O'Keeffe gives star display
St. Anne's 1-17 Shamrocks 1-10
Wexford star Diarmuid O'Keeffe was the key difference in helping St. Anne's to emerge with a seven-point victory over a battling Shamrocks outfit in this exciting The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship quarter-final in Hollymount on Saturday.
It was a polished display, particularly from O'Keeffe, that saw St. Anne's qualify for the semi-final against HWH-Bunclody, in the process continuing their bid to return to Senior ranks at the first time of asking.
Inspired by O'Keeffe through a wind-assisted first-half, they turned over with a 16-point interval lead, with the Wexford star picking off some fine points, while also assisting in numerous other scores.
And he really shone through the second 30 minutes, when dropping back to assist his over-worked defence. He patrolled the half-back line superbly to curtail the Shamrocks attack, helping to secure an impressive victory.
Mark Furlong opened the scoring with a third-minute pointed free, and by the tenth minute St. Anne's had shot into a 0-5 to nil lead with further points from O'Keeffe (two), Francis Simpson and Liam Rochford.
Unfortunately for Shamrocks they were unable to get into the game as Mark Furlong and Seamus Mythen dominated midfield, going on to add further points through Finn O'Driscoll and a Furlong free, before Shamrocks opened their account through a Maurice Casey 21st-minute pointed free.
While it was a good start for St. Anne's, they finished the half even more impressively, adding a further seven points through Liam Rochford and Furlong frees (two apiece), O'Keeffe and Jonathan Fogarty to lead by 1-14 to 0-1 at the interval.
The goal arrived three minutes before the break and was a clinical finish from close in from Liam Rochford.
Shamrocks showed real spirit on the resumption, scoring four points inside the opening five minutes through Brandon O'Connor, Casey, Harry Goff and John O'Connor.
While they followed with further points from Jack Moorehouse and a George Jacob long-range effort, they still trailed by 1-14 to 0-7 at the end of the third quarter.
St. Anne's had their first second-half score, a 48th-minute pointed free from Furlong, but they still managed to control the game, holding their composure into the gale-force wind.
They still led by 1-16 to 0-10 when Brandon O'Connor fired home a superb 25-metre shot to the net to reduce the deficit to six points with three minutes remaining. St. Anne's closed out the scoring through a Furlong pointed free to take a deserved victory in the end.
St. Anne's: Redmond Barry; Kevin White, Tomás Cullen, Páraic O'Keeffe; Kenny Cloney, Aidan Rochford, Finn O'Driscoll (0-1); Mark Furlong (0-6 frees), Seamus Mythen; Jonathan Fogarty, Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-4), Jess Codd (0-1); Mikey Fogarty, Francis Simpson (0-1), Liam Rochford (1-4). Sub. - Philip Rawson for J. Fogarty (60).
Shamrocks: Jamie Dagg; Barry Dobbs, Mick Weafer, George Jacob (0-2, 1 free); Podge Doyle, Brandon O'Connor (1-1), Bob Jacob; Jim Jacob, Anthony Wallace; Karl Cullen, Maurice Casey (0-3, 1 free), Harry Goff (0-2); John O'Connor (0-1), Seán Wildes, Jack Moorehouse. Subs. - Lar McDonald for J. Jacob (45), Cyril Thorpe (0-1) for Cullen (50).
Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure).