Crossabeg-Ballymurn 2-13 Kilmore 3-7
Two already qualified teams met for the prize of topping Group B of the Joyces Expert Intermediate 'A' football championship in Rathangan on Saturday, and Crossabeg-Ballymurn leap-frogged Kilmore into top spot with a strong second-half performance.
The eventual winners played better against the wind after the interval, having made life very hard on themselves when they went in trailing at half-time by 2-4 to 1-6.
However, they signalled their intent just 50 seconds into the new period when overlapping corner-back Conor Barlow finished off a flowing move that started deep in defence from a David Kehoe pass.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn were never headed thereafter, although Kilmore did reduce the deficit to one point twice despite being a clear second best in the possession stakes.
The seasiders had a dream start when Aaron Goff's high ball from the left was palmed to the net by Conor Moore in the second minute after the corner-forward beat Conor Barlow and advancing goalkeeper Ben Turner in the air.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn hit the front for the first time in the 15th minute when one of four marks from the impressive Sam Kelly resulted in a goal. His floated delivery was knocked down by Rob Byrne into the path of Cormac O'Rourke who side-footed home from close range for a 1-3 to 1-2 lead.
However, they lost that advantage ten minutes later when a Kilmore side powered on by central defenders Stevie and Tommy Cousins pounced for a well-worked second goal.
Tommy's long ball into space found John Mernagh, the former county player back in the club colours after a spell in Kilkenny. His off-load was gathered at pace by corner-forward Mark Sinnott who blasted home for a 2-3 to 1-4 lead.
Although O'Rourke and Kelly (free) brought Crossabeg-Ballymurn level, an Aaron Goff point in added time left Kilmore one up at the break (2-4 to 1-6).
That Barlow goal on the re-start showed that his team's running game into the wind had the potential to be very effective, and so it proved.
Although Daithí Moore pulled back a point from a free, three on the trot from Ronan Devereux, Conor Shovlin and Oran Maddock created a gap of four by the 40-minute mark (2-9 to 2-5).
There was another kick in Kilmore though, with Conor Moore and Aaron Goff combining to put John Mernagh through for a coolly-finished goal on their next attack.
The scoring dried up midway through the half, a period when corner-back Conor Gormley was very prominent in winning a few vital 50-50 balls for Crossabeg-Ballymurn.
Oran Maddock and Daithí Moore (free) swapped points before seven barren minutes when the anxious leaders kicked three wides while Mark Sinnott missed the target from a goal chance at the other end.
Eventually they pulled clear with three on the trot from Sam Kelly, Cathal and Paddy Devereux between the 56th and 60th minutes before Daithí Moore kicked a late consolation point.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn will now face Réalt na Mara in the quarter-final, with Kilmore set to meet Craanford.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Ben Turner; Conor Barlow (1-0), Oisín Foley, Conor Gormley; Seamus Carroll, Ronan Devereux (0-1), Eoin O'Connor; Paddy Devereux (0-2), David Kehoe; Conor Shovlin (capt., 0-2), Cian Lambert, Sam Kelly (0-2, 1 free); Cormac O'Rourke (1-3, 0-1 free), Rob Byrne, Oran Maddock (0-2). Subs. - Cathal Devereux (0-1) for O'Connor, inj. (27), Evan Kinlough for Maddock (60+1).
Kilmore: Kevin Casey; Martin Frayne, Stevie Cousins, Alan Jones; Aaron Kielty (capt.), Tommy Cousins, Eoin Cooney; Denis Kenny (0-1), Noel Casey; Aaron Goff (0-1), Daithí Moore (0-3, 2 frees), Shane Goff (0-1); Mark Sinnott (1-0), John Mernagh (1-0), Conor Moore (1-1). Sub. - Rory Cardiff for N. Casey (44).
Referee: Billy Dodd (Sarsfields).