Ferns lay early marker
Ferns St. Aidan's 2-9 St. Fintan's 0-7
Ferns St. Aidan's put down an early statement of intent as they bossed St. Fintan's in St. Patrick's Park on Saturday to opening their Amber Springs/Ashdown Park Hotels Intermediate football championship Group B campaign with an impressive victory.
Minus several moments of brilliance from Donal Shanley in the first-half, and a couple of well-taken Jamie Sinnott points, this was a game that the Gorey District side completely dominated, and they were full value for their eight-point win.
There was nothing flashy about the way Ferns ground out this victory. They worked hard defensively as a team, built with patience and quality, and had two nippy inside forwards in Christopher O'Connor and Ryan Nolan capable of exploiting the chances their willing running created.
This group could prove very difficult for St. Fintan's to navigate to the knockout stages. Apart from Shanley's looping runs, they lacked a little cutting edge in the final third, and with Ballyhogue, Adamstown, HWH-Bunclody and Duffry Rovers still to come, it's not going to get any easier.
Ferns did a lot of the damage, especially psychologically, against the breeze in the first-half. A pair from Shanley had St. Fintan's 0-3 to 0-1 up, but the critical score came in the 15th minute when Ryan Nolan grasped in a long ball and dispatched it past Patrick McDonnell to the net.
St. Fintan's chances came and went in the couple of minutes either side of half-time. Ivan Meegan made up for a misplaced kick-out by saving David Moore's shot just before the interval to see his side in 1-3 to 0-5 up.
The Ballymore side went even closer in the first minute after the break. Shanley latched onto a breaking ball and brought a fantastic save out of the Ferns goalkeeper, but it rebounded to Robert Coakley who flashed it soccer style off the crossbar, bouncing down near the goal-line and spinning away to safety.
Ferns rarely looked troubled thereafter. The game was in the bag when O'Connor made the most of a perfect John Breen pass and fired to the Fintan's net in the 42nd minute to make it 2-6 to 0-6.
They didn't score again until added-time when Nolan grabbed a double and Patrick Breen pointed, but the result was never in doubt.
Ferns St. Aidan's: Ivan Meegan (0-2 frees); Keith Breen, James Tonks, Declan Byrne; Niall Murphy, Pádraig Bolger, Peter Nolan; John Breen, Patrick Breen (0-1); Brendan Jordan, James Lawlor, Derek Thorpe; Christopher O'Connor (1-0), Paul Morris (0-2), Ryan Nolan (1-4). Subs. - Ciarán Roberts for P. Nolan (53), Chris Turner for J. Breen, black card (55).
St. Fintan's: Patrick McDonnell (joint capt.); Shane Sinnott, Jim Rossiter, Kevin Day; Jamie Sinnott (0-2), Frank Staples, Brian Lacey; Conor Sinnott (0-1), Jason Pettit; Eoin Cummins, Donal Shanley (0-4), Niall Moore (joint capt.); Robert Coakley, Cathal O'Brien, David Moore. Subs. - Peter Goldsmith for Lacey, inj. (15), Pádhraic Rossiter for C. Sinnott, temp. (16-18), Brendan Hughes for J. Sinnott (40), Eoin O'Callaghan for Cummins (40), Rossiter for D. Moore (45).
Referee: John O'Loughlin (Monageer-Boolavogue).