Starlights show their true worth as live contenders
Starlights 1-14 St. James' 0-10
Starlights put their hat in the ring as live contenders when comfortably ousting St. James' from the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship race in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
The Enniscorthy outfit were always in control of this quarter-final tie, looking solid all over the field, and they certainly possess enough scoring forwards to trouble the defence of any of the sides left in the competition.
A blistering start paved the way for the Starlights triumph, as they raced into a 1-9 to 0-3 by the 19th minute, and although St. James' managed to outscore their opponents thereafter, with Jamie Myler doing his utmost to drag them back into the contest, the damage had already been done.
Starlights played some beautiful football in that early period of dominance and the goal, courtesy of a 13th-minute Dillon Redmond penalty, was just rewards for the attacking endeavour they showed from the off.
They couldn't have asked for a better start, with the nippy Darragh Pepper using his left boot to good effect, knocking over two quick-fire points inside the opening minute.
Alan Tobin then gathered a pass from Jack Kelly and split the posts, and on six minutes Kevin Foley raced clear, having been found by Rory O'Connor, and drilled a shot just over the bar when he may have had a goal on his mind.
St. James' looked to be getting to grips with the game as they struck three of the next four points through Kevin O'Grady, Matthew O'Hanlon and David Doyle, with Dillon Redmond (free) replying as they reduced the gap to two.
The mini-revival was quickly halted though, when Ryan Mahon illustrated his superb vision and passing ability by picking out the lung-bursting run of Kevin Foley, and when the latter was dragged down referee Damien Donovan had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.
Up stepped Dillon Redmond and he gave goalkeeper John Ryan no chance with the spot-kick, blasting a shot like an Exocet to the left-hand corner of the net.
With the St. James' rearguard under incessant pressure in the early stages, they were guilty of conceding too many scoreable frees, and Redmond and Alan Tobin continued to punish the indiscretions by converting the placed balls, while Ryan Mahon also got in on the scoring act as they built up a nine-point advantage.
However, Jamie Myler began to motor for the Jimmies and he re-ignited their hopes with three points on the trot, the first from a free, following by two lovely scores from play to leave the task a somewhat more manageable one at the break (1-9 to 0-6).
The Ramsgrange-based outfit needed a lightning start to the second-half to salvage any real chance of a fightback, but Starlights got the opening two points on the board, through Alan Tobin (free) and Kevin Foley who, not for the first time, burst through the heart of the defence.
A Jamie Myler free erased a smidgeon of that early damage, but a superb Dillon Redmond effort and a Darragh Pepper point put the Enniscorthy men firmly in control at 1-13 to 0-7.
Myler replied with a free, but seconds later Alan Tobin gathered a handpass from substitute Aaron Dobbs and calmly stroked a shot over the bar with 44 minutes on the clock.
The Starlights mentors may be slightly concerned by the fact that they didn't work the scoreboard in the final quarter, but the game was won at that stage and all St. James' could muster in response was two placed balls from Jamie Myler and Kevin O'Grady.
It just wasn't to be their day, with the late dismissal of Emmet Dunning also leaving a sour taste in their mouths, while Starlights will march into the semi-finals high on confidence.
Starlights: Pa Doyle; Rory O'Connor, Tom Wall, Mel Doyle; Jack Kelly, Kevin Foley (0-2), Anthony Roche; Nick Doyle, Liam Ryan; Alan Tobin (0-4, 2 frees), Richie Farrell, Dillon Redmond (1-4, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees); Darragh Pepper (0-3), Eamonn Furlong, Ryan Mahon (0-1). Subs. - Aaron Dobbs for Furlong, Ricky Fox for Roche, Anthony Roche for Wall (black card), Tomás Mahon for Pepper.
St. James': John Ryan; Paul Barron, Jason Barron, Greg Doyle; David Doyle (0-1), Shane Murphy, Robbie Barron; Brendan Doyle, Matthew O'Hanlon (0-1); Brian Molloy, Kevin O'Grady (0-2, 1 '45), Jamie Myler (0-6, 4 frees); Liam Murphy, Graeme Molloy, Mark Molloy. Subs. - Darragh Lyons for B. Molloy, Emmet Dunning for S. Murphy, Daniel Keating for M. Molloy, Donal Barron for L. Murphy.
Referee: Damien Donovan (Volunteers).