A stirring second half show from the Westerns wasn’t enough to hit back against Roche Emmets in Reaghstown on Tuesday evening, as goals from Terence Sweeney and Anthony Durnin – and eight points from Tommy Durnin – couldn’t prevent a fourth league defeat of the campaign.
The home side were 11 points in arrears with less than 25 minutes to play but fought back to within striking distance of their opponents. It was ultimately not enough in the end, losing 2-14 to 2-17. But, while they can take heart from their late improvement there’s still work to do.
The men from Reaghstown have enjoyed a slight upturn in fortunes of late. A win last time out against Stabannon Parnells saw them rise a few place in the league standings while back-to-back wins in the Kevin Mullen Plate Shield has provided some light relief away from league pressures and the impending Championship campaign.
A plate final against John Mitchels is to come, but attention returned to the league yesterday with the visit of the team from Rathduff. The two sides did meet back in February when a 17 point win for Roche condemned the Westerns to the Kevin Mullen Plate – and pressed home the potential struggles that may lie ahead in 2017.
There was no such struggle for the Westerns early on. Within 59 seconds, they had hit the back of the net. Terence Sweeney got on the end of Tommy Durnin’s forward pass and sweetly struck a shot that dipped over the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net.
Two more points from Mick Martin and Trevor Baylon soon followed, the latter an effort that curled inside the post after another Durnin pick up. However, that promising start wasn’t to be a portent of things to come. The home side would wait another 22 minutes for a further score.
Roche scored nine unanswered points as they took complete control of the encounter. Ciaran Campbell’s point only briefly stemmed the tide. Seconds later, a quick move upfield saw Barry O’Hare feed Kevin O’Callaghan who looped the ball over stranded goalkeeper Jonny Brennan to Dermot Carthy who had a tap-in at the back post.
Just prior to the break, the two sides exchanged points. Carthy extended Roche’s lead before Tommy Durnin made no mistake from a free, kicked out of his hands to leave it 1-04 to 1-10.
The half time interval proved a respite but there looked like little the home team could do to halt a seemingly unstoppable charge from Roche. The men in blue extended their six point lead to 11 within five minutes of the restart. O’Callaghan’s low finish across Brennan left the Westerns with a mountain to climb – and amidst a host basic errors in the backline, the game seemed lost.
Sweeney pulled one back and that sparked something in the Reaghstown side. Ciaran Scriven’s drilled goalbound effort was turned over the bar by the defender and then a superb Westerns move saw them score the game’s fourth goal. Sub Patrick Kerley, Scriven and Tommy Durnin were all involved with Tommy feeding brother Anthony who kept his cool and fired a shot low to the goalkeeper’s left. 2-06 to 2-14.
Whilst they still had a mountain to climb, Louth man Tommy showed his consistency from the boot to hit three frees over the bar in the space of three minutes. Dan O’Connell’s point kept six points between the sides but two more frees from Durnin and a excellent finish from Scriven, with no angle to work with, made it a three point game.
The visitors from Dundalk were guilty of presenting the younger Durnin with countless opportunities to take aim from frees – and the 24-year-old was only too happy to oblige. However, the last ten minutes saw the assualt subside somewhat. Roche defended well, with Westerns endeavours to work a goal opportunity proving fruitless.
They almost got in when Kerley was poised to find an unmarked Tommy Durnin in front of goal, but the substitute slipped at the vital moment. Durnin added two further frees, electing to take a point with the latter in injury time when a goal was needed. Two Roche scores kept them at bay though – and a noteworthy second half showing wasn’t enough.
WESTERNS GFC: Jonny Brennan, PJ Marron, James Ward, Colin Martin, Sean McGuinness, Stephen Boylan, Dylan Ogle, Tommy Durnin (0-08), Anthhony Durnin (1-00), Ciaran Scriven (0-02), Terence Sweeney (1-01), Mick Martin (0-01), Ciaran Campbell (0-01), Johnnie Lynch, Trevor Baylon (0-01).
Subs: Patrick Kerley for Johnnie Lynch, Conor Kerr for Ciaran Campbell
ROCHE EMMETS: Evin Quigley, Liam Rice, Harry O’Connell, Ciaran Savage, Gerry Murphy (0-1), Liam Carthy, Dermot Carthy (1-3), David Quigley, Dan O’Connell (0-2), Cathal Byrne, Robert Mackin, Caoimhín Reilly; Kevin Callaghan (1-3), Barry O’Hare (0-5), Liam Dawe (0-2).
Subs: Owen O’Hare (0-1), Thomas Campbell, Kevin Quigley.