Whatever happens in the Division 1 promotion/relegation playoff with Newtown Blues to come, Hunterstown Rovers ensured they would end the 2017 campaign with someone new in the cabinet on Thursday beating O’Raghallaighs 3-15 to 1-04 in Darver to win the Paddy Sheelan Shield.
Up by two points at half time, Jim Mathews’ men surged away from their opponents in the second half. The Drogheda side didn’t score at all after the 16th minute of the game. Alan Landy added to his first half strike with another after the break and Paul Carrie’s goal was the icing on top of a strong display. Ryan Burns hit 0-05 all in the second half.
Now with just one more game to play, Rovers will face a tougher test against the Blues in a match that may be played in the next two weeks. Here, bar a strirring 15 minutes or so early on, the O’Raghallaighs didn’t offer much resistance. Having lost against the Blues in lat year’s Shield final, Rovers have gone one further in 2017. That’s progress.
Landy and Keith Brennan hit Hunterstowns’s first points of the game after a slow start. It was 0-02 each before Glen Mathews pointed and Paul Carrie, deployed in the forward line on his return to the lineup, finished a good move involving Landy and captain David Finn. The O’Raghallaighs carved through the Rovers backline for a goal either side of scores from their lively full forward paring. That was as good as it got for the men in green-and-white hoops.
Hunterstown’s goal arrived 22 minutes in. Great build-up from Finn and Carrie was finished expertly by Landy, who found the bottom corner. Landy then pointed from Paddy Mooney’s pass and Joe Flanaghan was forced into denying Landy a second. A very quick move upfield involving Finn, Brennan and Ryan Ward gave a glimpse of what Rovers could do. Carrie’s score left it 1-06 to 1-04 at half time.
In fairness, Hunterstown could count themselves fortunate to be up following a half riddled with poor handling and misfire in front of the posts. Burns was having no luck while Ward and Carrie got a few efforts all wrong. It was a similar story on Saturday when Naomh Fionnbarra were dispatched. Again, Rovers stepped it up.
Finn’s well taken effort got the scoring underway in the second half in Darver – as the skies darkened and night cooled even more so. It’s always perishing at the Centre of Excellence. What didn’t survive long in the cold was the O’Raghallaighs’s hopes of getting back into the game.
Burns scored from play and a free and then Brennan found Landy who checked inside and hammered into the net from close range. 2-09 to 1-04. Almost instantly, Tony McKenna was shown what appeared to be a very harsh black card by referee Kevin Carroll. Padraig Mathews replaced him, but it would have have little effect on the game.
McKenna had a good game and it was a shame to see it cut short so prematurely. It didn’t tell for Rovers as Burns kicked a 45 and sub Brendan Lennon put over with his left foot. Padraig Mathews ended a brilliant Rovers by arrowing an effort over, while Burns and Eddie Burke completed the point scoring. Paul Carrie’s late goal was straightforward but emphatic.
Brian Mathews and Martin Lennon were solid in particular for Hunterstown when the Rats did come forward. They hit a few wides when opportunities presented themselves while Niall Carrie had one save to make. He did so expertly from 11 at his near post.
HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS: Niall Carrie, Martin Lennon, Paul Taaffe, Brian Mathews, Patrick Taaffe, Richard Taaffe, David Finn (0-01), Ryan Ward, Tony McKenna, Glen Mathews (0-01), Paul Carrie (1-02), Paddy Mooney, Alan Landy (2-02), Ryan Burns (0-05), Keith Brennan (0-01).
Subs: Brendan Lennon (0-01) for Paddy Mooney, Padraig Mathews (0-01) for Tony McKenna (Black card), Eddie Burke (0-01) for Glen Mathews, Richard Cunningham for Paul Taaffe, Niall Taaffe for Paul Carrie.