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Graham helps Rathnew sink Saints and book Wicklow Cup final ticket

RATHNEW AFC …2 ST. ANTHONY’S KILCOOLE UTD FC… 1

RATHNEW AFC produced a come from behind victory to reach the Wicklow Cup Final for the first time since 2015.

In a dress rehearsal of next weekend’s Thomas Scott (Division 1) Cup, the Villagers scored twice in six second half minutes to overcome the Saint’s.

In the all Pat O’Toole Division 1 clash at the Vartry Grounds on Sunday morning, the Kilcoole side – having last reached the final back in 1993 – led 1-0 at the break.

But they were hampered by the lost of left-back Emmet Kenna through injury before the half hour. Then lost influential striker Patrick Woods to injury early in the second period. Winger Declan Roper also struggled through injury after the interval before his withdrawal.

That being said, Rathnew’s famous never say die attitude came to the fore.

Afterall, they have won the Wicklow Cup 12 times since 1995. But their big game mentality also told.

They were back level in the 61st minute in a superb team move. Jason Devlin’s ball out of defence found Nicky Mernagh who linked with Josh Graham, Gary Byrne’s incisive pass found Mark Doyle who drilled low to the net from 16-yards.

What proved to be the winner had a touch of fortune in the 67th minute. Mernagh’s quick throw-in down the right flank released Josh Graham. He cut back inside to swing over a left-footed cross that crashed in off the far post.

Saints keeper Robert McNamee thwarted both Mernagh and Mark Doyle late on with point blank saves from headers.

The Kilcoole outfit had taken a 19th minute lead from a corner. Kyle O’Reilly whipped in the dead-ball with defender Stafford Quaid’s downwards going past two opponents on the line.

Moments later at the other end, Jody Merrigan did beat McNamee. But his astute lob from the edge of the penalty area struck the bar.

RATHNEW AFC: Johnny Byrne; Rory Dowling, Jason Devlin, Dean Franey, Philip O’Neill; Nicky Mernagh, Gary Byrne, Eddie Doyle, Josh Graham; Jody Merrigan, Mark Doyle. SUBS: Jordan Graham (for Josh Graham 78 mins), Shawn Paul Dunne, Michael Anthony Doyle, Evan Doyle, Kristian Kearney, Dale Franey, Alan Hubbard (all not used).

ST. ANTHONY’S KILCOOLE UNITED FC: Robbie McNamee; Stephen Hunt, Stafford Quaid, Mick Rooney, Emmet Kenna; Declan Roper, Larry Kenna, Kyle O’Reilly; Dan Lacey, Patrick Woods, Darren Collopy. SUBS: Charlie Maguire (for Emmet Kenna 28 mins), Darren Byrne (for Woods 52 mins), Shane Creagh (for Roper 84 mins), Lee Dutton (for Larry Kenna 89 mins), Craig Meehan (not used)

REFEREE: Dominique Lachaussée. ASSISTANTS: Michael Kennedy, Seamus Byrne.

By PAUL DOWLING

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