Stephen Griffin was once again St Naul’s saviour as they edged out Glenfin in a hard fought quarter-final at a wet and windy Tir Chonaill Park on Sunday.
ST NAUL'S 0-7
The ace forward kicked six of his team's seven points, including a massive winning strike in the closing minutes.
Four of the six points were from frees in a master-class in the art of freetaking. And what made the ace marksman’s performance more remarkable was that he was having his first game in 12 weeks after a lengthy layoff with a medial knee ligament injury.
He only returned to training on Tuesday night and a final decision on whether or not he was fit to play was made just before the game.
He kicked two of his tally in the first half, one from the sideline about 40 metres out and into the wind.
This was a truly magnificent Maurice Fitzgerald-like strike and he followed it up minutes later with another superb strike from the opposite side of Tir Conaill Park, also from a free.
Those two strikes sent St Naul’s in one up, 0-4 to 0-3 after the teams had been level three times in the opening 20 minutes.
Glenfin had wind advantage in the opening half. And with Frank McGlynn directing operations at the back and charging forward at every opportunity, they set the tone and were the more cohesive outfit in the opening quarter.
But a combination of wayward shooting and well marshalled St Naul’s defence meant all they had to show for that early dominance were two points.
Stephen Carlin scored the first on three minutes and Karl McGlynn the second 20 minutes later.
St Naul’s suffered a body blow too early on when Peadar Mogan was forced out of the game on nine minutes after a clash of heads with John Rose.
Griffin kept the scoreboard ticking with two quick points on the resumption either side of a Stephen McDermott score.
St Naul’s led by two, 0-6 to 0-4, after 37 minutes. But with McDermott making an impact, Glenfin again took a grip and they were level for the fourth time thanks to points from Ciaran Brady and Daniel McGlynn, with a little under ten minutes remaining.
In a frantic closing ten minutes, and with conditions deteriorating and legs getting weary, Griffin stepped up to split the posts with the outside of his boot from 40 metres for the winner.
Glenfin went all out for a score in the closing minutes but they could not break down a strong St Naul’s rearguard.
ST NAULS; Paddy Burke; Conor McBrearty, Brendan McCole, Conor Gavigan; Stuart Johnston, Peadar Mogan, Martin Breslin; Lee McBrearty, Daniel Friel; John Rose, Aidan Meehan, Shane Conneely; Edward O'Kane, Barry Griffin (0-1), Stephen Griffin (0-6,4f).
Subs; Cathal Lowther for P Mogan, inj,9; Barry Rose for A Meehan, 55;
GLENFIN; Andrew Walsh; Daithi Carr, John Harkin, Gary Herron; Daniel McGlynn (0-1), Frank McGlynn, Paddy O'Connor; Stephen Ward, Michael McGlynn; Karl McGlynn (0-1), Jason Morrow, Gary Dorrian,; Stephen Carr (0-2,2f), Ciaran Brady (0-1), Eoin Donlon.
Subs; Gerard Ward for E Donlon, 24; Stephen McDermott (0-1) for Michael McGlynn, h/t; Conor Ward for P O'Connor, 46; Gavin McDermott for C Brady, 52;
REFEREE; Marc Brown (Four Masters)