St. Naul’s justified their favourites’s tag with a convincing win over Naomh Columba in the Intermediate semi-final in Towney on Saturday.
St Naul’s 3-8
Naomh Columba 0-9
The game was switched from Fintra due to the heavy rain and the conditions were difficult with driving rain for much of the encounter.
The exchanges were tough in the opening half with no quarter asked or given and Naomh Columba were still in touch at the break.
However, in the second half St. Naul’s greater firepower proved decisive with the Griffins and Shane Conneely especially leading the way.
The very difficult underfoot conditions made it a lottery for a good deal of the match and retaining possession was an art form.
St. Naul’s got the perfect start with Cathal Lowther up from the back to pop over the opening point inside a minute.
There was a lengthy stoppage for an injury to Martin Cunningham before Gavin McGinley levelled on 10 minutes and it could have been a goal as the ball broke to him from a high Michael Byrne delivery, but he pulled his effor over from almost under the crossbar.
Stuart Johnston levelled for the winners but Kevin McNern pushed Naomh Columba ahead again on 16 minutes.
The conditions led to the opening goal with a Noel McGinley pass going astray and Barry Griffin picked up to have a free run on goal and he made no mistake.
Pauric Ward hit a point in reply and Pauric O’Donnell denied Griffin a second goal from point blank range before a tough overcarry call on Lee McBrearty saw Oisin McGinley level matters on 24 minutes.
However, St. Naul’s struck for what proved to be a decisive second goal on 30 minutes with Paul McGroarty threading a pass to Stephen Griffin on the run and he fired to the net with his left.
In the time added on for Cunningham’s injury, Oisin McGinley had the final score of the half on 35 minutes to leave the half-time score, St. Naul’s 2-2, Naomh Columba 0-6.
Aidan Kennedy replaced the yellow carded Cathal Lowther at the break and Shane Conneely had St. Naul’s on the board inside 35 seconds.
Noel ‘Freddie’ McGinley responded with a great point, but then three points in-a-row from Barry Griffin, Conneely and Stephen Griffin pushed St. Naul’s five clear by the 42nd minute mark.
Naomh Columba kept plugging away but could only muster a point after an Andrew O’Gara punt forward was allowed to hop over the St. Naul’s bar.
Any chance of a Naomh Columba recovery were dashed when a poor kick-out was latched onto by Eddie Gallagher to slide home the third goal to put St. Naul’s on their way.
In the closing minutes Stephen Griffin added two more points, one a wonderful effort from a free on the sideline, 40m from goal, while Dermot McGuire brought down the curtain on the scoring.
St. Naul’s: Lee McBrearty; Cathal Lowther (0-1), Edward Kane, Conor McBrearty; Mark Ward, Stuart Johnston (0-1), John Rose; Fiachra McGinley, Daniel Friel; Brian McCabe, Andrew Gallagher, Shane Conneelyl (0-2); Paul McGroarty, Stephen Griffin (1-3,2f), Barry Griffin (1-1). Subs., Aidan Kennedy for Lowther ht; Eddie Gallagher (1-0) for A Gallagher 35; Enda Lynch for McGroarty 50; Barry Rose for F McGinley 56; Conor McDevitt for M Ward 59.
Naomh Columba: Pauric O’Donnell; Barry Carr, Martin Cunningham, Kieran McBrearty; Kevin McNern (0-1), Kevin Cunningham, Clement O’Gara; Andrew O’Gara (0-1), Michael Byrne; Dermot McGuire (0-1), Noel McGinley (0-1), Declan McGuire; Ryan Gillespie, Oisin McGinley (0-3,3f), Gavin McGinley (0-1). Subs., Pauric Ward (0-1) for K Cunningham 9; Paddy Byrne for G McGinley 40; Stephen Jones for M Byrne 50; Hugh Doherty for Carr 55.
Referee: Michael Mulhern (St. Eunan’s)