LEINSTER CLUB SHC
Birr blast their way into final BIRR 4-21; ST MULLIN'S 0-8 REIGNING All-Ireland club champions Birr cruised into the Leinster final with a landslide win over St Mullin's of Carlow at O'Moore Park yesterday.
Two weeks ago at the Portlaoise venue, the Offaly kingpins struggled to see off a gallant Castletown side from Laois, but on this occasion it was no more than a stroll in the winter sunshine for Birr.
They were just 0-3 to 0-2 ahead after eight minutes, but then two goals in the space of as many minutes from Stephen Browne and Paul Molloy ended this semi-final as a contest.
The Carlow champions, surprise winners over O'Toole's of Dublin last time out, trailed by 2-10 to 0-4 at the interval.
Early in the second half Pat Cody scored a couple of fine points for St Mullin's, but Birr replied with a succession of points from Niall Claffey, Brian and Simon Whelehan.
Midfielder Rory Hanniffy scored their third goal midway through the half and Simon Whelehan added the fourth two minutes from the end.
Birr return to the same venue in two weeks' time to face Gowran in the final and on yesterday's evidence, it is going to take something special to halt their march towards a record fourth national title.
SCORERS Birr: S Browne, S Whelehan 1-3 each, P Molloy, R Hanniffey 1-1 each, D Pilkington, B Whelehan 0-3 each, P Carroll, J Pilkington 0-2 each, L Power, D Hayden, N Claffey 0-1 each. St Mullin's: Pat Coady 0-6, D Doyle, A Ralph 0-1 each.
BIRR B Mullins; G Cahill, J Errity, JP O'Meara; D Franks, B Whelehan, N Claffey; B Whelehan, R Hanniffy; P Molloy, J Pilkington, G Hanniffy; S Browne, D Pilkington, S Whelehan. Subs: L Power for R Hanniffy, D Hayden for P Molloy, P Carroll for G Hanniffy, P O'Meara for JP O'Meara, M Dwane for N Claffey.
ST MULLIN'S P Fenlon; E McDonald, T Doyle, M Kehoe; R Dreelan, S O'Shea, A Ralph; D Kavanagh, Paddy Coady; P Kehoe, Pat Coady, S Gahan; D Murphy, M Ryan, D Doyle. Subs: P Murphy for D Doyle, W Coady for T Doyle.
REF P Neary (Kilkenny).