BALLINTEER ST JOHN'S 2-9
THOMAS DAVIS 0-13
Ballinteer St John's withstood a brave second-half comeback by 14-man Thomas Davis when prevailing by 2-9 to 0-13 in their Dublin U21 'A' Football Championship first round encounter at Kiltipper Road on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors appeared well set to replicate their 2012 U21 'B' final success over the same opponent when leading by eight points at the interval, but Davis showed admirable courage upon the restart to push John's until the final whistle.
St John's were justified winners, however, given the fluidity they showed in the opening half and their ability to create goal chances was ultimately the difference between sides.
It was a suitably cagey opening, with both sides errant at times, although Davey Byrne showed his attacking threat with a glorious point on the run to open the scoring in the third minute for the hosts.
Ballinteer's reply was immediate as Fearghal Duffy fed Seán Corcoran for a tidy point a minute later, before Chris Sallier restored the home advantage when converting a close-in free in the seventh minute.
The ebb and flow was maintained as Duffy delivered a sublime crossfield ball that enabled Sam Tully to level matters two minutes later, although Tully's afternoon was cut short soon after a recurrence of a shoulder injury.
Despite Byrne pushing the hosts a point clear at the end of the first quarter, Thomas Davis soon found themselves in arrears as Tully's replacement Shane McGreevy made an impact upon his introduction as he pounced for his side's opening goal in the 17th minute.
The origin of the score was a superb fetch in midfield by Peter O'Curry that enabled the Dublin U21 panellist to find McGreevy through on goal and, despite Darren Brennan working wonders in repelling the initial effort, the rangy substitute palmed the rebound home from close range.
The hosts responded briefly through an excellent Dean Brennan score, but the momentum was with St John's and they built on their lead through a brace of Duffy frees.
That advantage was increased in the 26th minute as Robbie Gaughan twisted and turned to telling effect, with his ensuing shot having too much accuracy for the sprawling Brennan as it nestled in the net.
The hosts were in danger of being overrun and, after Glenn Whelan had added to Ballinteer's lead, Davis were reduced to 14 men when defensive lynchpin Gavin Carruth was dismissed for a needless couple of bookings.
Trailing by 2-6 to 0-4 at the interval, the hosts' misery was almost complete when Aodhán Clabby was bundled over for a penalty, but Brennan kept the tie alive with a fine save from Whelan's spot kick, although Niall Dunphy scrambled a point from the ensuing passage of play.
That intervention appeared to galvanise the Kiltipper lads as they struck five successive points through Byrne, Dean Brennan, Mark Leigh and substitute Dara Kerr as they drove incessantly towards the St John's goal.
An O'Curry point in the 48th minute settled Ballinteer somewhat, with Duffy dropping deep to link play with his customary intelligence, but primary possession proved elusive as Adam Fallon, Naoise Condron and Ryan Deegan drove their side forward at every opportunity.
A sumptuous point from Ryan McGill three minutes later whittled Davis' deficit to just two points, but that was as close as they came as Whelan's free handed St John's sufficient wriggle room to stave off a late home rally.