Hunterstown Rovers' Ryan Burns. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Hunterstown Rovers 4-8
Clan na Gael 1-8
Hunterstown Rovers booked their place in the Semi-finals of the Intermediate Championship for a second year in succession, their far more clinical edge in front of the posts proving the deciding factor.
On what was a beautiful evening under the lights in Darver, Clan na Gael were punished for hitting 12 wides, alongside numerous blocked chances and efforts dropped short.
Last year’s semi-finalists had a lot less of the ball, but made it count when getting possession, two goals apiece from the Burns duo, Ryan and Dean, the difference makers on the night.
As they have done right throughout the championship, both in victory against O’Raghallaighs and defeat to St Kevins, the men from the Ecco Road looked extremely comfortable on the ball and were capable of keeping it for prolonged periods.
However, what will annoy manager Alan O’Neill when he looks back on proceedings is his players’ decision making. Despite taking the lead though Billy Smith after just three minutes, they would miss six other attempts in the opening quarter.
Throughout the night they were not helped by lack of ball getting into the hands of Smith. He has been one of their most potent attackers, but was well marshalled by Hunterstown on the night.
Rovers too started the game with two wides, but from here showed that efficient streak, grabbing 1-4 without reply, having taken every opportunity available to them during a nine-minute purple patch.
Their ability to turn defence into attack at pace on the counter was tough to stop and the speed of play led to countless frees.
Ryan Burns was more then happy to tap three over during this period of dominance, along with an effort from play via James Rogers.
Their opening goal came on 19 minutes and was a huge turning point as the clans missed the chance to grab a goal themselves before being caught immediately on the counter.
Paul Crewe teed up Robbie Curran from close range only for Niall Carrie to make a crucial save. They broke at speed up the pitch in numbers. The end result being that Ryan Burns was pulled down in the square by Brain McDonnell resulting in a penalty.
From the spot, the county man didn’t disappoint.
Smith ended the Dundalk men’s 18-minute run without a score soon after, but before the half was up another goal came Rovers way, again after a missed opportunity down the other end.
This time it was after Shane Carroll missed a chance to grab a point and from the kickout they got the ball into the hands of Glen Mathews. Mathews spotted Tony McKenna who in turn saw Dean Burns in space. His powerful effort left Hunterstown 2-4 to 0-3 up at half time.
Not long after the break, Colm Donnelly’s troops put the tie beyond doubt, with another 1-2 without reply. Tony McKenna launched a ball deep into Clans territory. Ryan Burns brilliantly turned his marker before blasting home a bullet that left Rovers 11 clear after 37 minutes.
Dean Burns then got his second of the evening deep into the second half, once more after the Ecco Road men had missed their own chance to raise a green flag.
Robbie Curran's close range effort was blocked down. Ryan would eventually turn provider for Dean on the counter, his effort ricocheting off both the post and then the keeper before rattling the net.
A late consolation came the way of Conor Smith, who grabbed a goal with a little help from Billy Smith. But by this stage despite working extremely hard up until the final whistle, the tie was now well beyond them as Hunterstown marched on to the Semi-finals.
Clan na Gael: Sean Smith; Craig Callan, Brian McDonnell, Ian Carr; Craig Long, Conor Noonan, John Byrne; Paul Crewe (0-1), Conall McKeever; Mark Lee, Jason Cullen (0-1), Shane Carroll; Robbie Curran (0-1), Billy Smith (0-5, 0-4 frees), Sean O’Hanlon. Subs: Subs: Conor Smith (1-0) for Carr (20), Mark McGeown for Lee (37), Tiernan Weldon for Byrne (43), Gavin Gaffey for Cullen (54).
Hunterstown Rovers: Niall Carrie, Paul Carrie, Patrick Taafe, Martin Lennon; Alan Landy, Daithi Carroll, Jason Monaghan; Tony McKenna, Adam O’Reilly; James Rogers (0-1), Glen Mathews, Shane Halpenny; David Finn (0-1), Ryan Burns (2-6, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees, 0-1 mark), Dean Burns (2-0). Subs: Cillian Taafe for O’Reilly (50), Ryan Ward for Monaghan (58), Brendan Lennon for Dean Burns (58).
Referee: Paul Kneel
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