GAA | Geraldines avoid the drop after blowing Cooley away in Haggardstown
Division One League | Geraldines 6–13 Cooley Kickhams 1–8
There were happy faces in Haggardstown on Saturday night as the Geraldines preserved their Division One status with a clinical victory over Cooley Kickhams.
After losing to Newtown Blues last week, Eamon McEneaney’s went into the game sitting second from bottom and occupying the relegation play-off spot.
However, their 20-point victory meant they leapfrogged the Newfoundwell side — who beat Mattock Rangers by one in Collon — on score difference to avoid the drop.
With a place in the top flight secure for next year, the Gers can now focus on next Saturday’s Senior Championship quarter-final replay with St Joseph’s in Castlebellingham and confidence will not be in short supply after a devastating attacking display.
Cooley, who arrived with nothing to play for, were left to rue a host of early wasted chances with Conor Rafferty, on three occasions, and Brian White missing the posts inside the opening eight minutes alone.
After both sides traded scores, Rafferty found his range in the ninth minute to put Cooley ahead but the Gers completely dismantled the peninsula side after that.
Jim McEneaney, who opened the scoring for the natives, tapped over a close range free after Matt Corcoran was crudely denied the chance to pull the trigger by Conor McGuinness.
The hosts pulled ahead in the 14th minute when Dara Hamill found a pocket of space and he offloaded to Corcoran who left Neil Gallagher with no chance, 1–2 to 0–2.
Brian White floated a free wide of the mark and the Gers went up the other end and punctured the Cooley backline again in quick succession with Corcoran cracking over with his left foot and Hamill cutting in from the right to follow suit.
Darren Marks hit a fine score for Cooley but they were all over the place defensively and McEneaney, Hamill and Corcoran combined for Sean Thornton to smash the ball into the roof of Gallagher’s unguarded net in the 19th minute.
Hamill curled a delicious effort over from the inside left and another McEneaney score stretched the lead to nine, 2–6 to 0–3, after just 24 minutes.
Cooley continued to look a complete shambles at the back and Hamill fired over with another free before the green and gold waters parted again to allow Corcoran another chance to gallop towards the posts only to see his run halted at the last minute.
The visitors side fared little better going forward with White squandering a chance to stem the tide with a dead ball which he sent off target.
Rafferty eventually pulled one back with a simple free but the Gers responded with the final score of the half, Hamill fisting over after collecting McEneaney’s pass to leave it 2–8 to 0–4 at the interval.
News of the Blues’ 1–8 to 0–4 lead over Mattock didn’t dampen the Geraldines’ enthusiasm and they hit goal number three in the opening minute of the second half when McEneaney’s looping ball was met by Corcoran who beat Gallagher to the punch.
White offered a little bit of respite with a free but Glen Trainor replied straight away before Kevin Pepper ventured forward from the back to win a free which McEneaney gobbled up.
White found the palms of Sean McEneaney’s hands with a free shortly after, summing up Cooley’s night.
In contrast, the home side flowed with Hamill and Corcoran running amok again, combining to set up Trainor for a well worked team goal.
McEneaney followed up his fifth point of the game by lashing the ball past the hapless Gallagher to raise a fifth green flag with 19 minutes still on the clock and Josh Arrowsmith became the sixth player in a green shirt to find his way on the scoresheet, making it 5–12 to 0–6.
Things eventually petered out with Marks tucking a nice consolation effort past Sean McEneaney with three minutes to play but the Gers had the final say with Hamill hitting goal number six goal in the dying seconds, securing his team a 6–13 to 1–8 win, and a place in the top tier in 2018.
GERALDINES: Sean McEneaney; Kevin Pepper, James Craven, Gareth Neacy; Paul Clarke, Gerard Hoey, Jack Traynor; Stephen Ready, Paddy Hoey; Sean Thornton (1–0), Matt Corcoran (2–1), Josh Arrowsmith (0–1); Dara Hamill (1–4, 1f), Jim McEneaney (1–5, 2f), Glen Trainor (1–2). Subs: Michael Rogers for S Reidy, 23 mins; Ryan Traynor for J Craven, 43 mins; Killian Dempsey for J Arrowsmith, 54 mins; Robbie Lynch for G Hoey, 54 mins.
COOLEY KICKHAMS: Neil Gallagher; Gerry Malone, Conor McGuinness, Eoin McDaid; Gabriel Sheelan, Alan Page, Shane Marks; Keith White, Richard Brennan; Conor Rafferty (0–3, 1f), Darren Marks (1–1), Michael Rafferty; Emmet Rogan, Brian White (0–2, 2f), Thomas McGuinness. Subs: Fearghal Malone for C Rafferty, 35 mins; Emmet McGuigan (0–2) for E McDaid, 41 mins; Anthony White for for T McGuinness, 47 mins; Aaron White.
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