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donabate dons in marlay

St Patrick's Donabate withstood a second-half onslaught from Ballinteer St John's when claiming a narrow one-point victory in their highly entertaining Dublin Junior 'E' Hurling Championship Group 1 encounter at Marlay Park last Thursday evening.

The visitors shone in the opening period, producing superb passages of play that ensured they entered half-time with a healthy and deserved five-point interval lead.

However, St John's dominated the third quarter and drew level by the 42nd minute before their shooting went awry in the closing stages as they failed to score for the final 20 minutes.

A wide tally of 16 over the hour reflected Ballinteer's profligacy in front of goal with St Patrick's, by contrast, only registering a quarter of that number in a contest that was keenly-contested throughout.

St Patrick's played with the elements in the opening-half but they struggled for rhythm initially as the group leaders eventually took the lead in the fourth minute through a Denis Flanagan free after spurning three opportunities for scores prior to that.

Corner-forward Seán Murphy looked a threat for St John's from the opening whistle and he doubled his side's advantage a minute later to reward Ballinteer for an enterprising start.

However, the ensuing excellence of their opponents and their own fallibility in front of goal ensured the hosts failed to score for the following eighteen minutes as the seasiders assumed control of the contest.

A wonderful point from distance by Bryan Kelly, set-up by towering centre-back Noel Walsh, kick-started St Patrick's into gear with the lively Cormac Kelly levelling matters in the 8th minute from his first of four frees.

Kelly's searing pace was a huge asset for St Pat's in the first half especially, and it was little surprise as the visitors took the lead for the first time in the 10th minute when Donal O'Riordan pointed after excellent approach play from player-manager Niall O'Connor, whose brother was togging out for Ballinteer from centre-forward.


The procession towards the away goal was maintained as Cormac Kelly tagged on another free soon after and despite a scoreless period of seven minutes, Donabate moved three points clear as Kelly fed Conor Davey for a well-worked score.

Two further points arrived through Cormac Kelly and O'Riordan before St John's finally got the umpires working again through a Flanagan free in the 23rd minute.

The score failed to act as a springboard, however, despite the solid defensive offerings by Peter Fletcher, Tom Hayes and Barry Judge with late points from O'Connor and Davey leaving St Patrick's five points clear by the interval (0-9 to 0-4).

Whatever was said to St John's at the break worked a treat in the early stages of the second half, with Flanagan converting a free inside 40 seconds of the restart and another Murphy point a minute later added momentum to the home challenge.

Murphy could have added a goal to his tally in the 34th minute but he fired over when well placed and that miss was given added resonance when O'Riordan popped over an excellent point in what were becoming increasingly sporadic attacks by the away side.

The home pressure was incessant at this stage with Shane O'Connor pulling over the bar in the 39th minute and when midfielder Eoin Walsh landed another point two minutes later, St John's trailed by just the bare minimum.

A jinking run from Cian Morrissey culminated in a levelling score for Ballinteer in the 42nd minute, but in keeping with earlier wastefulness, it proved their final score of the contest, despite them enjoying a monopoly on possession against a tiring St Patrick's team.

However, Cormac Kelly's free in the 47th minute gave the visitors a lead to cling onto and although St John's created enough chances to share the spoils by the final whistle, a series of poor wides ensured a long but enjoyable journey home for the North County team.

Scorers - St Patrick's Donabate: C Kelly 0-4 (0-4f), D O'Riordan 0-3, C Davey 0-2, B Kelly, N O'Connor 0-1 each. Ballinteer St John's: D Flanagan 0-4 (4f), S Murphy 0-3, S O'Connor, E Walsh, C Morrissey 0-1 each.

St Patrick's Donabate: D Murphy; T Kelly, D Fallon, J Meighan; N Kealy, N Walsh, S Rock; B Kelly, J McTiernan; N O'Connor, C Davey, C Kelly; K McGill, D Murphy, D O'Riordan. Subs: T Culleton for McGill (18), C Noonan for Fallon (45).

Ballinteer St John's: D Taaffe; F Power, T Hayes, T Dillon; E Kelly, B Judge, P Fletcher; C Murphy, E Walsh; C Morrissey, S O'Connor, K Croke; S Murphy, D Flanagan, B Dollard. Subs: B Donnelly for Kelly (49).

Mentors - St Patrick's Donabate: Niall O'Connor, Conor Noonan. Ballinteer St John's: Conor Dolan, Ciaran Clabby, Graham Dent, Jim Devereux.

Referee: Shay Hurson (Lucan Sarsfields)

Wides: St Patrick's Donabate 4 (1+3) Ballinteer St John's 16 (7+9),

Conditions: Pitch a touch bumpy but fine weather nonetheless.

Player of the Game: Noel Walsh (St Patrick's Donabate)