Senior's lose out

November 7, 2018

On Saturday evening as one looked across at the unoccupied stand in Aughrim resplendent in the blue and gold seating assuring us all that we were in Cill Mantáin, one's thoughts turned to our club's burdensome indebtedness to the county's development fund. While one cannot deny the need there was for the upgrading of the stand and the role it may have in improving the image of the county to outsiders, one wonders if the dual projects of it and Ballinakill being pursued simultaneously have not placed too much of a burden on clubs already financially stretched. Many of these clubs have seen monies earmarked for essential club development being siphoned from their treasuries to fund these undertakings.

The occasion, on the off-chance that you are not aware, which had us in Aughrim on Saturday was the 2nd round of the County Senior Football Championship between Éire Óg and Baltinglass – on paper classified as a David and Goliath affair with Éire Óg in the role of David. But while it did prove to be a bridge too far for Na Clocha Liatha, the team's performance belied this lowly assessment.

From the throw-in the Greystonians gave indication that they were not going to be overwhelmed and indeed held the upper hand in the opening stages. However a series of unforced and enforced errors – the ball did not always have the anticipated rebound – saw some promising movements break down. Also Baltinglass used a sweeper who covered the space between the full- forward and half-forward lines which helped to crowd the area around the '50' , hence smothering attacking ball and making it difficult to deliver quality ball to the inside. So despite all the good work outfield it took until the 13th minute for us to register our 1st score. On the other hand Baltinglass in their excursions upfield had, with admirable economy, knocked over 4 points. This had stirred doubts in the minds of the seasiders' followers but our fears of capitulation were happily dispelled soon after by a step-up in the confidence of our lads' play and by 2 excellent points on the 16th and 22nd minute by Declan O'Mahoney. Disaster then struck. A Baltinglass free on the '40' , a short delivery, lapse in concentration of our backs, ball delivered cleverly to lower corner of net. Surely that is it we thought. But no! Excellent points from Karl Manahan, Sam Thompson and Darren Hayden followed and the score stood at a respectable 1-6 to 0-6 at the break.

Éire Óg scored the first 2 points of the 2nd half and it was nip and tuck after that on the scoreboard until the 47th minute when the score stood at 1-8 to 0-11. On 53 minutes Baltinglass again took the lead. This proved to be the herald for a flurry of unanswered points for them and the game ended 1-15 to 0-11.

It is hard to explain our last 7 minute collapse. Was it that the effort to that point drained our resources? Had the team lost its shape with all the substitutions? Had Baltinglass found that extra gear on the realisation that Éire Óg was breathing down their necks.

The Éire Óg players and management can take a lot of positives from the contest. Being in Division 1A of the league had placed them at a big disadvantage going into the match in that they had not previously played a team of Baltinglasses calibre. And yet they were competitive for 53 minutes of the game and even had quite a degree of momentum at that time. The game was a huge learning experience for them and hopefully will have led them to a realisation of the team's weaknesses and so set about remedying them. Also they will have learned what is required to be successful at this level. They will have gained confidence in the knowledge that they are there or thereabouts.

The Baltinglass followers complimented the team on its efforts and said they should prove to be formidable opponents in the next round. They singled out the excellence of Éire Óg's point scoring.

The game was preceded by a minute's silence as a gesture of respect for grandmother of Darren, Mrs. Betty Hayden, who died recently.

The team and management express their appreciation of Paul Dunne having taken the time from his busy schedule to wish them well as they set off for the match. See Facebook for picture