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Kellys click to see off St Benildus

A 56th-minute goal from Michael Kelly helped Ardscoil na Trionoide, Athy, account for St Benildus by four points in a lively tie at Belfield yesterday.

Kelly was put clear on goal by his namesake, Niall's sublime pass and his clinical finish across Stephen Murtagh helped the visitors complete an impressive comeback after a lethargic first-half showing.

That Benildus remained in contention for so long was largely down to the threat posed by Shane Cunningham, with the corner-forward accounting for 1-5 of his side's tally on a day when the remaining forwards failed to score from play.

It was the hosts who enjoyed the livelier opening, with Cunningham serving early notice of his intentions with a glorious third-minute point and the same player was fouled by Tadhg Foley for a fifth-minute penalty, converted calmly by Paul Connolly.

Niall Kelly responded for Athy with a classy point and a free from John Merrins in the 10th minute left just two points between the sides before Cunningham stamped his class on proceedings with a brilliant solo goal at the end of the first quarter to open up a five-point lead for the Kilmacud school.

Cunningham added another point soon after, but it proved to be their final score of the half, with two frees from Niall Kelly and another placed ball by Merrins leaving Athy just three points in arrears at the interval.

A point from Cunningham within 50 seconds of the restart pushed Benildus further ahead, but, driven on by midfielder David Hyland, Ardscoil gradually came to grips with their opponents with a succession of points from David O'Toole, Niall Kelly, Sean Ronan and Michael Kelly closing the gap to the bare minimum.

David Byrne lifted the hosts with two excellent solo scores, but the momentum was with Athy at this stage with two points from Hyland preceding Kelly's goal as Athy finished strongly to book their place in the second round.

Scorers -- Ardscoil na Trionoide: N Kelly 0-5 (4f), M Kelly 1-1, J Merrins (2f), D Hyland, D O'Toole 0-2, S Ronan, A Farrell 0-1 each. St Benildus: S Cunningham 1-5 (1f), P Connolly 1-0 (pen), D Byrne 0-2.

ARDSCOIL NA TRIONOIDE -- S Conway; M Behan, K Mulhall, T Foley; T May, J Merrins, L Doyle; P Connell, D Hyland; S Ronan, A Farrell, P Keogh; M Kelly, D O'Toole, N Kelly. Subs: S McGovern for Behan (42).

ST BENILDUS -- S Murtagh; A Kennedy, C Dolan, E Murphy; S Corcoran, R McGowan, S Mulvaney; D Butler, D Byrne; E Coffey, B Reilly, N Hanley; P Connolly, B Horan, S Cunningham. Subs: C Conway for Reilly (44), S Bedford for Connolly (56).

Ref -- A Nolan (Wicklow).

Irish Independent