Early goals vital in Vins win
A superb first-half performance saw St Vincent’s knock reigning Andy Merrigan Cup champions Crossmaglen out of the competition in Navan on Sunday.
AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship Semi-Final
St Vincent’s 2-9
Crossmaglen Rangers 0-11
Vins forward Diarmuid Connolly shone at Páirc Tailteann to set up a repeat of the 1976 decider when the Marino club beat Nemo Rangers to claim their only ever title.
The Vins raced into a ten-point lead by the break backed by a strong wind and playing into the town end of the stadium.
Connolly top scored from play with 0-4 and began the day by winning a free for captain Tomás Quinn to pop over.
The Vins added a goal by the fourth minute to take a 1-1 to no score lead.
A Tiernan Diamond long ball found its way over the corner back Paul Kernan and Mayo man Brian Maloney was left unmarked to dispatch a powerful drive to the net.
Oisín McConville momentarily interrupted the one way traffic to open Cross’ account.
But Connolly immediately replied with a white flag after good work along the left endline.
The Vins with a strong wind at their backs hit four scores without reply between up to the 17th minute, amongst which was another green flag from Quinn.
A Kevin Golden high ball landed on the towering Pat Gilroy, who offloaded quickly to Quinn, who passed a low shot past Paul Hearty in the Cross’ goal.
By the break The Vins led 2-8 to 0-4 but were facing a strong breeze against a Cross side aiming to put All-Ireland titles back-to-back after the interval.
And the Armagh kingpins hit seven points to Vincent’s one – from Connolly – in the second half-hour period to reduce the deficit to four points.
But Vincent’s two goals in the opening period were enough to stave off any comeback and ensure the north Dublin club now lie just 60 minutes away from lifting the Andy Merrigan Cup
St Vincent’s: M Savage; P Conlon, E Brady, H Gill; T Doyle, G Brennan, P Kelly; H Coghlan 0-1, M O’Shea; K Golden, T Diamond 0-1, D Connolly 0-4; B Maloney 1-1, P Gilroy, T Quinn 1-2 2f. Subs: R Trainor for K Golden (on 55 minutes) and W Lowry for P Gilroy (60).
Crossmaglen: P Hearty; S Finnegan, T McEntee 0-1, P Kernan; A Kernan 0-1, J Donaldson, B McKeown; D McKenna, S Clarke; M Aherne, J McEntee 0-1, S Kernan 0-2; J Murtagh 0-1, T Kernan 0-1, O McConville 0-4, 4f. Subs: M McNamee for M Aherne (on 36 minutes), F Bellew for S Clarke (39), P McKeown for S Finnegan (43), J Hanratty for P Kernan (46) and K Carragher for J Murtagh (52).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)
Whelahan’s inspire Birr to victory
Former winners Birr will once again be in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day after they easily overcame the challenge of Ulster champions Dunloy in Clones on Sunday.
AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship Semi-Final
The first half was a tight affair with the Offaly and Leinster champions going in 0-7 to 0-6 up.
However, Pat Joe Whelahan’s side went up through the gears in the second half to run out fairly comfortable winners.
Birr hit the ground running with Brian Whelahan grabbing a brace of points and team-mate Sean Ryan also on target as the Midlanders stormed into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes.
Dunloy refused to lie down and they went on to hit four unanswered points with a hat-trick coming from Gregory O’Kane, including two frees, and the other point being notched by Damien McMullan.
Birr seemed stunned by going 0-3 to 0-4 behind and even though the teams proceeded to swap points, Dunloy still edged matters by the odd point in nine after 23 minutes.
The first half continued to be a game of fluctuating fortunes but the four-time All-Ireland club winners gradually found a real edge to their game and points from Paul Cleary, Rory Hanniffy and Barry Whelahan countered a fine effort from Paddy Richmond as the Offaly men went into the interval a point to the good.
As the second half wore on Dunloy came under increasing pressure even though Gregory O’Kane notched his fifth point to cut his side’s deficit to 0-8 to 0-11 with 13 minutes of the second half played.
But there was no stopping Birr and a brace of points from Simon Whelahan, his fifth point in a very impressive display, and one from sub Michael Dwane put the Offaly men out of sight.
A brace of points from Rory Hanniffy and Sean Ryan in the closing stages put the final nails in Dunloy’s coffin.