AGB endure Hollywood comeback to keep up senior championship chase

Arklow Geraldines-Ballymoney 0-16

Hollywood 1-09

Arklow Geraldines-Ballymoney survived a relentless second-half Hollywood comeback to maintain their senior football championship push with a hard-fought win on Sunday morning.

Despite leading by eight points with 15 minutes of the game to go, AGB were made to work for a victory that lifts them back level with Rathnew at the top of group one; seeing off a Hollywood side that remains with just the single win from this year’s campaign.

Both Hollywood and AGB will have had ambitions to go far in the competition, after both made it to the semi-finals in 2018. Arklow, who were edged by Rathnew last year, made the brighter start on this occasion; taking a two-point lead inside a slow first 20 minutes, through JP Hurley, Chris O’Brien, and Ciarán O’Shea.

As they would continue to do through the match, Hollywood refused to let AGB get away; heaping pressure on the ball in Arklow territory, and drawing the game level through a Stephen Kearney free and Kevin Murphy point.

While AGB could be deemed guilty of over-playing high up the pitch at times, Mark Murnaghan’s Hollywood outfit struggled to fashion meaningful chances against a well-drilled defence, marshalled well by Jim Tyrrell.

Tyrrell’s leadership laid the groundwork for Arklow to finish the half the stronger, as two Philip Healy frees, and pair of scores from first-half substitute Darragh Culleton, sent the Gers into the break with a 0-07 to 0-03 advantage.

Whether urged by manager Damien Redmond to be more clinical in the final third, or not, Arklow managed to turn their possession into scores, in an impressive opening 15 minutes of the second-half.

Philip Gleeson kicked off the Gers scoring streak that ended with Chris O’Brien splitting the posts to push AGB out to an eight-point, 0-12 to 0-04 lead.

A black card issued to Gleeson presented Hollywood with the chance to try and turn the game around, which they duly did. Keith Traynor put the ball over the bar, before a loose kick-out from AGB ‘keeper Mervyn Travers allowed Kevin Murphy to feed Eoin Burke, who worked possession onto PJ O’Keeffe, who rifled the ball past Travers to make it a four-point game, at 0-12 to 1-05.

Hollywood came on even stronger from there; Burke and O’Keeffe both pointing to reduce the gap to just two points.

The Gers needed a reprieve, which they got through another Culleton free, followed by an exquisite score from wide on the right flank by substitute Shane McBride.

With the game finely poised at 0-14 to 1-07, Hollywood almost grabbed their second goal of the day, by bizarre means. An innocuous long ball was charged on by Mervyn Travers, who blocked the ball against Cian Tyrrell, only for the resulting deflection to go behind. Robert Houlihan slotted the resulting 45’, before Robert Kelly brought it back to a two-point game moments later.

Ultimately, Hollywood were made to be frustrated at the death, as Shane McBride and Cathal Kelleher both stroked the ball over the bar late-on to hand the points to AGB.

Arklow will be confident of recording another win when they take on Newtown in their next game, on the 18th of August. Meanwhile, Hollywood will face the daunting task of facing Rathnew on the same day.

WicklowNews Player of the Match: Jim Tyrrell (Arklow Geraldines-Ballymoney)

Arklow Geraldines-Ballymoney scorers: D. Culleton (0-04; 0-02f), C. O’Brien (0-02), P. Healy (0-02; 0-01f), S. McBride (0-02), A. Maher (0-01), C. Kellegher (0-01), C. O’Shea (0-01), D. Fitzgerald (0-01), J. Hurley (0-01), P. Gleeson (0-01).

Hollywood scorers: P. O’Keefe (1-01), S. Kearney (0-02f), E. Burke (0-01), J. Cullen (0-01), K. Traynor (0-01), K. Murphy (0-01), R. Houlihan (0-01 45′), R. Kelly (0-01).

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