O'Raghallaigh's forward Rúairí Moore. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Anchor Tours SFC group four
St. Joseph's 0-13 O'Raghallaigh's 1-12
St. Joseph's were left to rue a big chance missed as a Rúairí Moore-inspired O'Raghallaigh's put themselves on course for the knockout stages of the Senior Football Championship at the Grove on Saturday night.
Always a formidable opponent in the Castlebellingham surroundings, a strong finish to the first half helped the Joes to assert their authority on proceedings. They led by double scores at the turnaround, 0-8 to four, but were ultimately left counting the cost of 10 first half wides, a tally which would finish at 14, as the Division Two league leaders usurped them in the lead following a stirring third quarter display.
Moore was the architect of their comeback, scoring three from play before fetching gloriously in midfield to start the attack which resulted in 'skipper Ben Rogan palming to the net. The goal, 11 minutes from full-time, installed O'Ragh's with their biggest lead of the encounter, three points.
The loss of Joes talisman Conall Smyth was another decisive factor. The diminutive livewire was key to their relentless run just before the interval, where they reeled off five unanswered points to lead by four. That surge followed the moment of the match when veteran custodian Seamus Quigley stooped low to his left to deny Rogan's goalbound drive.
Another significant contributor to the shift in dominance was the control the Drogheda side assumed at midfield. The basis of the Joes' earlier upturn in fortunes was the initiative they held at centre-field, but once losing this, their grip on affairs evidently became weaker.
Having reduced the gap to just one within five minutes of the second period beginning, Mickey Conlon's charges were on a roll and despite a quickfire brace from the tireless Dáire Smyth and Alan Quigley, O'Ragh's levelled with points from Barry Flanagan (free) - another who stepped forward in his side's time of need - Eoin Moore and Rúairí Moore. Then came the goal, that had a hint of 'square ball' about it.
Dáire Smyth returned serve with his third minor of the match, but the final four points would be shared as the closing margin stood at two. And to compound the losers' misery, Killian Staunton was dismissed on a second yellow card in added time.
A chance the Dromiskin/Darver men will no doubt dwell upon until their meeting with O'Connell's in a fortnight's time, they'll be counting on O'Ragh's doing them a favour against their neighbours next weekend.
St. Joseph's: Seamus Quigley; Shane McQuillan, Conor Neary, Alan Lynch; Stefan Potts, Liam O'Leary, Craig Doherty, Tómas Smyth (0-1), Killian Staunton; Jack Mulligan (0-1), Dáire Smyth (0-3), Peter Brennan; Alan McKenna (0-1), Conall Smyth (0-3), Alan Quigley (0-4)
Subs: Óisín McGuinness for Conall Smyth, Aidan Kieran for Mulligan
O'Raghallaigh's: Joe Flanagan; Tómas Callan, Ciarán Brassil, Stephen Murphy; Eoin Moore (0-2), James Moonan, Seán Grennan; Alan Doyle, Robert Mulroy; Daniel Morgan (0-1), Barry Flanagan (0-5, four frees), Olan Walshe; Rúairí Moore (0-4, one free), Ben Rogan (1-0), Chris Smyth
Subs: Dean Byrne for Murphy, John Matthews for Grennan
Referee: David Fedigan (Hunterstown Rovers)