Roche Emmets pip O’Connell’s in Louth intermediate championship thriller
Barry O’Hare was superb in leading Roche Emmets to top spot in the group for the first time in the intermediate ranks during a pulsating game with O’Connell’s at St Brigid’s Park on Saturday.
he veteran attacker kicked six points in the second half, including an injury-time free to nudge the blues in front before sealing the deal at the death after both sides hit the net across the intervening period.
Ultimately, Roche were the slightly better side with it having taken O’Connell’s until the second half to get a player other than Robert Quigley on the scoresheet and with the winners having shut down Cian Doyle’s route to goal, Paul McKeever’s men were unable to land the sucker punch they required.
They did, however, begin like the proverbial house on fire, knocking over the game’s opening three points. But up stood Roche’s 18-year-olds with Mark Byrne – who caused O’Connell’s endless problems as Emmets’ foremost attacker – and Dáire Reilly, with the first of two excellently-struck kicks from distance, hauling Jamie O’Hare’s outfit into contention.
Midfielder Liam Dawe was also having his best game since captaining the club to the junior championship in 2019 and the first of his three points during the opening period began a run where Roche converted seven of the next nine registers to lead 0-10 to six at the interval.
O’Connell’s No9 Seán Cairns had been the dominant performer prior to Roche hitting their stride but once settled into proceedings, with Barry O’Hare orchestrating matters from centre-forward, Emmets began to perforate gaps with willing runners and generate scores. The Dawe and Byrne brothers each had an active hand in the Faughart men assuming the initiative.
Now attacking the gust, O’Hare extended the gap to five upon the restart but then O’Connell’s enjoyed their most purple of patches with Niall Conlon growingly influential. Quigley was deadly from frees and after Andrew Keenan and Stuart Osborne landed beauties, the sides were on terms at 0-12 apiece entering the closing quarter.
Emmets could neither relieve the pressure nor locate their danger forwards, despite a storming second half by corner-back Adam McKay, and O’Connell’s duly took the lead twice through Quigley (2f) and Ciarán O’Brien.
Seán Dawe levelled for Roche and after referee Gerard Corrigan deemed O’Hare to have been fouled in a later move, with O’Connell’s desperately pleading for a free out, the leading marksman had Emmets ahead once more.
And, from the resulting play, Mark Byrne read John McLoughlin’s short kickout, intercepted, rounded the advanced ’keeper, who almost pulled down his shorts and underpants in attempting to disrupt the teenager’s route, and struck beneath the crossbar.
That seemed set to be that, only for a defensive mix-up to cause chaos at the other end with Doyle fouled inside the penalty area. Roche changed their custodian for the kick, but their manager’s namesake, Jamie O’Hare, was helpless to prevent Jackie Agnew from converting, reducing it to a single point game four minutes over time.
They got one last attack, O’Connell’s, but Quigley’s punt towards goal was met by a Roche fist and a swift breakout ended with Mark Byrne passing for Barry O’Hare to ensure victory.
ROCHE EMMETS: Evin Quigley; Adam McKay, David Quigley, Harry O’Connell; Seán Dawe 0-2, James McDonnell, Aidan Grant; Glen Stewart, Liam Dawe 0-3; Dáire Reilly 0-2, Barry O’Hare 0-6 (3f), Caoimhín Reilly; Kevin Callaghan, Shane Byrne 0-2 (1f), Mark Byrne 1-2 (0-1f, 0-1m). Subs: Peter Lynch for Callaghan, Jamie O’Hare for E Quigley.
O’CONNELL’S: John McLoughlin; Sam Shearman, Conor Byrne, David Hoey; Conor McGill, Jackie Agnew 1-0 (1p), Andrew Keenan 0-1; Ciarán O’Brien 0-1, Seán Cairns; Bernard Osborne 0-1, Niall Conlon 0-2 (1f), Conor Culligan; Emmet Byrne, Cian Doyle, Robert Quigley 0-10 (7f). Sub: Cailum Woods for Osborne.
REFEREE: Gerard Corrigan (Mattock Rangers).