Resilient Hollywood withstand brave Éire Óg comeback to claim enthralling championship opener

Hollywood vs Eire Og

Hollywood 1-14

Éire Óg 0-13

Tony Hannon scored a crucial first half goal as Hollywood withstood a desperate late comeback from Éire Óg to claim victory in their Wicklow senior football championship group two opener at Joule Park on Sunday evening.

The division one league champions were the dominant side in the first half with some good possession football dragging the Éire Óg side across the pitch at will. The veteran Hannon was in the thick of the action all evening. He scored an early free before palming the ball into the back of the net following a charge down the right hand side from Patrick O’Keeffe.

Matthew Kelly got Hollywood’s second point after six minutes, before Danny Keane got his first of six points to finally break Éire Óg’s duck.

Éire Óg managed to reduce the gap to two points through points from Keane, Jamie McDonald, and Danny Woods. However, a late first half point spree from O’Keeffe (2), Eoin Burke, and Tony Hannon maintained Hollywood’s advantage going into the second half with the sides sitting at 1-10 to 0-8.

The second half was far more cagey than the first half as Éire Óg attempted to claw themselves back into the game. They were able to disrupt Hollywood’s attempts to control the tempo of the game, but were met by a well-drilled Hollywood rearguard.

That defensive solidarity, as well as the wastefulness of Éire Óg who registered six wides in the second half alone, prevented the Greystones side from clawing their way back into the game, despite the best efforts of Danny Keane and Darren Hayden.

While Kiltegan’s victory against Bray Emmets earlier in the day was baked in sunshine, Hollywood’s clash against Éire Óg was subject to the intense humidity of a summer evening. These conditions seemed to take its toll on the players as the game wore on, as the players approached the first half with an intensely energetic tempo.

Hollywood were quickest out of the blocks, with Wicklow GAA veteran Tony Hannon pointing an early free before Philip O’Keeffe charged down the right hand side. He squared the ball across the Éire Óg area for Hannon to palm into the back of the net.

It was a game that was an exhibition in point0kicking. Danny Keane set the standard of excellent kicking when — as he would go on to do throughout the evening — he cut in from the left hand side and split the posts with his trusty right boot.

Keane would point again in a similar fashion before Jamie McDonald and Danny Woods chalked back the lead to two points but Éire Óg would score just thrice more in the first half.

Thomas Burke and Matthew Kelly score twice before McDonald kept the deficit at a goal. However, further points from O’Keeffe (2), Eoin Burke and Hannon extended that lead to seven, only for Danny Keane to pop up with two more points to reduce that deficit to five going into the second half with the score sitting at 1-10 to 0-8.

The humid conditions in Aughrim seemed to have an effect on the players in the second half. The commanding, possession-based approach used by Hollywood in the first half was replaced by a more conservative one with the purpose of seeing the game out to the end.

While they scored 1-10 in the first half, they were restricted to just four points in the second as Éire Óg chased the game.

Meanwhile Éire Óg, who spent the second half chasing the lead that Hollywood had built in the first, struggled to find the energy to mount substantive offensive moves that would undo their opposition

It was Hollywood who got the first scores of the game through points from Ciaran Tyrrell and Thomas Burke, while Stephen Kearney cancelled out Darragh Shiels’ attempt to close the gap for Éire Óg.

Kearney’s would be Hollywood’s last score until the final few minutes of the game, as Éire Óg began to mount their last-ditch comeback to draw level.

A free from Hayden was followed by three wides for the Greystones club as Hollywood began to batten down the hatches. Danny Keane got another point before Jamie McDonald saw a goalbound shot hit off of Ian Burke in the Hollywood goal.

Keane split the posts again as the clock ran down to the final three minutes with the gap now at five points.

The stage was then set for Tony Hannon to kick the ball over the bar, drawing a massive cheer from a Hollywood fanbase fully aware of how vital the point was.

Substitute Cian O’Flaherty got one more consolation point for Éire Óg but it was too little too late. Hollywood displayed the resiliency and discipline to keep Éire Óg at bay and make the perfect start to their championship season.

Hollywood: Ian Burke; Shane Kelly, Harry Wilson, Eoin Burke (0-1); Conor Burke, Michael Healy, Robert Houlihan; Ciaran Tyrrell, Robert Kelly; Matthew Kelly (0-2), Patrick O’Keeffe (0-2), Cian Tyrrell; Stephen Kearney (0-2), Tony Hannon (1-4, 0-1f), Thomas Burke (0-3).

Éire Óg: Billy Norman; Mark Maguire, Darragh O’Brien, Peter Keane; Sean Horan, Darren Hayden (0-2f), Darragh Shiels (0-1); Danny Woods (0-1), Billy Cuddihy; Jamie McDonald (0-2), James Cranley, Fintan O’Shea; Danny Keane (0-6), Johnny Donohue; Johnny Delahunty.

Sub scorers: Cian O’Flaherty (0-1)

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