Hunterstown Rovers remain top of the League Division 2 table this evening as Padraig Mathews’ brace of goals helped Jim Mathews side see off St Fechins by a score of 3-07 to 0-09 at Pairc Baile Fiach.
Half forward Mathews hit the back of the net once in each half and his goals proved the difference in a game that could have been all but out of Rovers reach by half time. The men from Termonfeckin – without intercounty players Bevan Duffy and Ronan Holcroft – were guilty of wasting a glut of chances in front of the post and paid the price as Hunterstown proved lethal in front of goal.
Both teams had won their opening three league matches of 2017 and came into the game occupying first and second place in the division. Without their own Louth star Ryan Burns, the home side knew putting on a performance in their sternest test yet was a must.
The Fechins came out of the traps quickly and took a three point lead inside five minutes. Hunterstown’s first point came as Keith Brennan got forward as part of a neat move that finished in Glen Mathews centering to Alan Landy. The goalkeeper palmed over his fisted goal attempt. Two more scores arrived from the Fechins – amidst a flurry of wides despite having the wind on their side – before Rovers hit back with the first goal of the evening.
Landy knocked the ball down for Muiris O Suilleabhain and he fed Mathews who blasted the ball high into the net past helpless goalkeeper Paul King. Glen Mathews scored a tidy point eight minutes later to make it 1-02 to 0-06, latching onto O Suilleabhain’s pass and dispatching a shot over the bar. Within a minute, Rovers had the ball in the net again.
From a free kick, Paul Carrie’s point effort fell short and when it looked like the Fechins full back was set to claim the ball under the bar, he inexplicably missed the ball altogether and it bounced in for 2-02 to 0-06. The hard-working Brendan Lennon saw a left-foot attempt sail over before the half whistle as Rovers extended their unlikely lead to three points.
Rain was falling intermittantly throughout the game at Pairc Baile Fiach, conditions which resulted in no shortage of players slipping on the surface. It also made ball handling conditons difficult at times, but with a lead to build on, Huntertown handled it better than their visitors in the second half.
The sides swapped points in the first 15 minutes of the second period with excellent points from Padraig Mathews and David Finn ensured the three point lead was maintained. Richie Cunningham in the backs impressed and Paddy Mooney was a constant nuisance in the half forward line in that period. As they game wore on, the Fechins faded and Rovers stretched their advantage.
Mathews scored his second goal of the game on 47 minutes. Taking in Landy’s pass, he swivelled and squeezed a shot between two backs and in. After a Fechins point, Mooney got himself on the scoresheet before with eight minutes remaining, Landy added to his opening score of the game by slotting over neatly for the last.
It’s testament to the start Rovers have made in the league this year that this seven point victory was by some margin their least comfortable win of the campaign. There will be tougher tests to come, but Jim Mathews and Gerry Reaburn can take great heart in their first four performances. Next up is Oliver Plunketts next Friday.
HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS: Niall Carrie, Richie Cunningham, Brian Mathews, Martin Lennon, Keith Brennan, Paul Carrie (1-00), Patrick Mathews, Tony Taaffe, David Finn (0-01), Paddy Mooney (0-01), Padraig Mathews (2-01), Brendan Lennon (0-01), Alan Landy (0-02), Muiris O Suilleabhain, Glen Mathews (0-01).