Accurate Nolan points way
GAA Amber Springs/Ashdown Park Hotels IFC Quarter-finals - HWH-Bunclody 1-16 St Mary's (Maudlintown) 1-8
An outstanding display of placed-ball accuracy from Aidan Nolan was a telling factor in St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Friday when HWH-Bunclody put an indifferent first-half behind them to power past St. Mary's (Maudlintown) and into the semi-finals of the Amber Springs/Ashdown Park Hotels Intermediate football championship.
The county hurler finished with ten points to his name, seven frees, two '45s plus one from play, and his contribution was especially important in the opening period when the underdogs put it up to the beaten finalists of 2017.
St. Mary's had the perfect start, as Eddie Pitman played a one-two with Gavin Cullen slightly to the right of the country end goal before billowing the net in the fourth minute.
The Wexford town team continued to look threatening whenever Christy Lane, Gary Murphy and county Under-20 player Jamie Thomas broke at pace from defence, but they only got so far before several moves broke down as a result of over-ambitious long foot passes.
Six days earlier, Billy Kelly's free-taking had guided the HWH-Bunclody hurlers to victory at the same venue, and Aidan Nolan showed that he was just as adept with the bigger ball for the first time in the seventh minute.
They were almost caught napping on the next St. Mary's attack, though, with a quick free finding Gavin Cullen whose effort on goal led to a vital save from Patrick Kavanagh.
Nolan (free and '45) equalised before Donal O'Leary restored Maudlintown's lead, and then it was the turn of the opposing netminder, Paul Dempsey, to keep out an Eoin Kelly effort.
Pierce Dooley made it 1-2 to 0-4 before Nolan levelled once more from a placed ball, and HWH-Bunclody hit the front for the first time in the 25th minute when Kevin Dunne grabbed their opening point from play.
The game's first wide followed, and it was glaring miss as Colm Farrell was put through by the excellent Martin O'Connor but blazed his shot to the left of the posts.
Still, HWH-Bunclody - who will meet Crossabeg-Ballymurn next - were showing signs of improvement, and they went on to lead by 0-8 to 1-3 at half-time after Keith O'Hara and Nolan (free) pointed on either side of Donal O'Leary's second score at the other end.
Todd Hynes made it a one-point game on the re-start from a free, but St. Mary's were dealt the game's most decisive blow in the 33rd minute.
A strong run from the left and handpass by Eoin Kelly set up Kevin Dunne for a well-taken goal, and from that point onwards the winners displayed the ability that ensured Kilanerin needed extra-time to finally see them off in last year's county final.
It was 1-12 to 1-6 by the three-quarters mark, with Aidan Nolan (play and free), Eoin Kelly and Josh Martin picking off points while Dermot Flood and Graham Carty (free) responded.
Martin, Nolan (two frees) and Martin O'Connor left ten between them before Paul Dempsey kept out another effort on goal, this time from substitute David Reck.
St. Mary's had captain Alan Lynch dismissed long after the outcome was decided following a flashpoint with Josh Martin, and they managed late consolation points from Dermot Flood (free) and Pierce Dooley in the dying embers of the game.
HWH-Bunclody: Patrick Kavanagh; Billy Kelly, John Atkinson (capt.), Adam Hogan; Conor Crean, Martin O'Connor (0-1), John Dunne; Aidan Nolan (0-10, 7 frees, 2 '45s), Josh Martin (0-2); Seán Kenny, Eoin Kelly (0-1), Keith O'Hara (0-1); Colm Farrell, Peter Atkinson, Kevin Dunne (1-1). Subs. - David Reck for P. Atkinson (51), Peadair Cowman for O'Hara (56), Mark Sheehan for Martin (60+1), Cathal Doyle for Nolan, inj. (60+2).
St. Mary's (Maudlintown): Paul Dempsey; Gary Murphy, Alex Lynch, Alan Lynch (capt.); Jamie Thomas, Christy Lane, Mark Doyle; Dermot Flood (0-2, 1 free), Graham Carty (0-1 free); Gavin Cullen, Donal O'Leary (0-2), Eddie Pitman (1-0); Todd Hynes (0-1 free), Jason Swords, Pierce Dooley (0-2). Subs. - Ross Lynch for Hynes, temp. (19-22), Lynch for Cullen (49), Andy Lehane for Swords (55).
Referee: James Mullally (Gusserane).