Solohead resists fast start from Arravale to book last spot

Maria Marron Palmers Hill Stud West Junior A Football Championship Semi-Final

Solo head 2-14(20)

Arravale Rovers 2-7(13)

Francis Coughlan at Emly

Solohead overcame a blistering start from Arravale Rovers to maintain their unbeaten start in this year’s Maria Marron Palmers Hill Stud West Junior A Football Championship and in doing so, booked their place in the decider for the first time since 2019.

The teams had met just under two weeks prior in the final round robin game where Solohead had come clear in the final quarter and while Solohead may have been favorites going into that semi-final, a Firm challenge was expected from their neighbors Arravale Rovers.

Played at Emly on Thursday night, a Brian Lowry goal had Arravale Rovers 1-2 on the board in the opening six minutes as they controlled most areas of the pitch. Solohead struggled to break down Arravale’s defense early on who collected numbers behind the ball and attacked on the break.

It took eight minutes before Stephen Dee got his first score on the board, but in the remaining fifty-two minutes they edged their opponents 2-14 to 1-5. Solohead slowly adapted to the pace of the game and soon found pockets of space with Paul Ryan’s goal helping them back into the competition. The teams were going level at the break 1-5 each.

On the restart, Solohead took the lead and when Aaron Ryan scored just before three quarters, they were six points off the mark. Arravale rallied to return to the competition and an Adam Dunne goal brought them down to two with ten minutes remaining.

However, that was as close as Tipp Town’s side came as Solohead finished with five unanswered runs to leave a comfortable gap between the sides at Paddy Russel’s full-time whistle.

Roger O’Connor knocked Arravale Rovers off the mark in the first minute with a well-taken point. Arravale was moving the ball well, picking up the number for cover and then committing numbers for attack.

Their attackers were causing problems for the Solohead defense with the Lowry brothers, Johnny and Brian in the foreground while Fergal McNamara worked hard. Solohead was forced to play a full two-man forward line with Eoin Riordan drifting further down the field. Brian Roche was deployed on Solohead’s Aaron Ryan and was doing a good job of scoring with Niall Sharpe coming back on Stephen Dee.

On the other end, Noel Kennedy sometimes trailed Johnny Lowry on his way to the back half line. Three minutes later Brian Lowry entered the goal after receiving a pass from Fergal McNamara following good pressure from Arravale. That pressure continued when the end of a good move saw Brian set up his brother Johnny to push Arravale from five points. Stephen Dee blasted Solohead off with a fist point after eight minutes, but Arravale continued to dictate the terms with Solohead struggling to find room for his forwards.

Brian Jones and then Roger O’Connor added to Arravale’s lead. O’Connor adding his second point from the centre-back sometimes having the run of the pitch in the first half often heading for the Solohead half of the pitch. Solohead eventually started breaking Arravale to find that extra bit of space. Noel Kennedy found himself at the opposite end of the field and his cross was met by Paul Ryan who hit the net past Andy Lacey.

The final ten minutes belonged to Solohead, with Arravale now pushing back down the field in an attempt to curb Solohead’s attack. Stephen and James Dee as well as Paul Ryan have a lot more ball. Eoin Riordan scored two goals including one from forty-five to equalise.

Solohead will feel they could have taken the lead at the break when Aaron Ryan, now getting more balls, cut along the baseline to see his effort for the goal perfectly saved by Andy Lacey. The teams equalize 1 to 5 each at the break.

Arravale managed the opening efforts of the second half but failed to score. Stephen Dee pointed Solohead ahead in the third minute and after that they never trailed. Solohead was now playing the best football and, more importantly, making it count on the scoreboard.

Solohead introduced Aidan Riordan and he would make a huge difference over the attacking thirty minutes while also being ready to dive deep if needed. His first touch to set up his cousin Eoin for a point. When Stephen Dee clocked Solohead three ahead in the twelfth minute, they would take a big step forward to advance to the final two minutes later. Aaron Ryan was behind the defender when the ball broke nicely for him.

He advanced on goal and made no mistakes in his effort. Solohead was six at the right start in the final quarter. Jack Hogan responded with a free-pointing Arravale, then an error in the Solohead defense opened the game. Adam Dunne took possession from the edge of the square without scoring before netting the ball past Christopher Ryan.

He cut the gap to two but was as close as Arravale Rovers. Solohead lost Noel Kennedy at this point to injury. Kennedy had been a rock at the back up to this point and was replaced by Chris McSweeney. Solohead, however, scored five unanswered points within six minutes with Declan Riordan, Eoin Riordan and Aaron Ryan all on target.

They controlled play and defended well by forcing pressure on Arravale’s kickers when they were in scoring position and overall saw the game well. They will now face Knockavilla winners Donaskeigh Kickhams and Sean Treacys in this year’s final.

Teams and scorers: solo head: Aaron Ryan (1-3, (0-1f)), Stephen Dee (0-5), Eoin Riordan (0-5, (0-2f)), Paul Ryan (1-0), Declan Riordan (0- 1f).

Roads of Arravale: Adam Dunne (1-1, (0-1f)), Roger O’Connor (0-2), Johnny Lowry (0-1), Brian Jones (0-1), Oscar O’Dwyer (0-1) , Jack Hogan (0-1f).

solo head: Christopher Ryan, Christopher O’Connor, Noel Kennedy, Denis O’Shea, Tomas O’Mahony, Brian Gavin, Jack Redican, Paul Ryan, Brendan Collins, Anthony Owens, Christopher Kirby, James Dee, Aaron Ryan, Eoin Riordan, Stephen Dee.

Submarines used: Aidan Riordan, Chris McSweeney, Declan Riordan.

Roads of Arravale: Andy Lacey, Oscar O’Dwyer, Brian Roche, Micheal Ryan, Paddy Dalton, Roger O’Connor, Niall Sharpe, Brian Jones, Shane Maher, Fergal McNamara, Brian Lowry, David Kelly, Jack Hogan, Johnny Lowry, Adam Dunne.

Submarines used: Eoghan Lonergan, Gavin Cussen, Caolan Halligan, James Cussen.

Arbitrator: Paddy Russell (Emly)

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