Draw enough to put St. James' through
ST. JAMES' wrapped up qualification from Group A of the Lodgewood Engineering Intermediate football championship with a tense draw against battling Kilrush in Bellefield on Saturday last.
In truth the Ramsgrange men were a little fortunate to get out of the clash with the crucial point they needed. A blistering first quarter saw them streak clear into a strong seven-point lead but from that moment on Kilrush dominated and really could have claimed the win that would have kept their hopes of progression alive.
Hamstrung by Matthew O'Hanlon's travels, Graeme Molloy's injury and Brendan Doyle's honeymoon, the New Ross District side flew out of the blocks with points from Greg Doyle, Mark Molloy (two) and Kevin O'Grady in the first nine minutes (0-4 to 0-1).
The flying start improved further five minutes later when O'Grady released Emmett Dunning for the game's only goal. When Molloy, John Foley and Dunning were all involved in setting up Daniel Keating for St. James' fifth point (1-5 to 0-1), Kilrush looked to be heading for a heavy defeat.
However, after both Shane Murphy and Donal Barron were forced off injured, the game started to turn. Kilrush, playing against the breeze in the opening half, dominated territorially as the period wore down and they closed the gap to four (1-5 to 0-4) at the interval following minors from the excellent P.J. Nolan and Conor Levingstone (two).
The comeback continued early in the second period with all three of the inside forwards scoring to close the deficit to one. St. James' broke a 28-minute scoring drought when Molloy found the target from a dead ball.
A thundering long-range effort from Billy Nolan and a minor from substitute Brian Hayden did draw the Gorey District side level for the first time since the third minute. However, Kilrush could never edge their noses in front.
Kevin O'Grady put his St. James' side one up in the final minute but Kilrush did manage to grab an equaliser in added time when Levingstone pointed, after Billy Nolan was felled, to give both sides a share of the spoils.
St. James': John Ryan; Robbie Barron, Brian Kennedy, Paul Barron; David Doyle, Jason Barron, Greg Doyle (0-1); Jamie Kent, Daniel Keating (0-1); Shane Murphy, Mark Molloy (0-3, 1 free), Donal Barron; Kevin O'Grady (0-2, 1 free), John Foley, Emmett Dunning (1-0). Subs. - John McDonald for Murphy, inj., William Murphy for D. Barron, inj., Peadar Murphy for Kent, inj., Richie Waters for Dunning.
Kilrush: John Harte; Tomás Hayden, Frank Lancaster, Martin Hayden; Tom Kavanagh, Colm Buttle, James Lancaster; Patrick Nolan, Shane Tomkins; Pádraig Byrne, P.J. Nolan (0-1), Gary Doran; Colin Sunderland (0-1), Billy Nolan (0-2), Conor Levingstone (0-5, 4 frees). Subs. - Brian Hayden (0-1) for Byrne, Ray Lancaster for Sunderland.
Referee: Roly Buckley (Ballyhogue).