TWO goals inside the opening eight minutes set St Patrick's of Palmerstown on their way to a comfortable 10-point victory over Naomh Fionnbarra in their Dublin SHC Group D encounter at Parnell Park last night.
The win all but secured a quarter-final berth for St Pat's, who will have a last-eight spot confirmed if St Vincent's fail to beat Ballyboden St Enda's in this evening's other Group D encounter.
After conceding the opening score courtesy of a Shane Stapleton free in the third minute, the Cabra men were architects of their own misfortune when falling behind further to a crucial opening goal a minute later.
There seemed little danger when a delivery from Des Rushe looked to be travelling wide, but with Lar Sweetman hesitant in the Finbarr's goal, Aidan Glennon nipped in with an almost apologetic finish that rolled across the line.
Worse was to follow in the eighth minute as Stapleton was afforded too much room and although Sweetman blocked his initial attempt, Ian Burke was quickest to react with a smart strike from close range.
It took Finbarr's 14 minutes to eventually open their account through an Eamonn Dillon free with Ger Doddrill landing an excellent long-range free soon after, in addition to Ryan Curley's effort to reduce his side's arrears.
However, St Pat's tagged on a brace of scores through Stapleton, with Glennon also finding the target with a sublime point from an acute angle in the 23rd minute to further emphasise his side's supremacy.
Stapleton's well-taken score two minutes later pushed Pat's eight points clear before a brace of Dillon frees approaching the break confirmed a 2-5 to 0-5 interval lead for the Palmerstown club.
That advantage was increased when Stapleton netted from a 20-metre free within five minutes of the restart, but far from building on that momentum, St Pat's ceded territory, allowing scores from Doddrill, Curley and Dillon.
However, despite enjoying greater amounts of possession, Finbarr's struggled for that elusive goal to reignite their challenge and Stapleton's second goal following a pass by Robbie Carson effectively settled the contest seven minutes from time.
SCORERS – St Patrick's Palmerstown: S Stapleton 2-7 (1-4f, 0-1 '65'), A Glennon 1-1, I Burke 1-0. Naomh Fionnbarra: E Dillon 0-6 (3f), G Doddrill (1f), R Curley 0-2 each.
ST PATRICK'S PALMERSTOWN: D Gallagher; C Dolan, G Kelly, A Kennedy; B Gilbert, K Ward, B O'Hanlon; L Rushe, D Rushe; I Burke, D O'Hanlon, S Stapleton; P Faughnan, A Glennon, N Sweeney. Subs: D Mooney for Gilbert (24), P Keaney for Sweeney (41), R Carson for Burke (52),Gilbert for Kelly (59).
NAOMH FIONNBARRA: L Sweetman; S MacDonnacha, T Costello, E Fogarty; P Whelan, G Doddrill, A Costello; C Turner, P Turner; N Paget, G McAuley, G O'Reilly; E Dillon, C Browne, R Curley. Subs: S Costello for Paget (ht), D Dougan for Fogarty (43), S Kelly for McAuley (59).
REF: Gearóid McGrath (Setanta).