Martin's finish on a high
Two goals in the closing eight minutes helped St. Martin's to a rather flattering ten-point victory over a battling Ballyhogue outfit in this GreenstarUnder-21 football Premier championship preliminary round game at Bree on Saturday.
St. Martin's 2-14 Ballyhogue 0-10
St. Martin's were the warm favourites going into this clash, but for lengthy periods it looked as if Ballyhogue were capable of causing an upset.
Had the home side's finishing matched their approach play, they would have been much closer at the finish, but the ability of the south county team's attack to make better use of their opportunities steered them to victory in the end.
Despite the talent in their ranks, St. Martin's struggled through the opening 30 minutes. Inside the first eight minutes the sides shared points through Noel Roche (free) and Rory O'Connor.
Ballyhogue were in no mood to allow their more highly-rated opponents to dominate though and, with Noel Roche kicking over some fine points, they led by 0-5 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter, with Jake Firman and Seán Stafford on the mark for the opposition.
Two points from Barry O'Connor had the sides level (0-5 each) after 25 minutes, but in between a rather bizarre 18th-minute penalty was awarded to St. Martin's, with a Ballyhogue defender penalised for a rather trivial tackle.
Jake Firman saw his effort saved by 'keeper Enda Byrne, who also managed to push away Firman's return shot from the breaking ball, with Seán Stafford eventually sending it wide of a gaping goal.
St. Martin's finished the half strongly with points from Rory O'Connor and Seán Stafford to lead by 0-7 to 0-5 at the interval.
On the resumption St. Martin's came much more into the game and, with Joe Coleman,
Jake Firman and Jamie Carty adding points, they stretched into a 0-10 to 0-6 lead by the 39th minute, the home side's reply coming through a Noel Roche free.
As Roche kicked over two fine long-range pointed frees along with an Enda Minogue effort in between, last year's Roinn 1 champions reduced the deficit to 0-10 to 0-9 at the end of the third quarter.
Still only a point (0-11 to 0-10) separated the sides with eight minutes remaining when a sweeping move ended with a Seán Stafford goal, while one minute from the end Michael Codd added a second goal to secure his side's passage through to the quarter-final away to Glynn-Barntown.
St. Martin's: Nicky Greene; Tony Kelly, Conor Firman, Pádraig Rossiter; Ben Maddock, Donal Kelly, Mikey Coleman; Joe O'Connor, Rory O'Connor (0-2); Barry O'Connor (0-2), Joe Coleman (0-1), Jake Firman (0-4, 1 free); Seán Stafford (1-2, 0-1 free), Jamie Carty (0-3, 2 frees), Michael Codd (1-0). Subs. - Peter Barry for B. O'Connor, Darragh Kenny for Stafford, Johnny Hamilton for T. Kelly.
Ballyhogue: Enda Byrne; Shane Fenlon, Cormac Byrne, Enda Minogue (0-1); Peter Doyle, Conor Long, Graham Parker (0-1); Conor Byrne, Nick Doyle; Dean Doyle, Dylan Dalton, Noel Roche (0-8, 7 frees); Shane Doyle, Michael Condon, Cuan Rossiter. Sub. - Paul Sinnott for P. Doyle.
Referee: Aiden O'Brien (Cloughbawn).