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Early McEntee strike proves crucial for classy St Pat's

COLM O'ROURKE'S St Pat's Navan saw off the determined challenge of Good Counsel New Ross in a cracking tie at Dr Cullen Park yesterday.

The Meath lads held an edge over their opponents, particularly in the slick manner of their build-up play and the intelligent taking of their scores. All six starting forwards were on the mark for the winners.

A fourth-minute goal from right corner-forward Fiacra McEntee -- nephew of Meath legend Gerry -- provided St Pat's with the ideal start. But while O'Rourke's lads led throughout the game, they were never able to put away the Wexford side's stubborn challenge.

A second goal just before half-time from full-forward Shane Gillespie saw St Pat's go 2-3 to 0-5 ahead at the break. However, a splendid Counsel goal from substitute Donagh Doyle on 40 minutes cut the deficit to the minimum (2-6 to 1-8).

Yet St Pat's were always able to lift themselves for a score and with Darragh Maguire, Conor Sheridan, Alan Forde, Shane Barry and Shane Gillespie outstanding, they emerged worthy winners. St Pat's have previously claimed the Hogan Cup on three occasions -- 2000, 2001 and 2004.

David Crowdle, Garrett Foley and Darren Foley stood out for a battling Good Counsel, the 1999 All-Ireland 'A' champions.

Scorers -- St Pat's, Navan: S Gillespie 1-2 (0-1f), S Barry 0-3 (1f), F McEntee 1-0, C Fitzpatrick, P Fox 0-2 each, F Ross, A Forde 0-1 each. Good Counsel: D Foley 0-3, D Doyle 1-0, J. Tubritt, M O'Hanlon (1f), G Cullen (1f) 0-2 each, D Larkin (1f), G Foley 0-1 each.

St Pat's -- C Flynn; C McConnell, C Finnegan, B Dillon; N Groome, D Maguire, C Wickham; C Noonan, C Sheridan; F Ross, A Forde, P Fox; F McEntee, S Gillespie, S Barry. Subs: C Fitzpatrick for Noonan (h/t); M Fitzpatrick for McEntee (52).

Good Counsel -- K Burke; M Doyle, D Crowdle, C Foran; G Foley, A Nolan, M Cody; M O'Hanlon, S O'Gorman; J Tubritt, B Furlong, D Foley; D Larkin, M Curtis, G Cullen. Subs: D Doyle for Curtis (25); C Butler for Furlong; C Hickey for Foley (58); N Colfer for Tubritt (injured) (59).

Ref -- P Kehoe (Carlow).

Irish Independent