Four wins from four for saints
Early goals from Kevin O'Grady and Robbie Barron proved the difference as St. James' won the battle of the top two in Group A of the Top Oil Intermediate 'A' hurling championship in St. Patrick's Park on Friday.
St.James 2-14 Ballyfad 0-14
The Ramsgrange men have assured themselves of top spot in the table having won their fourth championship game on the bounce, and they will meet the final qualifier from Group B in the quarter-finals.
They started as they meant to go on with O'Grady hitting the net in the opening minutes.
Shane Murphy added a free for his side before Robbie Barron found the net for St. James' to leave Ballyfad in an early hole.
Only Conor Devitt shone on a poor evening for the Gorey District club and it was three of his eleven points, and one from Peter Hughes, that kept Ballyfad in the game at 2-5 to 0-4 behind.
However, the gap continued to widen as the half wore on as Shane Murphy brought his first-half tally to five while Matthew O'Hanlon also got in on the act with a treble (2-10 to 0-7 at half-time).
Devitt and Richard Hughes claimed the first two points of the second period and shortly after Murphy notched his sixth point he was sent-off to reduce St. James' to 14.
The points kept coming from Devitt but it wasn't enough to save his side - who lost corner-forward Denis Jones late in the game to a red card - as further points from O'Hanlon, Daniel Keating and Andrew Walsh wrapped up the victory.
The way things are shaping up, it looks likely that St. James' will meet District rivals Geraldine O'Hanrahans in the last eight while Ballyfad will be hoping to finish their group games in style against Our Lady's Island to book a potentially easier knockout opponent.
St. James': Simon Murphy; Paul Barron, Jason Barron, Brian Molloy; Daniel Keating (0-1), Liam Murphy, David Doyle; Mark Molloy, Robbie Barron (1-0); Mark Myler, Matthew O'Hanlon (0-4), Donal Barron (0-1); Andrew Walsh (0-2), Shane Murphy (0-6, 3 frees, 1 '65), Kevin O'Grady (1-0).
Ballyfad: Tom Hughes; Enda O'Leary, Aidan Jones, Killian O'Toole; Stephen Hughes, Colm Kavanagh, Jim Hughes; Mark Boland, Conor Devitt (0-11, 8 frees); Richard Hughes (0-1), Tommy Boland, Dean O'Toole; Lorcan Clare, Peter Hughes (0-2), Denis Jones. Subs. - Bobby Hughes for Clare, Conor Byrne for Boland.
Referee: Martin Armstrong (HWH-Bunclody).