O'Byrne leads Martin's charge
Edmond O'Byrne kicked six points as St. Martin's cruised to a comfortable 13-point victory over a disappointing Gusserane outfit in this Greenstar Under-21 football Premier championship quarter-final at Gusserane on Saturday.
St. Martin's 1-11 Gusserane 0-1
Dominating midfield throughout the 60 minutes, O'Byrne struck for four first-half points when assisted by the strong breeze, but it was his control in the second period into the elements that played such a crucial role in his side's eventual victory.
For Gusserane it was a disappointing display, the second-half in particular, as they looked very much in contention when they trailed by just five points at the interval.
However, the warning signs were quite evident, particularly as they failed to register a score through that opening spell, while they showed little improvement on the resumption as they seldom threatened the eventual winners' defence.
Guided by the inspirational play of O'Byrne in midfield, the Martin's struck the front early on through a Ryan Murphy point.
Indeed, had they made better usage of their possession, they would not have had to be reliant on four O'Byrne points to give them a 0-5 to nil interval lead, but over-elaborate approach work saw a raft of opportunities go astray.
Some form of a response was expected from the home side with the assistance of the breeze, but St. Martin's benefited greatly from the ability of both O'Byrne and Joe O'Connor to win midfield possession.
Within two minutes of the re-start full-forward Seán Stafford kicked over a point, with Gusserane having to wait until the 36th minute for their opening score, a Mark Rossiter pointed free, which turned out to be their one and only of the entire game.
The die was well and truly cast when Ed O'Byrne and Rory O'Connor followed with two further points.
The visitors had coasted into an 0-11 to 0-1 lead, as Gusserane offered only token resistance, before they struck for the only goal one minute into additional time.
Following good play from Jake Firman, Seán Stafford rounded the 'keeper to shoot low to the net.
St. Martin's: Nicky Greene; Conor Firman, Evan Dunbar, Harry O'Connor; David Kelly, Aaron Maddock, Jake Firman; Edmond O'Byrne (0-6), Joe O'Connor (0-1); Rory O'Connor (0-1), Joe Coleman, Ryan Murphy (0-1 free); Darragh Rossiter, Seán Stafford (1-2), Eoghan Rackard. Subs. - Darren Codd for Rackard, Mikey Coleman for Dunbar, Barry O'Connor for Rossiter.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Mark O'Neill, Jack O'Connor, Ciarán Conway; James Kinsella, Liam Dillon, Tom Foran; Darragh Doyle, John Roche; Seán O'Connor, Evan O'Neill, Mark Rossiter (0-1 free); Martin Fitzharris, Páraic Conway, Seán Ryan. Subs. - Donal Kiely for M. O'Neill, Eoin Foran for Kinsella, O'Neill for Roche.
Referee: Fintan O'Reilly (Kilmore).