Anchor Tours SFC
Naomh Mairtin got in some early practice in the kind of inclement weather October is bound to send our way, but the champs learned precious little else about themselves or their mission to retain Joe Ward in a painfully one-sided clash in Dunleer on Sunday evening.
After pulling through a testing opener against Dreadnots, the holders were expected to make short work of Geraldines en route to the quarter-finals, but the nature of the drubbing must have taken even the most optimistic of Jock’s fans by surprise, not to mention their Geraldines’ counterparts.
It was boys in green against men in blue from the start, as Fergal Reel’s side played the game at a pace and tempo Geraldines simply couldn’t live with.
A gale force wind certainly helped, but Naomh Mairtin were on top in virtually every position on the pitch as they built up a 1-12 to no score half-time lead.
They were three up inside three minutes and had seven on the board before Geraldines managed their first meaningful shot at the target, a Shane O’Hanlon wide.
The only surprise was that Sean McEneaney’s goal stayed intact for so long, but no prizes for guessing who eventually breached it after 28 minutes – a neat, low finish by their Louth talisman, Sam Mulroy.
If Fergal Reel wanted to pick holes in a stellar performance, it might be that his side weren’t quite as ruthless in front of goal as he might have wished in that opening half, but they certainly made amends in the second period.
The gale force wind made way for a full-on downpour after the break, denying Geraldines the opportunity to play with the breeze on their backs, but it was a moot point at that stage anyway.
They introduced a few experienced heads to try and steady the ship as Conor Raffety, Michael Rogers and James Craven emerged after the interval and Paddy Hoey came on later in the half.
Rafferty and Rogers both got on the scoresheet, but the Gers only starter to register a score was Shane O’Hanlon and that was from a soft-looking free. In fact, the Haggradstown outfit managed just one point from open play over the hour, albeit a superb effort from Rogers.
By the mid-point of the second period, Geraldines seemed to be limiting the damage as the sides traded three points apiece, but the ceasefire didn’t last long as the Jocks blasted in three goals in quick succession.
Conor Whelan teed up John Clutterbuck up for the first and rattled in two himself soon afterwards to open a 24-point lead.
So the champs march on and on the evidence of their two group stage performances as a whole, and the patchy form of their main rivals, they are still very much the team to beat. They will certainly be hot favourites next Sunday against St Joseph’s.
Geraldines have an extra week to prepare for their relegation battle, with both morale and performance levels in need of a lift.
Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Mick Fanning, Thomas Sullivan, Conor Healy; John Clutterbuck 1-0, Sean Healy 0-2, Conor Morgan 0-1; Wayne Campbell, Evan Whelan; Jack Murphy, Eoghan Callaghan, Stephen Campbell 0-2; Conor Whelan 2-4 (2f), Sam Mulroy 1-5 (2f), JP Rooney 0-1mk. Subs: Val Leddy 0-1 for JP Rooney (36), Connor Smyth for S Healy (50), Joe McGrane for S Mulroy (51), Cian Sands for J Murphy (51).
Geraldines: Sean McEneaney; Paul Clarke, Dan Corcoran, Nicky Mackin; Jack Traynor, Gareth Neacy, Fergal McDonald; Ben Mooney, Matt Corcoran; Shane O’Hanlon 0-1f, Josh Arrowsmith, Brian Cafferty; Neil Jones, Shaun Callan, Stephen Reidy. Subs: Conor Rafferty 0-1f for B Cafferty (ht), Michael Rogers 0-2 (1’45’) for S Callan (ht), James Craven for Neil Jones (ht), Patrick Hoey for B Mooney (50).
Referee: Paul Kneel.