Northern Switchgear SFC Group 3
Naomh Éanna 1-14 – 1-10 Lámh Dhearg
Kevin Herron reports from Hightown
Photos by J.J Lawell
Naomh Éanna got their Championship campaign off and running on Sunday afternoon with a 1-14-1-10 win over a weary Lámh Dhearg side at Hightown.
Having saw their opening game fall by the wayside on Wednesday evening there was a freshness about Carl McCabe’s charges who hit the opening goal courtesy of Kristian Healy and held a five-point advantage at the midway point.
Lámh Dhearg did coming swinging back early in the second period with a Declan Lynch goal reigniting the fire of the Hannahstown side who would eventually draw level going down the home straight.
But the hosts registered the last four points unanswered to make it a winning start to the Group stage.
Lámh Dhearg were first off the mark at Hightown through a converted Paddy Cunningham free, but it was wiped out instantly as Eoin Nagle collected a kick-out from Paddy Flood and burst forward before picking off the equaliser.
The hosts nudged ahead after Kristian Healy was able to easily cut into a shooting position and steer a shot between the posts and on 12 minutes the opening goal arrived.
Odhran Eastwood carried the ball forward and gave a pop pass to Peter Healy who slipped the ball wide to namesake Kristian- whose fierce shot crashed into the net to give his side a 1-02-0-01 lead.
At the other end Ryan Diamond fisted the ball across the face of goal but Declan Smyth was unable to palm the ball home and the visitors were forced to settle for a Marc Jordan point instead.
Naomh Éanna replied before the first half water-break was called with Healy on-hand to notch up his third score of the afternoon after a patient build-up and Ciaran Thompson playing a simple pass off the shoulder.
Odhran Eastwood converted back-to-back frees in quick succession, a few minutes after the games resumption with Paddy Cunningham replying with one of his own at the other end.
Cunningham kicked his first from play in the aftermath after an offload from Terry McCrudden, but the hosts would find themselves in a commanding and deserved five-point lead at the interval after Odhran Eastwood made a simple conversion from a free in front of the posts to leave it 1-06-0-04.
Lámh Dhearg were in need of a quick start to the second half and they got just that. Pearse Fitzsimons broke the ball into the path of Declan Lynch who charged up field with a goal on his mind, he advanced into the area and his driven shot took a deflection of Michael McNamee and hit the net to make it 1-06-1-04.
Eoin Matassa then claimed the resulting kick-out and slipped the ball to Paddy Cunningham who swung over a point to make it a one-point game just 60-seconds into the half.
The chance to level arrived through a free in front of the posts but Paddy Cunningham was adjudged to have sent his free wide of the posts and Cormac Scott took advantage at the other end after an offload from namesake Ruairi.
Scott’s score settled the hosts after conceding the early blows with Odhran Eastwood following up with a free and Michael Morgan swinging one over the bar from another Ruairi Scott assist.
Conor McAuley kicked a fine point to restore the five-point lead his side held at the break with Ryan Murray replying at the other end after a piercing Declan Lynch run that found Ryan Diamond with an offload to Murray resulting in the score.
Ben Rice and Michael Hynds were introduced to attempt to turn the tide and Paddy Cunningham kicked his third free of the afternoon to narrow the deficit to three (1-10-1-07).
Ryan Murray swung over a terrific point for his second of the half and a further point from substitute Rice made it a one-point game for the second time in the half.
The opportunity of a leveller again passed the visitors by when Paddy Cunningham went short to Conor Murray and he guided his shot wide of the target with Ben Rice dragging a further chance wide of the post.
But with 10 minutes remaining a drag back on Terry McCrudden allowed Cunningham the chance to level and he did just that to make it 1-10 apiece.
Naomh Éanna got their noses back in front through a Cormac Scott point and it was a lead they would hold for the concluding minutes.
Paddy Cunningham saw a further free drift wide in the aftermath and the hosts took advantage with Eastwood converting his fifth of the afternoon shortly after.
Kristian Healy conjured up his third point of the afternoon and the insurance score arrived in the form of another composed free from Odhran Eastwood.
Lámh Dhearg were unable to muster a response as Naomh Éanna grabbed a deserved win to give themselves to perfect start to the Championship and ensure a three-way cluster at the top of the Group 3 table.
Naomh Éanna: P Flood, F Eastwood, M McNamee, C Lyttle, C McAuley (0-01), P Healy, N Heatley, M Morgan (0-01), K Healy (1-03), C Thompson, E Nagle (0-01), C Maxwell, C Scott (0-02), R Scott, O Eastwood (0-06f). Subs: F Nagle for M Morgan (50), P Curran for C Scott (58).
Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, R Murray, A McAufield, P Larkin, D Lynch (1-00), P Mervyn, M Jordan (0-01), D Smyth, P Fitzsimons, R Murray (0-02), C Murray, R Diamond, P Cunningham (0-06, 0-04f), T McCrudden, E Matassa. Subs: B Rice (0-01) for D Smyth (40), M Hynds for R Diamond (40), M McGarry for M Hynds (56).
Referee: Conall Roberts (St Johns)