Na Piarsaigh's Gerard Smyth. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Anglo Printers JFC group four
Na Piarsaigh 2-16 St. Nicholas 1-8
Na Piarsaigh all but secured their place in the knockout stages of the junior championship courtesy of a comfortable double-scores victory over St. Nicholas in Louth Village on Sunday.
Nine clear at the interval, with David Boyle and Mark O’Hare finding the net, John Garvey’s team let-up somewhat during the second half, but still outscored the Drogheda natives by two points, 0-8 to 1-3.
The reason for any unease they may be feeling: Roche Emmets and Sean McDermott’s must play their outstanding round three fixture, where a victory for the Seans could either see Roche knocked out or the Naps finish in top spot, which would mean the Naps facing Westerns in the last eight.
Yet a runner-up finish looks most likely, and that would earn them a tilt at Naomh Malachi in the quarter-finals, a match-up of two lower half Division 3A clubs.
But with Robert Murphy in such good form, and with Mark Larkin and Paul Mallon to come back into the team, the Rock Road men will fear no-one and neither should they with the forward power they possess.
Also, Louth hurler Gerard Smyth impressed here, adding another string to their offensive bow. Smyth, Murphy and Shields were on target during an early spell where both Boyle and O’Hare found the net to install the winners with a 2-6 to two-point advantage.
Eddie Carr and Vinny O’Hare resisted for Nicks, but they still found themselves comprehen- sively shy at the break, 2-8 to 0-5.
And when the Naps registered five of the second half’s opening six points, stretching the lead to 13, hopes of a Nicks comeback were dashed, although Dave Leydon’s team did manage a late consolation goal from Carr.
Na Piarsaigh: Adam Molloy; Stephen Arrowsmith, Thomas Moran, Fergal Mulholland; Shane Roddy, Michael Woods, Stephen McGuinness; Jarlath Lyons, David Egan; Tommy Muckian (0-2), Robert Murphy (0-4, one free), Conall Shields (0-3); David Boyle (1-1), Mark O’Hare (1-0), Gerard Smyth (0-6, three frees & 45)
Subs: Eamon McAuley for Egan (HT), Ciarán Murphy for Lyons (HT), Chris Kellet for Boyle (52), David Boyle for R Murphy (60)
St. Nicholas: Shane Finnegan; Stephen Finnegan, Declan Heeney, Kevin Newman; Alex Reilly, Nuel Onianwa, Seán Savage; Eddie Carr (1-3), Johnny Carter; Evan Byrne, Philip Kirwan, Sam Reilly; Alex Finnegan, Vinny O’Hare (0-5, frees), Stephen Hodgins
Subs: Keith McCluskey for Savage (44), John Heaney for Hodgins (53), Brian Milne for Carr (60)
Referee: Gerard Corrigan (Mattock Rangers)