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Rathvilly Leave it Late as Old Leighlin Head for Quarter Finals

Brian O'Donoghue
September 11, 2023

Rathvilly 0-15

Old Leighlin 1-11

If you want it in bullet points:

•Old Leighlin started well but didn’t have the firepower to get them through 60 minutes. They still have a strong spine of a team though. 

•Rathvilly kicked 15 points, but 14 wides and dropped 3 balls short. Started slow but finished strong. 

•Brendan Murphy. 

That’s it really in a nutshell. Old Leighlin were fast out of the traps. Cathal Coughlan had a point on the board within a minute and Shane Dooley doubled the lead in as many minutes. 

Rathvilly rolled back the years as Alan Kelly, Ed Finnegan and Brendan Murphy linking up and Murphy landed a typical bomb from 45m.

Aaron Amond took possession following the restart and put Old Leighlin 0-3 to 0-1 up. Sean Bambrick and Brian Smith had a foot race almost the full length of the pitch before Bambrick found himself close to goal and he put Old Leighlin three points up. 

Old Leighlin had a goal chance whipped away after a Seamus Kinsella shot came off the post and Alan Kelly kept Rathvilly in touch at the other end with a good score. Seamus Kinsella then kicked a worldie amidst a clatter of bodies before Brandon Kelly got his first score of this years championship to make it Old Leighlin 0-5 Rathvilly 0-3.

The next five minutes belonged to Old Leighlin. An outrageous effort from Cathal Coughlan sent a real message of intent from the western Carlow side and if that wasn’t enough, they came again and the unlikely Tadgh Roche finished out his run to get on the end of an attack and bury the ball in the Rathvilly net. 

At 1-6 to 0-3 and half time approaching, questions were being asked of Rathvilly. They began to answer them with three points in a row. Conor Doyle kicked over a free, Brendan Murphy kicked over another 45m stunner and then a game changing moment at the end of the half. 

Cathal Coughlan advanced down the heart of the Rathvilly defence and seemingly had the goal at his mercy. He pulled the trigger, and out of nowhere, Barry-John Molloy got some part of his body in the way. From that block the ball was worked down the opposite end of the field and Alan Kelly slotted a point to leave a goal between the teams. 1-6 to 0-6 at half time. 

In that first half the game had 12 wides. Eight of them fell the way of Rathvilly, and four for Old Leighlin. It hadn’t been a bad game of football, but it lacked a certain “je ne sais quoi”.

Remember as well, at the time the possible permutations meant that as things stood with Eire Og leading Palatine in Fenagh that it would be Eire Og topping the group with Old Leighlin second and Rathvilly third. 

90 seconds into the second half Conor Doyle scored a very good point that finished off good link up play between Alan Kelly, Liam Gavin and Brandon Kelly. 

Old Leighlin responded with a Cathal Coughlan free and then when it appeared Shane Dooley had a goal on, pace wasn’t on his side and he had to settle for a point. 

Ed Finnegan and Brian Murphy hit two in a row for Rathvilly as word filtered through from Fenagh that Eire Og were gone five points up. 

Coughlan went narrowly wide with a shot off the post and in response Brendan Murphy kicked two sublime points in a row. There are plenty of players who can kick points from they types of ranges that Murphy kicks. But few of them are midfielders, who often begin moves as well as end them. Few of them do it as often or as consistently. Murphy kicked five points from play on the night in a clear man of the match performance. 

A response was needed from the blue and white side, and it came. Kinsella kicked over a 13m free before Aaron Amond collected possession on the half way mark and turned to set off at the Rathvilly goal. He moved at great pace and it looked like he was going to open up a goal opportunity similar to his exploits against Eire Og, but the space got closed off and he had to fist over to raise only a white flag, but it was a good score and his side were in the lead by two points. 

The game veered into sloppy territory as both sides tried to take control. Rathvilly gathered possession from a kickout from an Old Leighlin wide and Brian Murphy set up his brother Brendan for his fifth point from play. Brian added another point of his own to level the game and we entered the final six minutes. 

A draw was enough for both teams to advance, regardless of the result in Fenagh, but both teams really wanted to win this game. 

With three minutes to go, Dara Curran and Brendan Murphy combined to set up Kevin Murphy and he put Rathvilly in the lead for the first time in the game. Seamus Kinsella levelled matters again, and Aaron Amond was narrowly wide with a long range free. Amond has a right to feel hard done by. The free was blown and the ball booted away by a Rathvilly player. The ball was brought forward, but no where near 13m forward. Almost as if the official felt moving it the actual required distance would make the shot too easy. 

Rathvilly breathed a sigh of relief before Conor Doyle eventually kicked the winner. He had an earlier shot that was kept in play by the long reach of Brian Murphy, the ball was recycled, and Doyle got a second bit of the cherry to seal the victory. 

The game was slightly marred near the end as Brendan Murphy and Ian Atkinson chased a loose ball. That challenge between the two looked on first viewing as all fair but Murphy ended up on the ground, with the ball, after the whistle had blown. He was immediately attended to by two Old Leighlin players who wanted the ball to resume the game. 

On first viewing their attempts were open handed, if on the aggressive side, but judging by the reaction of the Rathvilly players there may well have been closed fists involved. 

The whole thing could have been avoided by more assertive refereeing, but that was asking too much. 

Both teams advance. Rathvilly straight through to the semi finals and Old Leighlin will take on Bagenalstown Gaels in the quarter final. 

Mount Leinster Rangers face Eire Og. 

It’s all still to play for! 

Rathvilly: Regan Murphy; Barry-John Molloy, Dara Curran, Colin Byrne; Adam Burgess, Jamie Byrne, Robbie Ryan; Brendan Murphy(0-5), Conor Doyle(0-3), Ed Finnegan, Brandon Kelly(0-1), Kevin Murphy(0-1); Alan Kelly(0-2), Brian Smith, Liam Gavin. Subs: Brian Murphy(0-2f) for Brian Smith, Jake Elliott for Robbie Ryan, Padhraig Bolger for Adam Burgess, Conor O’Neill for Ed Finnegan. 

Old Leighlin: Steven Scallon; Shane Dooley(0-2), Sean Bambrick(0-1), Roy Sheehy; Tadgh Roche(1-0), Niall Roche, Kevin Carpenter; David Bambrick, Ian Atkinson; Cathal Coughlan(0-3), Aaron Amond(0-2), James Dowling; Mikey Bambrick, Seamus Kinsella(0-3), Darragh Fitzgerald. Subs: Pauric Coughlan for Shane Dooley. 

Referee: Patrick Murphy (Fenagh)