| 6.8°C Dublin

Slick Syls ease to next round

STYLISH St Sylvester's made a short and successful trip down the road to Balgriffin as they comfortably accounted for Clondalkin's Round Tower in their Evening Herald Dublin SFC first round clash yesterday evening.

Most of the scoring damage was done by the Malahide club's corner-forwards -- former Dublin minor Aidan Relihan and Louth senior Darren Clarke, who contributed 1-11 of their side's tally, with Eoin Bennis acting as an intelligent foil at full-forward, creating numerous scoring opportunities for his more prolific team-mates.

Round Tower, despite a reasonably encouraging opening, struggled to match the intensity of their opponents as the first-half progressed with their fate sealed by the concession of an avoidable Eoin Fanning goal just two minutes into the second half.

It was the Clondalkin side who took an early lead when John O'Brien availed of good approach play from Eoin Moran and Mick Hallows to pop over a smashing score with his trusty left boot but Sylvester's were soon back on level terms following a free-flowing move which culminated in a tidy point by Clarke.

The marauding Colm McIntyre pushed the Malahide men ahead with a well-taken point on six minutes but Derek Murray embarked on a solo run of his own four minutes later to kick the score of the game, restoring parity in the process.

Round Tower's bright start dulled slightly from that point on with Bennis instrumental in much of Sylvester's positive approach play and his own point, added to by scores from Clarke and Relihan, took them three points clear before they struck for the game's opening goal on 20 minutes.

Its origin stemmed from the pressure placed by Bennis and Clarke on the Tower rearguard and there was a sense of inevitability as Barry Keane lost possession, allowing Bennis to find Relihan, who showed great composure in rounding Keith Graham before finding the corner of the net.

O'Brien kicked two frees to keep a flagging Round Tower in contention but with Brian Sexton, recent All- Ireland under-21 winner Gary Sweeney, Fanning and Jude Sullivan using their power and pace to great effect, Syls continued to force the issue.

Indeed, they should have registered more than just two points from Relihan and Clarke approaching half-time to show for their dominance as errant shooting accounted for nine wides in the opening period.

Leading by 1-7 to 0-4 at the break, Syls put the result beyond doubt on 32 minutes when an innocuous looking delivery from Ross Hazely was allowed to bounce and Fanning was on hand to palm to the net.

That Tower didn't crumble at this stage was testimony to their battling qualities with Ian Ward and O'Brien adding points to a smartly-taken goal from substitute Ciarán Carr in the 43rd minute. However, they left gaps at the back which were exploited by Syls with Sexton, Micheál McCarthy and Clarke taking full advantage with well-taken points.

With the game petering out to its inevitable conclusion, Round Tower narrowed the deficit to just five points with three minutes remaining when midfielder Liam Connolly rose highest to punch a speculative Jason Joyce delivery to the net, breathing new life into their challenge.

The grandstand finish never materialised, however, as Sylvester's confirmed their dominance with two late frees from Clarke and another Relihan point as they pulled away for a deserved eight-point victory.

SCORERS - St Sylvester's: A Relihan 1-4 (0-1f), D Clarke 0-7 (3f), E Fanning 1-1, E Bennis, C McIntyre, B Sexton, M McCarthy 0-1 each. Round Tower, Clondalkin: J O'Brien 0-5 (4f), C Carr, L Connolly 1-0, D Murray, I Ward, M Hallows 0-1 each.

ST SYLVESTER'S: R Wallace; B Ryan, F Carney, A Cleere; C McIntyre, B Sexton, D Galvin; R Hazely, J Coughlan; E Fanning, J Sullivan, G Sweeney; A Relihan, E Bennis, D Clarke. Subs: M McCarthy for Sullivan (37), C Cleere for Hazely (45), C Hanratty for Sweeney (49), N Coughlan for Bennis (52), B McGurk for Fanning (54).

ROUND TOWER, CLONDALKIN: K Graham; B Keane, J McCarthy, N Byrne; Derek Murray, I Ward, P Clifford; E Moran, L Connolly; D Whelan, M Taylor, J Joyce; J O'Brien, M Hallows, D Macken. Subs: C Carr for Macken and B Costello for Moran (ht), Damien Murray for Whelan (42).

REF: T Lambe (St Vincent's).