Ben Colier (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Newtown Blues 2-14
St Josephs 0-14
A shock could have been on the cards here, as had been predicted in last week’s paper. However, despite St Josephs looking like the better team early on, goals in either half from Alan Connor and Robert Carr proved decisive for the Newtown Blues in Darver.
It seems as though the men from Drogheda can never put in a 60-minute performance, for a third game in row they started very flat.
But Des Lane’s side seemed to know when to peak, digging deep in the second half and finding another gear against a Joes side that found little down the stretch when it really mattered. But are pockets of good form really enough to win the Joe Ward back? That’s up for debate.
The men from Dromiskin and Darver, fresh from their demolition job of Dundalk Gaels, started just as they had left off in Clan na Gael Park, dominating possession all while grabbing the opening three scores of this contest. Those points coming from Ben Colier, Gabriel Bell and Jack Mulligan.
For the first 10 minutes of play, they essentially stayed camped in the Blues half of the pitch, forcing turnovers anytime they went long from their kickouts and drawing fouls after some nice movement when on the ball.
Bell and Colier were the main protagonists, looking calm on the ball, all while a mix of solo running and accurate passing kept defenders guessing. Coupled with a fine target man in Craig Doherty, who was also skilful from places balls, and you had a real recipe for a shock here.
It took 12 minutes for the Newfoundwell to get on scoreboard via Robert Carr. Slowly but surely, they found their feet, helped significantly by reverting to short kickouts. Anything going long was at this stage golloped up by either Bell or Conal McCaul.
But a mistake from a Joes defender saw the Blues take the lead on 19 minutes. John Kermode tried to play the ball towards another attacker and it really should’ve been cleared. In the end it fell to Alan Connor who burst the back of the net to leave his side 1-2 to 0-4 In front.
However, they failed to push on from here, Enda McKeown and Cian Smyth’s troops showing the larger urgency as their opponents slipped into that all too familiar flat spot that have become a characteristic of their approach to matches.
McCaul and Kilian Staunton were immense in the air as they won numerous frees and marks following Joes kickouts. They were often used as a platform for Bell, who ended the half with four points from play.
The men from Drogheda were still doing just enough stay in front. Anytime they ventured forward they made it count. Colm Judge was recalled to the starting 15 having had a great impact off the bench against St Pats.
He was involved in pretty much all ventures forward, alongside fellow sub from last week in Carr. The duo grabbed three between them, while John Kermode and Fergal Donohue also chipped in with a point apiece. That was enough to stay marginally in front, 1-7 to 0-9 at the turn.
The sides would trade two apiece in the next ten minutes before the vital second goal came the way of the 2019 champions. A long ball into the corner was won by Kermode. He duly fisted it back into the path of the awaiting Kerr who drove the ball past Jordan Mackin to open up a four-point lead.
At this stage they were turning the ball over in their own half a lot more, leading to less chances for St Josephs and more time on the attack for the Blues as the game entered the final quarter.
The Joes needed a goal and almost got it on 51 minutes, a Collier angled solo run tearing up the Drogheda side’s defence. His effort would be saved and ended up over the bar.
They threw everything but the kitchen sink at their opponents but were now struggling to make a dent on the deficit. Meanwhile the Blues finished the tie strongly, slotting over three of the last four scores to eke out a six-point win which doesn’t really do this young St Josephs team justice.
Newtown Blues: Johnny McDonnell; Conor Ayson, Ciaran Cluskey Kelly, Emmet Carolan; Alan Connor (1-0), Johnny Connolly, Daire Nally; Andy McDonnell (0-1), Fergal Donohue (0-1); Jamie Kelly, Colm Judge (0-2, 0-1), Conor Moore; Ciaran Downey, John Kermode (0-2), Robert Carr (1-5, 0-1 free). Subs: Cormac McQuillan (0-1) for Kelly (21), Conor Brannigan (0-1) for Moore (42), Declan McNamara (0-1) for Kermode (58).
St Josephs: Jordan Mackin; David Kieran, Ben Mulligan, Michael Staunton; Cillian Staunton, Liam O’Leary, Conor Neary; Conal McCaul (0-1), Gabriel Bell (0-4); Ben Colier (0-2), Conal Smyth (0-1), Craig Doherty (0-5, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45); Alan Lynch, Oisin McGuiness, Jack Mulligan (0-1 Free). Subs: Killian McDonnell for Lynch (30), Thomas Smyth for Conall Smyth (49), Shane McQuillan for O’Leary (54), Daire Smyth for Jack Mulligan (58).
Referee: Stephen Fitzpatrick
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.