this contest, the question was if St. Brigid’s, who had scored ten times or less in three of their four championship games so far, could find a way to stay close to a Raheen side that looked a lot sharper in front of the posts.
Tullamore Court Hotel Offaly Intermediate Football Championship Semi-final
St Brigid's 0-7
The weather Gods certainly did what they could for the Croghan men by sending torrential rain in to wash the country, ruling out the possibility of a shootout. When veteran attackers David Egan and Bob Troy popped over two points in the first four minutes, it looked as if the stars were aligning for St. Brigid’s in their quest to record a memorable upset victory.
Then Raheen replied with four in the next eight minutes, and the result never looked to be in doubt from there. With the weight of expectation on their shoulders, they set about their work in a calm, methodical fashion, and looked after the basics well – incredibly well, given the likelihood of handling errors. Raheen’s discipline was on the money even though they retained their combative edge in the battle for turnovers and breaking ball, they packed the defence and denied their opponents any space, while doing a good job of creating room for Dylan Hyland and Conor Carroll at the other end, and they created the better chances.
Admittedly, they failed to take too many of them, at least after that initial burst. The quality of the points scored by Kaelyn Thompson, Hyland and Carroll in that early run was right out of the top drawer and while that standard wasn’t maintained, they easily did enough to hold St. Brigid’s at bay. Just one more point – a free from Hyland that was awarded just when it looked as if Adam Kelly might be about to score the game’s first goal – was added by the men in red before the interval, as further scores from Egan and Troy left the minimum between the teams at the break, 0-5 to 0-4.
Another Egan free, two minutes after half-time, levelled the game, but that was to be St. Brigid’s last score for 22 minutes, during which time Raheen scored six without reply. It was never champagne football, or anything like it. St. Brigid’s never felt the sharp bite and the potent venom of the cobra, instead they were squeezed and suffocated by a boa constrictor, who simply denied them oxygen and waiting patiently for the organs to fail. Thomas Mooney, David Egan and David Glennon all tried to punch holes in various ways, and Glennon was the only one who saw any chink of light, finding himself in possession around 15 metres out from goal in what was to be a crucial moment in the game with 12 minutes to play. His snapshot on the turn hit the target but was lacking power and didn’t force Mark Byrne to stretch too far.
That was their narrow window of opportunity, and they were unable to scramble through it. As the contest grew increasingly scrappy and long passages of play ceased to be a feature of the contest, David Egan popped over one free to break his team’s long scoring drought with five minutes to play, but Raheen made sure that was to be as good as it got.
Two minutes into stoppage time, St. Brigid’s desperation to chase the game caught up with them as they were dispossessed coming out of their own half and Paddy Rigney immediately spotted Liam Fox off his line. A 25 metre lob to an empty net removed any lingering traces of doubt, and concluded a performance that may have lacked flair and panache, but certainly didn’t lack for structure, discipline, control and execution.
RAHEEN: Mark Byrne; Eamon Bolger, David Carthy, Adam Kelly; Brian Corcoran, Mikey Keogh, Liam Boland; Declan Byrne, James Lalor; Niall Dempsey, Jimmy Nolan, Glen Hassett; Dylan Hyland, Conor Carroll, Kaelyn Thompson. SUB: Paddy Rigney for Hassett (49 mins).
ST. BRIGID’S: Liam Fox; Seán Óg Cocoman, Shay Hannon, William Molloy; Dillon Donoghue, Liam Cocoman, Thomas Mooney; Cian Donohoe, Dan Molloy; Rob Hoey, David Egan, David Boland; Evan Rigney, Bob Troy, Dean Kennedy. SUBS: David Glennon for Kennedy (half-time), Seán Briody for Boland (49 mins), Aaron Kennedy for Hoey (60 mins).
Referee: Chris Dwyer
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Dylan Hyland (Raheen): An unimaginative choice perhaps, but still unquestionably the right one. Hyland’s class in front of the posts was invaluable, and while he’s unlikely to get so many possessions in one-on-one scenarios in the county final, it still wasn’t an easy day to find the target and he did so seven times.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Through a combination of the relative lack of pace on the St. Brigid’s side and some disciplined defending from Raheen, the Croghan club found it impossible to get any clear looks at Mark Byrne’s goal during the game. The one exception was 18 minutes into the second half, when a lapse in defensive concentration allowed David Glennon to find a few yards of space about 15 metres out from the Raheen goal, and he was picked out by a quick Dan Molloy free. Glennon’s shot lacked power however and proved to be a simple save for Byrne. It was a missed chance they badly needed.
Given the conditions, Chris Dwyer offered the two teams a bit more leeway to play a physical game than many of his contemporaries might have done, and there were times in the latter stages of the contest when it looked as if the contest might cross the line from abrasive into confrontational. It worked out fine however, and there’s no doubt that the game was more enjoyable for neutrals as a result.
This was a big weekend for county players all across Offaly, and certainly Dylan Hyland and James Lalor did their reputations no harm at all. Cian Donohoe will be disappointed that he didn’t influence the game a bit more however, and there may have been a case for deploying him directly up against Hyland, rather than letting him wade through the mire of bodies in the middle third.
The absence of a covered area for supporters was keenly felt here, though Daingean can count themselves unlucky that the weather turned so badly for this game. Parking and stewarding were all well-looked after, before and after the game, while the pitch held up well through all the rain, notwithstanding one obvious patch in front of the refreshments stand where there was standing water. Should the absence of cover be a consideration when allocating these games however, is a question that will be asked.
Wides: Raheen – 5 (3 in the first half); St. Brigid’s - 4 (2 in the first half)
Yellow Cards: Raheen – 3 (Hyland, 52 mins; Carroll, 53 mins; Corcoran, 54 mins); St. Brigids – 1 (Hannon, 56 mins).
Scorers for Raheen: Dylan Hyland 0-7 (0-4f), Conor Carroll 0-3 (0-1m), Paddy Rigney 1-0, Kaelyn Thompson 0-1.
Scorers for St. Brigid’s: David Egan 0-4 (0-3f), Bob Troy 0-2, Thomas Mooney 0-1.
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