St Kevin's lay down marker
GAA: under-20 football championship - St Kevin's 1-14, Pearse Gaels 0-5
St. Kevin's powered their way to victory over Pearse Gaels in the opening round of the Under-20 Football Championship on a brisk, but sunny morning in Valleymount on Sunday last.
It took a strong second-half performance by the west side to overcome a battling Pearse Gaels side who started the game much the brighter than the home side.
It was Pearse Gaels who had the first chance to register a score after a great pass in from Lee Turner to his full-forward Conor Odlum whose goal-bound shot took the paint of the wrong side of the upright in the opening attack.
Shortly after, Kian Marah split the posts with a well-executed shot to put the Gaels on the board in the second minute.
The home side bagged a brace of bad wides in the next period. Oisin Hill had a powerful shot parried out by the St Kevin's goalie, Ryan Willoughby, for a 45.
The midfield pairing of Cian Walsh and Lee Turner both had powerful outings in the opening half, constantly providing plenty of good ball to their inside forward line for the Newtown/Ashford combination side.
St Kevin's broke up the field after a darting run by Padraig Keogh, leaving three defenders' in his wake, ended with another goal chance gone abegging for St Kevin's, as Keith Burke's final shot, flied into the side netting.
St Kevin's kept going for the jugular, but some rushed wayward shooting did not help their cause as the wide count rose.
Eventually in the 16th minute, Gary Walsh fired over the levelling point after a powerful run by Ben O'Keeffe. Walsh tagged on another point from a placed ball, as the home side slowly settled into the game.
Ryan Mulvey angled over a fine point, after a great block by Robert Coyne prevented a score up the other end for Pearse Gaels.
The industrious Lee Turner laid off to Kian Marah whose shot just dropped short and was cleared as now it was the Pearse Gaels side who could not buy a score.
Keith Burke and Ryan Mulvey further increased the lead with a point apiece going into the closing five minutes of the first half.
However, the Gaels rallied again, with Conor Odlum raising a white flag from a free before Lee Turner dinked four defenders and curled over a monster of a point close to the end of a tightly contested first half.
Eoin Clarke harvested a point after a clinical run by Tadgh Miley for St. Kevin's before an outrageous point by the lively Gael's full-forward, Conor Odlum on the half-time whistle left the score reading St Kevin's 0-6 to 0-4 for Pearse Gaels.
St Kevin's introduced a couple of fresh legs on the restart. The impressive Ben O'Keeffe landed the opening point on the restart for the home side.
It was at this stage St Kevin's got some momentum going as a trio of points were rattled off. Midfielder Conall Byrne burned a track down the pitch, beating a number of defenders before unleashing a bullet to the back of the Gaels net to close out the third quarter as St Kevin's now turned the screw and led by 1-10 to 0-4.
Pearse Gaels battled on and a Lee Turner piledriver was somehow cleared from crossing Ryan Willoughy's goal line.
Robbie Miley was introduced for St Kevin's and his impact was instant, setting up the next brace of points for his colleagues, with the pick of them a Harry Houlihan long-range strike finding the target.
Another shot by Harry Houlihan was brilliantly saved by Cormac Doyle. A great run by Luka Harney set up Keith Burke to fire over the final point of the game.
Pearse Gaels will hope to get a win when they play Clan na Gael next, while St Kevin's face a huge battle away to Killaveney in Tinahely in Round 2.
Scorers - St Kevin's: Gary Walsh 0-4 (2f), Keith Burke 0-4 (1f), Conall Byrne 1-0, Ryan Mulvey 0-2, Ben O'Keeffe 0-2, Harry Houlihan 0-1, Eoin Clarke 0-1.
Pearse Gaels: Kian Marah 0-2 (1f), Conor Odlum 0-2 (2f), Lee Turner 0-1.
St. Kevin's: Ryan Willoughby; Eoin Harkin, Donnacha Halpin, Christy Mooney; Robert Coyne, Tadgh Miley, Harry Houlihan; Conall Byrne, Luka Harney; Ben O'Keeffe, Gary Walsh, Ryan Mulvey; Eoin Clarke, Keith Burke, Padraig Keogh. Subs: Shane Kearney, Robbie Miley, Brian Manning, Conor Reid, Evan Burke.
Pearse Gaels: Cormac Doyle; Eoghan Doyle, Rian Dwyer, Kael Scott; Conor Diarmaid, Cian Staunton, Gary McCann; Lee Turner, Cian Walsh; Ruadhan F Verbruggan, Oisin Hill, Kian Marah; Will Kelly, Conor Odlum, Adam Crean. Subs: Jack Elliott.
Referee: Eamon Doyle (Kiltegan)