Nineteen-time champions St Kieran’s College displayed a cutting edge in front of goal at Fraher Field on Saturday to advance ominously to the Croke Cup semi finals.
St Francis College, Rochestown were unable to cash in on their first half superiority and the holders made them pay dearly. Goals from Tadhg O’Dwyer and Niall Walsh arrived during periods of dominance for their opponents.
Eight players contributed to their haul of 2-11. Energetic midfielder Richie Leahy provided three points and his partner Jason Byrne delivered a sideline cut in the closing moments. At the back, Michael Cody and Jack Keoghan gave very little away.
A soft and choppy surface proved troublesome for both teams throughout.
The dominance of Darragh Kelliher and David Griffin in the half back line allowed Rochestown settle. Four placed balls from Ciaran Cormack helped the Harty Cup finalists into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead after 17 minutes.
The Cork school failed to take two glaring goal chances, however. In the 10th minute, John O’Sullivan blasted over when he was presented with a one-on-one opportunity. Seven minutes later, Adrian Mullen deflected Shane Kingston’s shot away for a 65.
Kieran’s retrieved the situation before the interval. On 28 minutes, Billy Ryan burned his marker for pace and even though Andrew Cullinane stopped the initial shot, Tadhg O’Dwyer followed in. A spurt of 1-3 without response left them three points to the good at half time (1-5 to 0-5).
Kieran’s stretched five ahead by the end of the third quarter but they couldn’t shake off the red shirts. An individual effort from Shane Kingston and two Cormack frees narrowed to two (1-9 to 0-10) with five minutes remaining.
A Jason Byrne sideline in front of the stand disrupted the Rochestown flow. On 56 minutes, Billy Ryan teed up substitute Niall Walsh and he slammed the ball home.
Scorers for St Kieran’s: T O’Dwyer 1-1; N Walsh 1-0; R Leahy 0-3; J Connolly (free), R Lahart (frees) (0-2 each); L Blanchfield, S Morrissey, J Byrne (s-l) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Rochestown: C Cormack 0-7 (6 frees, 1 65’); S Kingston, D Kelliher, J O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
ST KIERAN’S: A Mullen; M Cody, T Walsh, J Barron; J Keoghan, J Cleere, E Walsh; J Byrne, R Leahy; L Blanchfield, S Morrissey, J Connolly; R Lahart, B Ryan, T O’Dwyer.
Subs: N Walsh for Lahart (54); D O’Connor for O’Dwyer (58).
ST FRANCIS COLLEGE: A Cullinane; D Murphy, J Cashman, K O’Donovan; D Kelliher, D Griffin, E O’Brien; D Meaney, J O’Sullivan; L Dineen, S Kingston, D Stack; D O’Mahony, C Cormack, S Powter.
Subs: M McAulliffe for Stack (40); J Holland for O’Mahony (58).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford)