Wolfe Tones fended off a strong Rathkenny rally before securing a hoganstand.com SFC Group A win at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday afternoon.
Wolfe Tones 2-8
Wolfe Tones looked set for a second-half coasting when leading by seven points at the break. Rathkenny rattled them with a second-half rally that could have yielded their first points of the campaign.
Rathkenny regained parity with seven points on the spin to leave it 0-10 to 2-4 after 51 minutes.
Wing-back Niall McLoughlin - his side's joint top scorer on the day - posted his side's first second-half scorer in the 52nd minute. Wolfe Tones retained the lead to the finish to post their second win of the campaign.
It could have been so different for Rathkenny, who have now lost four games in the group and face a fight to retain senior status. Sub John Donegan passed up three goal chances at the town end in the third quarter. Two were stopped by Wolfe Tones' 'keeper David Nolan. The third, a deft flick, went wide at the three-quarter mark.
To their credit Des Lane's men tagged on the next three points to level matters. That was as good as it got for Rathkenny. Gordon Ward's side closed the scoring with a Cian Ward free and a Thomas O'Reilly effort from play.
Backed by the breeze, Wolfe Tones went in search of their second win of the campaign. They hit from the front through Fiachra Ward just after the half-minute mark.
In the fifth minute Cian Ward flykicked the ball agains the cross bar, but the leather broke to wing-back Niall McLoughlin whose first-timed effort found the net. McLoughlin then pointed, and Wolfe Tones noe 1-2 to 0-0 looked set to stroll.
Gradually, Rathkenny worked their way back into the game. Caolach Halligan finished off a neat move involving Ivan Lenehan and Owen Elliott with a fine point.
Further points from Brian Lenehan (45) and Owen Elliott cut the gap to just two after 20 minutes.
Lenehan's 45 came after Donal Curtis' goal attempt was turned out by 'Tones stopper David Nolan. Sadly, the Rathkenny number 13 picked up what seemed to be an ankle injury was forced off.
Wolfe Tones posted their first score in a quarter of an hour when Stephen Sheppard pushed up and found McLoughlin, who cut in from the right and tried to fist over a point.
The number seven's effort glanced off the wordwork and Fiachra Ward finished to the net. A deft Cian Ward flick in his own half set Daniel O'Neill off on a run which ended with the corner-back pointing.
County minor Thomas O'Reilly closed the first-half scoring with a left-footed close range free. It was 2-4 to 0-3 at half-time.
Rathkenny resumed with more resolve which could have yielded a brace of goals within 10 minutes of the restart. Having levelled matters, they were unable to sustain the effort.
Wolfe Tones - David Nolan; Daniel O'Neill (0-1), Stephen Sheppard, David Coleman; Eanna Harrington, Shane Glynn, Niall McLoughlin (1-2); Stephen Corrigan, Niall O'Reilly; Paul Byrne, Thomas O'Reilly (0-2 1f), Alan Callaghan; Alan Fox, Fiachra Ward (1-2), Cian Ward (0-1f). Subs - Ciaran McLoughlin for Byrne (48), Bruach O Fionnagain for Fox (50)
Rathkenny - Andrew Finney; Joe Gore, Ross Gore, Niall Brannigan; Thomas McGuinness, Donal Keogan (0-1), Robert Garry; Brian Meade (0-2,1f), James Macken; Caolach Halligan (0-3, 2fs), Ivan Lenehan, Brian Lenehan (0-1 45); Donal Curtis, Thomas Martin (0-1), Owen Elliott (0-2). Subs - Jack Gore (0-1) for Curtis (19), Michael Macken for R Gore (ht), John Donegan for B Lenehan (ht)..
Referee - David Coldrick (Blackhall Gaels)