Homefit ACFL Division One
St Johns 0-13-1-08 Lámh Dhearg
Kevin Herron reports from Corrigan Park
St Johns withstood a late fightback from Lámh Dhearg to make it four wins on the spin with a 0-13-1-08 win at Corrigan Park on Wednesday evening.
The hosts were in cruise control in the opening half with Paddy McBride claiming six of his sides eight first half scores that saw them 0-08-0-01 ahead.
Lámh Dhearg improved slightly in the second period and Paddy Cunningham pulled his side back in contention with six-points and a late goal that made it a nervy finish- that in the end the Johnnies saw out.
Both sides were missing key players for the second post-split clash on the Whiterock Road.
St Johns hit the front early-on through points from Ross Hannigan and a converted Paddy McBride free.
Conor Murray swung over a marvellous reply at the other end, but it was to be his sides only score of a first period that would become largely one-sided.
The Johnnies could have had an early goal, though Conor Hand dragged a shot wide of the target and at the other end Bam Neeson parried a shot from Conor Murray- after Marc Jordan slipped him in for a goal chance.
Paddy McBride kicked his first point from play after a pop off from Conor Hand and then dropped another effort over the bar to give his side a 0-04-0-01 lead.
McBride was in confident form and kicked another two back-to-back points from play, before converting his second free of the evening.
Just before the break Conor Johnston marked his return to club action with a straightforward conversion in front of the posts to give the hosts a 0-08-0-01 lead at the midway point.
Lámh Dhearg required a fast start to the second period if they had any aspirations of coming back into proceedings.
But they suffered a further set-back when Declan Smith was shown a black-card and they were a man down for 10 minutes.
Conor Murray did reduce the deficit from a quickly taken free- however Luke Pedan dropped a shot over the bar in response.
The hosts were perhaps fortunate not to be reduced to 14-men temporarily when Bam Neeson caught Ross Murray with his foot in attempting to cut-out a dangerous opportunity and was booked instead.
Neeson parried the resulting free from Paddy Cunningham on two occasions and after another offence was spotted, Cunningham eventually opted for a point at the third time of asking,
The corner-forward swept over his first from play after Conor Murray and Aaron McAufield combined.
But St Johns hit back-to-back scores themselves through an angled Laughlin McCurdy effort and a Conal McGlade point in the aftermath.
Paddy Cunningham reduced the deficit again with a second converted free of the evening, only for Conor Hand to cancel it out with a point at the other end.
Back-to-back Cunningham points from either side and a third converted free made it a four-point game (0-12-0-08) with minutes remaining.
Paddy McBride hit his seventh point of the evening with a late free and It looked as though the hosts would run out five-point winners, though two minutes into injury-time a grandstand finish materialised.
Stephen Tully got on the end of Bam Neeson’s kick-out and he floated in a high ball that Conor Murray palmed into the path of Declan Dunne, the substitute weighed up his options and picked out Cunningham to side foot and make it 0-13-1-08.
The Hannahstown side turned over the kick-out and pushed for a winning score, though St Johns held firm and made it four league wins on the spin and in the process inflicted back-to-back defeats on Lámh Dhearg.
St Johns: B Neeson, C McEvoy, P Nugent, L Pedan (0-01), R Hannigan (0-01), C Johnston, A McGowan, S McDonagh, R McNulty, P McBride (0-08, 0-03f), C Johnston (0-01), C Hand (0-01), L McCurdy (0-01), C McGlade (0-01), C Quinn (0-01). Subs: C Adams for L McCurdy (52), L Boyd for C Hand (58).
Lámh Dhearg: M McIlvenny, F Mervyn, M McGarry, R Murray, D Smith, P Mervyn, M Hynes, C Hannan, M Jordan, S McManus, S Tully, C Maxwell, P Cunningham (1-06, 0-03f), C Murray (0-02, 0-01f), N McGarry. Subs: A McAufield for S McManus (8), D Dunne for C Maxwell (45), P Larkin for M Hynes (49), A Byrne for C Hannan (49), K Fay-Kelly for N McGarry (53).
Referee: Sean Laverty (St Ergnat’s, Moneyglass)