St Brides moved a step closer to the knockout stages of the Intermediate Championship with a three-point win over St Kevins in Ardee on Saturday evening – but the Philipstown will rue a series of missed chances that condemned them to defeat.
Ciaran Deane’s first half goal proved the difference at Pairc Muire as the Brides beat the Kevins in the opening round of the Intermediate Championship for the second straight year.
Once again, a young Kevins team had no trouble in creating opportunities in front of the posts but their range deserted them. A total of 10 wides – compared to their opposition’s three – meant that even a late rally wasn’t enough to retrieve a game that had appeared lost, even at half time.
Deane’s goal – and four scores from marksman Sean Marry – had Declan McCoy’s team in control at the break, leading 1-07 to 0-03. Having goalkeeper Brandon Johnson receive a black card five minutes prior to half-time was preceded Deane’s goal and the Kevins could have been forgiven for thinking that circumstances were contriving against them, history repeating itself.
To their credit, they rallied well and ended the game within a score of securing a draw in this Group 2 encounter. The Brides will take on Roche Emmets next, with the Kevins knowing they need to improve against last year’s Junior Champions.
Deane notched the games first score before captain James Costello had a point attempt deflected over the bar. In between, Deane was denied a goal by Liam Boylan’s excellent block. Deane pointed again and it took until the 17th minute of play before the Kevins’ scored; TJ Doheny producing arguably the outstanding score of the half.
Either side of two Marry frees, Cian Callan split the posts from play and then his surge inside the Brides 40′ ended in James Harper notching a fine score, keeping his side within two of the leaders. But, even then Ciaran Kenny’s team were profligate in front of the posts – Callan and Enda McKenna among those to hit wayward efforts.
After Johnson left Deane stricken – which prompted namesake and referee Stephen Johnson to brandish the black card – Marry popped over another free. Two minutes later, Kevin Hearty shrugged off the attentions of his marker and found Deane, who finished unerringly past makeshift goalkeeper Eoin McKenna. A Marry free that went over, via the post, ended the half.
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The sides exchanged scores at the outset of the second half – Callan and Patrick Reilly doing the honours. But, Lee Crosbie’s missed 45 meant the Philipstown outfit were not making a dent in the deficit. Sub Sean Brennan scored seconds before another Crosbie free was missed, this time falling just short of the bar.
He found his range moments later and then the Kevins were unlucky not to hit the net as Darren Breen’s outstretched leg diverted Patrick Clarke’s goalbound effort to safety. It proved a pivotal moment as the Brides broke and Marry took his point.
By the time the Kevin’s built up any kind of rhythm, they faced an eight point deficit and the game had all but gone. At least they were able to notch six of the game’s last seven scores, proving to themselves if no one else, they do have the firepower to pick up the result they need to progress in the Championship.
The 2016 Junior Champions saw Less Crosbie hit three frees over, while sub Dylan Maher contributed two before Harper started and finished a move in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
ST KEVINS: Brandon Johnson, Eoin McKenna (Dylan Maher, 46), Finbarr Lynch, Aaron Khan, Darren McMullan (James Clarke, 52), Enda McKenna, James Harper, Seanie Crosbie, Lee Crosbie, TJ Doheny (Adam Harper, 52), Cian Callan, Patrick Clarke, Karl Martin (Shane Meade, 37), Evan Maher (Andrew Campbell, 40), Liam Boylan.
ST BRIDES: Darren Breen, Ronan Bailey, Cillian Kirk, James Costello, Michael Keane, Conor Deane, Andrew Smith (Shane Devin, 50), Liam Molloy, Patrick Reilly, Richie Halpenny, Sean Marry (Mark Hoey, 50), Ciaran Deane (Conall Devin, 57), Emmett Kirk (Sean Brennan, 37), Kevin Hearty (Neil Thornton, 42), Laurence Steen.
REFEREE: Stephen Johnson (Dreadnots)