Martin's do it the hard way

Permanent TSB Junior 'A' Hurling C'ship Semi-Finals: St Martin's 2-14 Kilmore 2-12

Dave Devereux at Hollymount

St. Martin's certainly had to do it hard way to book their place in the Permanent TSB Junior 'A' hurling championship final as they doggedly edged out Kilmore in a tension-filled encounter in Hollymount on Sunday.

With the men in maroon and white leading 2-8 to 1-7, John Coleman was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card just before the interval.

That advantage was down to the minimum when they were reduced to 13 men, with referee Seán Slaven showing Richard Devereux a straight red card with just over ten minutes remaining.

However, they somehow managed to pull it out of the fire, showing guts and composure to determinedly get over the line.

After Tommy Cousins popped over an early point for Kilmore, St. Martin's began to build up a head of steam with scores from Seán Stafford (two) and Kyle Firman giving them a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage.

Tom Byrne arrowed over an eye-catching point in the sixth minute to reduce the deficit, but the Piercestown and Murrintown men quickly stamped their authority on the contest, plundering the opening goal moments later.

Ben Maddock floated a delivery into Seán Stafford, which he gathered superbly before rifling the ball beyond Noel Casey.

In the ninth minute Aaron Goff judged the strong wind to perfection to fire over a '65 but they were again quickly rocked back on their heels by a second St. Martin's major.

Conor Coleman robbed possession on the right wing and fed Richard Devereux, and the centre-forward made no mistake, confidently driving the ball to the net.

Kilmore needed a break and after Aaron Goff had converted a free they got just that.

Tom Byrne played a hopeful ball into the danger zone and Paul Murphy got the vital touch to help it over the goal line to drag them back within two (2-3 to 1-4).

Aaron Goff's radar was working well, and he arrowed over two more frees, either side of a Conor Coleman placed ball, before Adam Cantwell got his name on the scoresheet with a fine point.

St. Martin's stretched the lead out to four points with Conor Coleman adding three more to his tally and Tom Byrne replying, but some of the pep was taken out of their step when John Coleman was dismissed seconds before the half-time whistle.

Kilmore looked to be making the most of their numerical advantage after the turnaround and they quickly clawed their way back to within a point, with Shane Goff, Aaron Goff and Paul Murphy all raising white flags.

St. Martin's responded well to feeling the breath on the back of their necks though, with Conor Coleman slotting over two frees, Richard Devereux seeing his shot deflected over the bar and Seán Stafford splitting the posts to stretch the lead to five (2-12 to 1-10) by the midway point of the half.

Tommy Cousins pared one point off that lead and the game was right back in the melting pot when Tom Byrne gathered a Paul Murphy hand pass and drove a shot inside the near post despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Dylan Byrne.

St. Martin's suffered a further blow two minutes later when Richard Devereux was red-carded but substitute Edward O'Byrne gave them a lift by plundering a point with five minutes remaining.

Aaron Goff converted a 58th minute free to again leave the minimum between the sides, but St. Martin's refused to buckle and Seán Stafford steered over the final point to seal the deal.

St. Martin's: Dylan Byrne; Pádraig Rossiter, Tony Kelly, Philip Dempsey; Adrian Ryan (capt.), John Coleman, Ryan Murphy; Ben Maddock, Johnny Hamilton; Conor Coleman (0-6, 5 frees), Richard Devereux (1-1), Adam Cantwell (0-1); Kyle Firman (0-1), David Cuthbert, Seán Stafford (1-4). Subs. - James Boggan for Cuthbert, Donal Kelly for Rossiter, Edward O'Byrne (0-1) for Cantwell, Kevin Price for Firman.

Kilmore: Noel Casey; Paddy Scallan, Eoin Cooney, Denis Kenny; Pádraig Reville, Stevie Cousins (capt.), Aaron Kielthy; Tommy Cousins (0-2), Robie Barden; Tom White, Philip Sutton, Aaron Goff (0-6, 5 frees, 1 '65); Paul Murphy (1-1), John Mernagh, Tom Byrne (1-2). Subs. - Shane Goff (0-1) for Sutton, Rory Cardiff for Cooney, Robert Cousins for Scallan.

Referee: Seán Slaven (Faythe Harriers).

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