A COMBINED tally of 3-7 from their inside forward line proved pivotal as St Jude's narrowly got the better of Na Fianna in their Group C clash at Parnell Park yesterday evening.
ST JUDE'S 3-17 NA FIANNA 1-20
St Jude's impressed from the outset with two early frees from Joseph McManus preceding their opening goal as Neil Murphy showed pace and accuracy when firing low beyond Andy Flaherty in the eighth minute.
Fellow corner-forward Tom Devlin was soon showing his prowess with a sharp turn that left Danny Flaherty in his wake and an impudent finish to the net stretched his side's lead to seven points by the 11th minute.
Na Fianna fought back well with the free-taking of Joseph Boland hauling the Glasnevin men back into contention and he adorned an impressive opening with two scores from play to reduce his side's arrears to two points by the 20th minute.
St Jude's steadied the ship with Danny Sutcliffe's move to midfield securing a greater amount of possession and two points in quick succession from John Ryan ensured a 2-7 to 0-10 interval lead.
The second-half remained equally tight with the intensity gradually rising to championship pitch and the quality improved immeasurably as reflected in wonderful scores on either side from Martin Quilty and Devlin.
Boland's prowess from play and placed ball helped leave the bare minimum between the sides by the 48th minute, but a sensational solo score by Devlin restored Judes' composure and a pass from Murphy to Ryan culminated in a clinical third goal in the 51st minute.
Inevitably, it was Boland who offered Na Fianna a degree of hope when converting to the net from a 20-metre free but Jude's replied through late scores from Ronan Joyce and Sam Lehane to secure a crucial victory.
Scorers - St Jude's: J McManus 0-7 (6f, 1 '65'), T Devlin, J Ryan 1-3, N Murphy 1-1, N Mangan, R Joyce, S Lehane 0-1 each. Na Fianna: J Boland 1-14 (1-10f), M Quilty, F Breathnach 0-2, A Keogh, F Breathnach 0-1 each.
ST JUDE'S: M Hartnett; E McLoughlin, S McLoughlon, C Mangan; A O'Byrne, S Larkin, V Walsh; N Mangan, R Joyce; J McManus, S Lehane, D Sutcliffe; T Devlin, J Ryan, N Murphy.
NA FIANNA: A Flaherty; E O'Leary, B Shanahan, D Flaherty; D Brennan, W Lyons, D Ó Maoiléidigh; M Quilty, F Breathnach; C McHugh, J Boland, N Ó Ceallacháin; D Forde, A Keogh, D Broderick. Subs: T Brady for Broderick (35), A Jesson for Keogh (43).
REF: Fergus McGreevy (St Oliver Plunkett's/ER).