Rathvilly have progressed to the Carlow SFC final after a three-point victory against Palatine on Sunday afternoon at Netwatch Cullen Park.
It took over ten minutes for the first score of the game to come when Palatine’s Shane O’Neill pointed an easy free just outside the 21-metre line. Five minutes later O’Neill got the first from play to double Palatine’s lead in a game where every score was crucial.
Rathvilly talisman Brendan Murphy showcased his skills with a long-range point from the right-hand side of the pitch just outside the Palatine ’45 as Pat Ryan’s team finally got off the mark. Soon after Brian Murphy received the ball from Barry John Molloy and equalised with the last kick before the first half water break, Rathvilly 0-02 to 0-02 Palatine.
O’Neill continued to lead the charge for Palatine as another free from the trusty left-footer restored their lead in a game that was played at a pedantic pace throughout the first half. A Jake Elliott free drew the sides level ten minutes before half time.
The score of the game came when Conor Doyle dummied a number of Palatine defenders before somehow pointing with the outside of his left foot from a seemingly impossible angle as Rathvilly took the lead for the first time in a nervy encounter between two evenly matched sides. Rathvilly began to create more space further up the pitch as the half progressed and another score from play from Brendan Murphy’s midfield partner Ed Finnegan gave them a two-point lead, Rathvilly 0-05 to 0-03 Palatine.
Andrew Kehoe and David Reidy linked up brilliantly before Kehoe expertly found the net for the first goal of the game for Palatine and two points from play from Jason Cane and Jamie Kenny gave Paul and John Reid’s men a three-point lead just before half time, Rathvilly 0-05 to 1-05 Palatine.
Rathvilly levelled at the start of the second half when corner forward Kevin Murphy hit the back of the net when through on goal as the game continued from where it left off in the closing stages of the first half. A long distance free from Palatine goalkeeper Craig Kearney moved the 2016 champions one point ahead. Full forward Jake Elliott scored his second of the day with a well-taken point from play to level a tight affair again, Rathvilly 1-06 to 1-06 Palatine.
Brian Murphy moved Rathvilly ahead with another clinically taken point, but Shane O’Neill kept Palatine ticking over as he took advantage of Rathvilly indiscipline to dispatch of a close-range free. Darragh Murphy opened his account with a free from the ’45 to once again edge Rathvilly ahead midway through the second half, Rathvilly 1-08 to 1-07 Palatine.
Murphy added another free just before the water break as Palatine began to lose control of the game but an Andrew Kehoe free kept them within touching distance of Rathvilly. The efficient Darragh Murphy split the posts with another free from distance and an Elliott point left three between the teams late on, Rathvilly 1-11 to 1-08 Palatine.
Goalkeeper Craig Kearney scored another free to increase his individual tally to two points but one last score from Kevin Murphy, who finished with 1-02 gave Rathvilly the cushion that they needed as they eventually ran out 1-12 to 1-09 winners and advance to the county final.