Ross Nally was in the Newtown Blues attack verus St. Joseph's in Dunleer tonight. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Anchor Tours SFC quarter-final
Newtown Blues 1-18 St. Joseph's 0-9
Newtown Blues didn’t break a sweat in taking their place in the last four of the Senior Football Championship on Saturday night as St. Joseph’s bowed out of contention.
Eleven clear at half-time, the outcome was all but determined with whatever hope Joe’s had of an unlikely comeback ended with Conor Branigan’s goal in the final minute of the first half.
Anthony Keenan’s men could have cleared their lines beforehand; however, having hesitated momentarily, Branigan drew on the dropping ball and by the time Seamus Quigley had got himself set, the winger’s effort was lying in the back of the net.
The second half was merely a time-killer and while Joe’s rallied to reach nine points, Blues had completely relaxed, failing to score for the final eight minutes.
It was all too easy for the champions, almost too natural and that’s where the ominousness of their run comes into play. Who will stop them from landing a second Joe Ward Cup on the spin, who can?
Joe’s actually opened the scoring, through the first of Alan McKenna’s three first half free conversions. But it took 27 minutes for them to get off the mark from play as David Kieran directed over the top, a return which was never going to threaten into the Blues’ relentless tide.
After McKenna opened the scoring, the next eight points went to Blues via Andy McDonnell (2), John Kermode, Branigan (2), Robert Carr (2) and Ciarán Downey. There was a brief competitive phase as McKenna and Kieran got in on the act for Joe’s, but then Blues hit back, ending the half with 1-2, Downey and Carr pointing either side of the only goal.
At half-time, the score read 1-12 to four points.
Colm Judge, Nally, Carr, Hugh McGinn and Judge again fired over as Blues scored all but one of the opening second half points, to lead 1-17 to five points entering the final quarter.
Joes’ Peter Brennan had a goal ruled out for a square ball subsequently and while it made them sigh once more, it altered the course to a degree as they closed strongly.
Four of the final five points were posted by the Cluskey Park charges, but they mattered little in the game’s overall scheme. And as Páirc Uí Mhuiri emptied, the same question was being asked: who can challenge the holders?
Newtown Blues: Dean Martin; Fergal Donohoe, Cormac Reynolds, Paul Moore; Kevin Carr, Emmet Carolan, John Connolly; Andy McDonnell (0-2), John Kermode (0-1); Conor Branigan (1-2), Ciarán Downey (0-3, two frees), Robert Carr (0-4); Colm Judge (0-2, frees), Ross Nally (0-2), Conor Moore
Subs: Hugh McGinn (0-1) for Kermode (33), Jamie Kelly (0-1) for Downey (39), Ronan Levins for Connolly (45), Alan Connor for Moore (49), Thomas Costello for Judge (51), Brian Kermode (55)
St. Joseph’s: Seamus Quigley; Conor Neary, Alan McKenna (0-3, frees), Stefan Potts; Aidan Kieran, Shane McQuillan, Liam O’Leary; Killian Staunton, Thomas Smyth (0-1); David Kieran (0-1), Dáire Smyth (0-1), Craig Doherty (0-1); Alan Lynch, Óisín McGuinness, Conall Smyth
Subs: Alan Quigley (0-2, one free) for David Kieran (29), Peter Brennan for McGuinness (45), Cian McGuinness for Staunton (47), Ben Mulligan for O’Leary (53), Philip Brennan for Aidan Kieran (58)
Referee: Kevin Brady (Pearse Óg)