All news

2-7 Heaven For Debutant Gavin As Rathvilly Get Off To A Winning Start

Brian O'Donoghue
August 27, 2023

Rathvilly 2-10

Palatine 0-8 

There’s only one thing to talk about in terms of highlights. Rathvilly corner forward, Liam Gavin. 

The young man kicked a scintillating 2-3 from play, nonchalantly stroked over a ‘45 and converted 3 frees with all the look of a player with 10 years experience, not someone playing senior football championship for the very first time. 

His performance was a lesson for all modern GAA forwards. Stay up top, don’t get dragged into deep waters and be alert and stay alert when needed- and my word was he alert.

Remember now, his two goals came at the end of the game, he already had seven points chalked up, but he showed a ruthless killer instinct and a very cool head in the heat of battle to bag two goals to seal victory for his side. 

There are other things to talk about in terms of game incidents, for sure. A lot of ill-discipline from Palatine cost them dearly at crucial moments but they will have legitimate questions to ask about the black card given to Bryan McMahon with ten minutes to play. McMahon was visibly shocked by the decision. 

Rathvilly would also feel the black card given to Ryan Sibbald was a bigger punishment than deserved, albeit in the first half, but maybe a neutral would say it all balanced out in the end. 

There was also the incident where Conor O’Doherty was hung out to dry with a shocking hand pass from a teammate and O’Doherty found himself on the wrong end of what looked like a shoulder to shoulder charge from Ed Finnegan. But it was one hell of a wallop, a real sickener. Jonathon Murphy felt Finnegan’s challenge was illegal.

Finnegan was booked for the challenge and a free awarded to Palatine, but more worrying for all in Netwatch Cullen Park was the stumble O’Doherty took when being helped off the field. He may well have just tripped but the majority of onlookers all seemed to believe he was disorientated if not concussed, however he came back on to the field eight minutes later.

Those who know O’Doherty will know how fierce and genuine a competitor he is, but there was a sense of worry about the players welfare on his return to play. 

From the perspective in the press box at the back of the stand, we were just about in line with the incident- you’d need to watch it back to know for certain- but it looked on first viewing like a square shoulder, time will tell, and hopefully O’Doherty is ok.  

Finnegan, while distraught to get a yellow card for the challenge was instrumental in the Rathvilly win. A dogged, steely performance where he covered every blade of grass on the field and was involved in almost every Rathvilly score in some shape or form before the two goals. 

Reigning champions Palatine were the first to settle into the game on Saturday evening but not until the sides had scored five points between them. 30 seconds into the game Conor Doyle was fouled after a lung bursting run from the throw in and Liam Gavin tapped over for his first of the evening. 

Exactly one minute later Joshua Egan capitalised on a mistake in the Rathvilly defence for a point before Gavin added his second score, this time from play on the end of a move involving Sibbald, Doyle and Murphy. 

In response, Bryan McMahon kicked a thumper of a shot from 45m to make it 0-2 to 0-2. It seemed if the posts had been another 10m away it still would have went over. Liam Gavin put Rathvilly in the lead from a free but then Rathvilly wouldn’t score for ten minutes. 

Shane O’Neill kicked his first of three frees to settle Palatine and Rathvilly had a penalty shout waved away on Brandon Kelly but this was a spell of Pal dominance and they now led 5-3.

To break that spell it would take the experienced, and rather large right foot of Brendan Murphy to get Rathvilly resuscitated. A thunderous effort from outside the 45m line reduced the deficit to one point. 

A moment later a combination of Brandon Kelly and Liam Gavin saw what could have been a goal converted to a point and the sides were level at 5-5. 

The game then entered 16 scoreless minutes and was lacking in scoring opportunities until two minutes into injury time when Conor Lawlor converted to give Palatine the lead at the break 6-5.

Palatine would only kick two scores in the second half in the 45th and 47th minutes, a poor return for the county champions. 

Rathvilly flew into the second half and brought on the vastly experienced Brian Murphy at the break. Liam Gavin picked up where he left off and kicked two points in the first 15minutes of the second half. Andrew Kehoe and Shane O’Neill responded and the scoreboard read Rathvilly 0-7 Palatine 0-8. 

What followed was probably the turning of the game with 10 minutes to play. A Palatine attack ended with Conor Lawlor having a snapshot on goal which hopped off the left hand post at the Dublin Road end. The resulting breakaway saw Bryan McMahon challenge Conor Doyle as he neared goal and the result was a black card and a pointed free from Liam Gavin. 

The resulting kickout was caught at full stretch by Brian Murphy and he played a one-two before slotting a nice score. Again Palatine attacked but a breakaway counter attack from their opponents resulted in another Brian Murphy point. Rathvilly had their noses in front and tails were up. 

Had Lawlor’s attempt on goal hit the net who knows how the game might have turned out. But bad luck turned to worse luck for Palatine when a loose ball was chased by Finbarr Kavanagh and Liam Gavin who found himself out the field on this occasion and used nice soccer skills to avoid a challenge only to be pulled back by Kavanagh who got a black card to accompany his earlier yellow and he was sent off. Palatine were now down to 13 men with six minutes to play.  

However with three minutes of normal time remaining an error with the Palatine kickout ultimately released Liam Gavin and he duly slotted his first championship goal for his club. 

Rathvilly introduced Padhraig Bolger and his first touch was a right footed ball into the Palatine goal mouth. Gavin adopted a poachers position and finished to the back of the net. 

All in all this was a typical Palatine, Rathvilly contest. Rathvilly left Netwatch Cullen Park the happier but there’s a lot of football to be played in 2023. 

Rathvilly: Regan Murphy; Kyle Byrne, Darragh Curran, Colin Byrne; Ryan Sibbald, Josh Moore, Paraic Deering; Ed Finnegan, Conor Doyle; Adam Burgess, Brendan Murphy (0-1), Jake Elliott; Brian Smith, Brandon Kelly, Liam Gavin (2-7, 1’45, 3f) Subs: Brian Murphy (0-2 1f) for Adam Burgess, Alan Kelly for Brian Smith, Conor O’Neill for Ed Finnegan, Padhraig Bolger for Jake Elliott, Jamie Byrne for Ryan Sibbald. 

Palatine: Craig Kearney; Conor O'Doherty, Cian Cashman, Gavin Healy, David Reid, Stephen Reilly, Darragh Fitzpatrick; Conor Lawlor (0-1), Finbarr Kavanagh; Shane O'Neill (0-4f) Bryan Mc Mahon (0-1), Jack Deacy, Joshua Egan (0-1), Conor Crowley, Andrew Kehoe (0-1). Subs: Tomas Kenny for O’Doherty (temp), Tomas Kenny for Stephen Reilly, Brandon Cassidy for Jack Deacy

Referee: Jonathan Murphy (St. Mullins)