Newtown Blues manager Ronan Phillips. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Anchor Tours SFC group two
Newtown Blues 1-17 Kilkerley Emmets 1-9
Newtown Blues underlined their strength in depth by brushing aside Kilkerley Emmets' spirited challenge at the Grove on Sunday night.
Minus county defenders Emmet Carolan and Fergal Donohoe, among several others from last year's Joe Ward-winning panel, the holders cruised to a second successive group win, with Ciarán Downey impressive in firing over 0-5, four from play.
Kilkerley, themselves, were without assets when, if they were to have any chance of springing a surprise, they required a full complement. Tadhg McEnaney's injury forced him out of proceedings and he's unlikely to be fit to face Naomh Máirtín in next weekend's winner takes all shoot-out.
Manager Paul Litchfield can take satisfaction from his team's finish to the opening half, where Shane Lennon and Daniel McKeown were on target. And, typically, Emmets never gave in and possessed an omnipresent threat through Lennon. The former Louth attacker played an integral role in Ciarán McGlynn's second half goal, fetching and laying off for James Fegan whose shot was palmed into the scorer's path by Blues 'keeper Dean Martin.
That momentarily cut the gap to six as the fourth quarter approached, but, helped by Thomas Costello's neatly-taken goal, eight separated the sides at the finish, as Ross Nally found his shooting boots, adding three from play.
However, Kilkerley at least gave themselves the consolation of losing by less than the Jocks did a week earlier and approach their round three meeting knowing a draw will send them through on scoring difference. Though, overcoming the Cardinal O'Donnell holders remains a tall order.
Despite facing an early barrage, the underdogs hung onto the Blues' coat-tails and trailed by just two by the 20th minute with Lennon, McKeown and Andrew McGuill scoring from play across a productive five-minute spell.
John Kermode, who would later be black-carded for a body check, Conor Branigan and Downey were puncturing gaps in their defence, though, and pointing at their leisure. Downey elegantly strode through at one stage, collecting at the end of a flowing team move, and hit a driving effort which the 'bar deflected off target.
The half-time margin stood at three, with Blues in the ascendency and leading seven points to four. However, they soon pushed ahead, with the contest over bar the shouting prior to McGlynn's major.
Newtown Blues: Dean Martin; Paul Moore, Aidan O'Brien, Paul Kellegher; Alan Connor (0-1), Cormac Reynolds, John Connolly; Stephen Moonan (0-1), John Kermode (0-2); Conor Branigan (0-2), Andy McDonnell (0-1), Ciarán Downey (0-5, one free); Colm Judge (0-1, free), Ross Nally (0-3), Conor Moore
Subs: Hugh McGinn (0-1) for Kermode (black card), Ronan Levins for Kellegher, Thomas Costello (1-0) for Moonan, Lorcan McQuillan for Paul Moore, Niall Costello for O'Brien
Kilkerley Emmets: Cillian Quigley; Cormac Bellew, Alan McGeough, Ciarán Clarke; Killian Kampes, Andrew McGuill (0-1), Shaun McElroy; James Fegan, Ciarán Bellew; Neil Mulholland, Seán Hand, Rian Hand; Ronan Mulholland, Shane Lennon (0-7, three frees), Daniel McKeown (0-1)
Subs: Kieran Murtagh for Kampes, Ciarán McGlynn (1-0) for Seán Hand, Conall McEnaney for Rian Hand, Niall Mulholland for Shaun McElroy, Fintan Clarke for Neil Mulholland
Referee: Stephen Johnson (Glen Emmets)