O'Raghaillaighs' Eoin Moore goes flying under the challenge of Josh Arrowsmith (Geraldines) during the teams' clash at the Grove. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Senior Football Championship
Geraldines 0-23 1-10 O'Raghaillaigh's
A sterling second-half display by the Geraldines swept them into the final eight of the Senior Championship as Group Four winners on Saturday night.
The Gers didn't have it all their own way in Castlebellingham though as a plucky O’Raghallaigh’s outfit made them fight for their superiority.
Having gone to the interval level, the dismissal of Ciarán Brassil early in the second-half allowed the floodgates to open for Eamonn McEneaney's side as they ran out comfortable winners with captain Jim McEneaney hitting 0-10 in all.
The opening-period saw a mixture of caution and wastefulness unfold before Gerry Hoey drove up the field to open the scoring for the Gers from an narrow angle.
Matt Corcoran’s mark taking applied the required pressure that the O’Raghallaigh's defence simply couldn’t contain and some ambidextrous free-taking skills from Jim McEnenaney gave them an early five-points to one lead.
Searching for a way into the game, Joe Flanagan’s kick-outs provided the Drogheda side a much needed platform. The understudy county 'keeper launched several quick restarts in giving the O'Ragh's the required tonic.
Fellow county man Rúairí Moore played his part in the revival too as, more often than not, he was on the end of a scrap for possession in the middle sector, while his free-taking skills made sure they were rewarded for their efforts to make it all square at half-time.
Though, for the entire evening, the Gers had two pocket ace’s in their attack. Their inside duo of Shane O’Hanlon and Glen Trainor gave their markers a torrid time and it was only a matter of time before Mickey Conlon’s side buckled.
And so they did as five-minutes into the second-half O'Ragh's full-back Ciaran Brassil got his marching orders for a second yellow card as O'Hanlon and Trainor went on to amass seven-points between them.
This gave the game an inevitable feel, however, the O’Raghallaigh’s, to their credit, mounted a faint revival. Barry Flanagan redirected a dipping Ben Rogan free to the net with a punch to leave just one in it.
That was that, though, as the Haggardstown men overran the O’Raghallaigh’s in the final-quarter with Nicky Mackin and Paul Clarke scoring crowd pleasing points. McEneaney totalled his tally to 10 in the closing moments, while 10 also proved to be the game's winning margin.
Geraldines: Sean McEneaney; Kevin Pepper, Gareth Neacy, Paul Clarke (0-1); Jack Traynor, Gerard Hoey (0-1), Robert Lynch; Nicky Mackin (0-1), Paddy Hoey; Josh Arrowsmith (0-2), Jim McEneaney (0-10, eight frees), Matt Corcoran (0-1); Neil Jones, Shane O’Hanlon (0-3), Glen Trainor (0-4)
Subs: Tiarnan Hand for Pepper (12, black card), Seán Thornton for Corcoran (40, blood sub), Killian Dempsey for Jones (48), Seán Thornton for Lynch (53), Andrew Lynch for Hand (55, black card), Robbie Lynch for Traynor (59, black card)
O’Raghallaigh’s: Joe Flanagan; Tómas Callan, Ciaran Brassil, Stephen Kermode; Eoin Moore; Chris Smith, Seán Grennan; Robert Mulroy, James Moonan; Andrew Rogan, Barry Flanagan (1-2), Rúairí Moore; Alan Doyle (0-1), Ben Rogan, Eoin Morrison
Subs: John Mathews for Kermode (35), Stephen Murphy for Morrison (39), Dean Byrne for Andrew Rogan (47), Damien Boyle for Grennan (53), Jack Carr for Moonan (56)
Referee: Stephen Murphy (Naomh Máirtín)