Accurate Furlong points the way for St. Anne's
The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate Hurling Championsip: St Anne's 0-19 Craanford 1-12
The accuracy of Mark Furlong from placed balls and the gradual influence of Diarmuid O'Keeffe were key components for St. Anne's securing a priceless 0-19 to 1-12 victory over Craanford in a pivotal final round of group games in The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship at St. Patrick's Park on Saturday evening.
Such was the water-tight nature of Group A ahead of the weekend that ultimately every score proved crucial, with victory securing St. Anne's second place in the standings.
And with results elsewhere working in their favour, the four-point deficit in the end saw Craanford join them in the quarter-finals, as they possessed a superior score-difference to both St. James and Ballygarrett.
Much of St. Anne's early momentum was built when they surged into a 0-8 to 0-2 lead by the 15th minute, with four placed-balls from Furlong, a sublime side-line cut from Franny Simpson, and further efforts from Kevin White, Dee O'Keeffe and Liam Rochford all doing the damage.
Craanford certainly don't ever make life easy for themselves and their cause wasn't helped when Shane Kavanagh was dismissed on 28 minutes for a late and high challenge on O'Keeffe, with Furlong knocking over the subsequent free to help establish a 0-11 to 0-3 interval advantage.
But the fourteen men improved immeasurably after the break, with Kevin Poole leading the way from frees and general play as the gap was cut to an entirely manageable 0-13 to 0-9 with ten minutes left.
Jess Codd and Mikey Fogarty sandwiched a Furlong free as Anne's appeared to have shaken off Craanford's resistance, but when Matthew Nolan cut in along the end-line a minute from time and forced Red Barry into a save, John Fleming was on hand to poke home the rebound as the gap stood at 0-17 to 1-11. And that goal, coupled with an injury-time Poole free, were enough as Craanford progressed by the slimmest of margins.
St. Anne's: Redmond Barry; Kevin White (0-1), Thomas Cullen, Pauric O'Keeffe; Finn O'Driscoll, Aidan Rochford, Kenny Clooney; Mark Furlong (capt, 0-10, eight frees, one '65), Seamus Mythen; Jonathan Fogarty, Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-2), Jess Codd (0-1); Micky Fogarty (0-1), Francis Simpson (0-1 sideline cut), Liam Rochford (0-3). Sub: Brian Kavanagh for Simpson.
Craanford: Derek Finn; Michael O'Loughlin (capt), Pat Kenny, Joe Berney; William Conroy, Niall Berney, Michael Lyons; James O'Loughlin (0-2), Patrick Murray (0-1); Matthew Nolan (0-1), Ollie Doran, Ger Lyons; Tony Kavanagh, Kevin Poole (0-8, six frees), Shane Kavanagh. Subs: James Smyth for M. O'Loughlin (inj), John Fleming (1-0) for Smyth.
Referee: Niall McDonald (Crossabeg Ballymurn).