Martin's make last eight
St. Martin's 0-16 St. James' 0-8
There's a subtle difference about St. Martin's this season and it was evident as the Piercestown-based club easily dispatched St. James' in Taghmon on Friday to rubber-stamp their quarter-final spot in the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship from Group B.
They look less likely to be caught by killer counter-attack goals. Previously, their expansive play, pretty on the eye but often kamikaze in style, left them wide open to quick-moving attacks at the other end.
That type of football has been good to them; they have racked up big wins, impressive performances and it has certainly helped a youthful squad bed in to the rigours of Senior football. However, defensive teams have caught them out.
St. James' were one of those sides, and the 2015 county final was one of those places. Crowd them out, hit them fast and with quality. That's going to be a lot harder to do to this current team though, as they are smarter, faster, more careful in defence.
Kevin O'Grady is one forward you don't want to leave one-on-one. St. Martin's had their problems keeping him under wraps; cards came out for defenders, frees were conceded but he never managed to get in behind the full-back line and that's of critical importance.
This game followed the Glynn-Barntown/Shelmaliers meeting and was notably different. It was a typically modern tie with both sides moving in waves both forwards and backwards, and everything was very structured.
There was one telling passage of play. At one point, seven minutes into the second-half, 29 players were in the St. James' half of the field. Then, like the tide, it all switched and 90 seconds later everyone on the field except 'keeper John Ryan was in the other half.
It only lasted for a few seconds at either end and it makes the game sound ultra-defensive but it wasn't, it's just the flow of modern football. All in all it was an interesting game for more than three-quarters until it became evident that there was only going to be one winner.
St. Martin's dominated the opening 21 minutes with the breeze at their backs. They looked to get diagonal balls in quickly to the forwards in that spell and it worked well. Ciarán Lyng had a few misses linked to his account before he cancelled out a Jamie Myler free in the seventh minute.
After Lyng put his side ahead, Darren Codd had a sniff of a goal chance but drilled over the top. The experienced Lyng added one from play and then attempted an audacious chip over Ryan that the St. James' 'keeper deflected over the crossbar.
Jake Firman put St. Martin's 0-6 to 0-1 ahead at the end of the opening quarter. Myler hit back from a free but his side were struggling to keep their heads above water. Three more from Lyng brought his tally to seven in the half, while Joe Coleman also sent over a booming effort.
Up by 0-10 to 0-2, having scored nine points in the previous ten minutes, St. Martin's went ice cold to end the half. Sporting a gleaming white bandage on his forehead, Graeme Molloy popped over his side's third score and Shane Murphy later added a classy point to cut the gap to six at the interval.
The break came at the wrong time for St. James', and on the other hand it gave their opponents a chance to re-focus and, with Daithí Waters, Codd and Ryan Murphy (two) on target, St. Martin's extended into a 0-14 to 0-4 lead in the 38th minute. Their build-up was now slower, it was controlled football.
There was never a moment when the Ramsgrange side looked like putting a significant string of scores together, but Brian Molloy and Jamie Myler did add a pair each in a twelve-minute spell straddling the middle of the half, with Ben Maddock the only scorer at the other end, to move within seven.
Yet, St. Martin's were able to close out the game without dipping heavily into the Junior side and rounded off a double-scores victory with Lyng's eighth and final point in the final minute of the contest.
While their opponents are safely through to the knockout stages, St. James' go into the final game with a real need for victory. They were in a very similar spot two years ago so everything is possible, as they probably know better than any other team.
St. Martin's: Tomás Hayes; Mikey Coleman, Joe O'Connor, Harry O'Connor; Aaron Maddock, Willie Devereux (capt.), Ben Maddock (0-1); Daithí Waters (0-1), Jamie Carty; Darren Codd (0-2), Jake Firman (0-1), Joe Coleman (0-1); Ciarán Lyng (0-8, 4 frees), Ryan Murphy (0-2), Paudie Kelly. Sub. - Philip Dempsey for Codd, inj. (45).
St. James': John Ryan; Paul Barron, Jason Barron, Greg Doyle; David Doyle, Graeme Molloy (capt., 0-1), Robbie Barron; Brendan Doyle, Daniel Keating; Shane Murphy (0-1), Jamie Myler (0-4, 3 frees), Brian Molloy (0-2, 1 free); Donal Barron, Kevin O'Grady, Emmet Dunning. Subs. - Darragh Lyons for G. Molloy, temp. (8-12), Tommy Walsh for D. Barron (39), Liam Murphy for S. Murphy (41), Adam Parle for Dunning (44), Mark Molloy for Keating (44).
Referee: Anthony Tobin (Geraldine O'Hanrahans).