Three out of three
St Martin's continue to set hot pace
St Martin's third win in as many games means there will be no repeat of last year's early exit as they secured a place in the last eight of the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship at Bellefield on Sunday.
St Martin's 2-17 Rathnure 1-13
The win was the product of a superb performance from Ciarán Lyng in midfield and the emergence of Rory O'Connor as a real threat in the Rathnure half of the field in the second period.
County footballer Lyng scored 1-4 and provided penetrating runs and clever hurling, much in the mould of Oulart-The Ballagh's David Redmond, throughout the encounter. O'Connor burst to life after both sides were reduced to 14 men, scored two superb points and provided the pass of the day for Lyng's goal.
Rathnure were leading by two in the 42nd minute (1-10 to 1-8) when Declan Foley was sent-off for a wild pull across Joe Coleman and the Martin's man was dismissed for retaliating, but at that stage the tide was just starting to turn in the Piercestown side's favour.
From that moment St. Martin's scored five points in a row, including a pair of frees from substitute Seán Stafford. Rathnure momentarily halted the flurry with Jack Guiney's seventh minor, but after O'Connor pointed he drilled an inch-perfect crossfield pass that arrived at Lyng in stride and he drove in to goal (2-14 to 1-11).
Lyng (two) and O'Connor still had time to point in the last five minutes and, while Shane Lawlor and Brendan O'Leary registered at the other end, St. Martin's had done enough to claim the two points and a spot in the quarters.
Earlier, Rathnure raced into a 1-3 to 0-1 lead on the back of a goal scored at the second attempt by Ciarán O'Connor. They led all the way to half-time but the advantage was cut when Stephen Murphy off-loaded to Coleman and he smashed a powerful strike past Dermot Flynn.
Goalkeeper Flynn won the battle with Coleman just before half-time when he saved from the forward from point-blank range, and the Blackstairs boys were clinging to a 1-8 to 1-6 interval lead. It lasted until the 44th minute and from there it was all St. Martin's.
Rathnure now face a crucial game next time out against Rapparees if they are to avoid a relegation play-off final. Yet a victory over the Enniscorthy town club will not only guarantee their safety but also leave them with a chance to progress to the last eight against Glynn-Barntown in the final round.
St. Martin's: Luke White; Conor Firman, Daithí Hayes, Mark Maloney; Jack O'Connor, Tomás Waters, Patrick O'Connor (0-1 free); Ciarán Lyng (capt., 1-4), Willie Devereux; Donal Kelly, Daithí Waters, Paudie Kelly (0-2); Joe Coleman (1-5, 0-4 frees), Stephen Murphy (0-1), Rory O'Connor (0-2). Subs. - Seán Stafford (0-2 frees) for D. Kelly (31), Ryan Murphy for S. Murphy (58).
Rathnure: Dermot Flynn (capt.); Chris Redmond, Mick O'Leary, Brendan O'Leary (0-1); John O'Connor (0-1), Declan Foley, Pádraig Doyle; Paddy Whiteley, Eoin Higgins (0-1); Ciarán O'Connor (1-0), Aidan Redmond (0-2), Shane Lawlor (0-1); Richard Flynn, Jack Guiney (0-7, 3 frees, 2 line balls), Michael Redmond. Sub. - Seán O'Neill for R. Flynn (47).
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James').