Bench impact powers St Kevin's past Straffan in nervy group stage opener in IFC

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Bench impact powers St Kevin's past Straffan in nervy group stage opener in IFC
By Patrick Ward 20:35 Thursday 9th of August 2018

St Kevin’s 1-19

Straffan     2-8

Pittman Traffic & Safety IFC Group A round one

The impact of substitutes Declan Flaherty and Mark Grace from the bench helped St Kevin’s out of a sticky situation in the opening group game of the Intermediate Championship group stage on Thursday evening. The pair combined for 1-3 after being introduced when their side were trailing by three points, while Conor Murray’s contribution of seven points – six from play – was vital to their victory.

It was an entertaining and balanced affair in the first 10 minutes, with Straffan even edging the opening stages as they began quite well. Fionn Carr opened the scoring for them after a couple of minutes with a good point from a tight angle, before Rob Kelly carried the ball through a couple of hefty challenges to engineer space and hack over a point.

St Kevin’s got up and running through two players who starred for the Leinster Junior Championship winning Kildare side this year, as Barry Noone got them off the mark before Conor Murray went on a fine run and curled over his first of the night.

John Tracey replied for Straffan at the other end through a free, but St Kevin’s dominated after that as they got to grips in midfield and the probing runs from the half-backs began to hurt their opponents. A lung-busting break from Jamie Smyth yielded the levelling score, before a flowing move led to Ciaran Smyth popping them into the lead for the first time. Ross Carew and Ryan Casey added further scores, before Ciaran Smyth doubled his account with a close range effort.

Straffan missed a clutch of chances in the middle stages of the half, with Niall Gaynor’s attempt from point blank range that struck the bottom of the post being the most galling of those missed attempts. They did find the only goal of the half in the 20th minute however, coming through Anto Devane as he initially set up Tracey who fumbled the chance, though Devane was on hand to slide in the loose ball to the bottom corner.

St Kevin’s responded well as Murray and Johnnie Fitzharris lofted over points from play either side of a Noone free, giving them a four-point lead as half-time approached. Straffan needed scores badly before the interval, and they found a couple as Andy O’Neill and Tracey both hit the target to leave the scoreboard reading 0-10 to 1-5 at the break.

Straffan started the second in even better style than they began the first, plundering 1-2 without response as St Kevin’s wasted numerous opportunities at the other end. St Kevin’s kicked five wides in the first 10 minutes after the restart, failing to register a score as Straffan surged ahead. Carr and Tracey both raised with flags, before a brilliant move down the left wing saw wing-back Rory Byrne trade a one-two with Tracey before leathering home a powerful finish to the net.

St Kevin’s introduced Declan Flaherty and Mark Grace in a bid to wrestle back control, but it was Murray who continued to carry their major threat as he landed a brilliant score from distance. This was cancelled out by another point from Carr, but Kevin’s began to motor again as the game entered the final quarter and they fought back from three points down.

Flaherty stroked over a good point following a fine pass from Fogarty, before Murray added another couple of scores and Grace clipped over on the run to send Mark Fitzharris’ men into the lead with eight minutes to go.

They pressed for home after that as Noone landed a free and Grace slotted over another point before Flaherty slotted home a late goal that put the result beyond doubt.

Scorers for St Kevin’s: C Murray 0-7(1f), D Flaherty 1-1, B Noone 0-3(2f), M Grace and C Smyth 0-2 each, J Fitzharris, R Carew, R Casey and J Smyth 0-1 each.

Scorers for Straffan: F Carr and J Tracey (3f) 0-3 each, R Byrne and A Devane 1-0 each, R Kelly and A O’Neill 0-1 each.

St Kevin’s

Kieran Fitzharris; Alan Bennett, Tom Barron, Jason Brosnan; Jamie Smyth, Trevor McDonald, Brian Fogarty; Mick Kenny, Ciaran Smyth; Ross Carew, Ryan Casey, Cormac Noone; Conor Murray, Barry Noone, Johnnie Fitzharris.

Subs used: Mark Grace for C Noone 38mins, Declan Flaherty for Casey 43mins, Graham Beirne for Bennett 54mins, Cathal O’Leary for C Smyth 54mins, Jack Kenny for McDonald 55mins, Paddy Walshe for Carew 59mins.

Straffan

Matthew Duggan; Rory Byrne, Ronan Maguire, Alan Byrne; Andy O’Neill, Niall Devane, Brendan Ashe; Aaron Kiernan, Niall Gaynor; Fionn Carr, James Devane, John Tracey; Anto Devane, Rob Kelly, Francis Kelly.

Subs used: Thomas Julian for R Byrne 55mins, Thomas Julian for O’Neill 64mins.

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