St Mullins 1-19 Ferns St Aidans 1-17
By Kieran Murphy at Netwatch Cullen Park
St Mullins are Croke Park bound. On Sunday in Netwatch Cullen Park, the Carlow champions were deserving winners of this Leinster senior hurling club quarter-final. In what was most satisfying for them, they could rightly say they won a battle and the Ferns side could have no complaints.
Marty Kavanagh pushed the Carlow representatives in front with a point from play and a free but St Aidans hit back with a classic goal when Corey Byrne Dunbar went by his marker, picked out Paul Morris with a 20 metre pass and the full-forward gave Kevin Kehoe no chance with a rocket from the edge of the big square.
St Aidan’s added points through Diarmuid Doyle and Dunbar. St Mullins dug deep and led by Marty Kavanagh they powered ahead to lead by three points with eight minutes to go to half-time. Also on the mark was James Doyle, Jason O’Neill, Paidi O’Shea and Paddy Boland.
Jonny Dwyer, Chris Turner and Ian Byrne also pointed for the Wexford champions.
The home side almost stole in for two goals in the half but on each occasion, the St Aidans defence shut down John Doyle and Jason O’Neill who both looked certain to score at different stages.
At half-time, St Mullins, who had been wind assisted, led 0-12 to 1-6. They braced themselves for the inevitable fight-back and while it came, the Carlow side still kept their shape and composure.
Jonny Dwyer opened the scoring in the second half for the Model side with a point. Kavanagh replied with two successfully struck placed balls. Ian Byrne was deadly accurate with frees for St Aidans and any that were conceded were inevitably converted.
Then came the key moment midway through the second half as Conor Kehoe took a hand-pass from James Doyle, made ground and when in front of goal, his shot may have been only half-struck but it wrong-footed goalkeeper, James Lawlor and went over the line.
With six points in it, the inevitable fight-back duly arrived and with Byrne continuing to knock over the frees, the lead gradually came down. He could even have found the net but Kevin Kehoe did well to save from the midfielder and eventually cleared his lines.
Critically for the visitors they relied too heavily on Byrne. Benny Jordan did raise a white flag and with 63 minutes left on the clock, Kavanagh converted a free to push the St Mullins lead out to two.
The puck-out was vital. The Ferns St Aidan’s side secured possession but the St Mullins defence stood tall and strong to advance to the semi-final.
Scorers for St Mullins: Marty Kavanagh 0-12 (11fs), Conor Kehoe 1-0, James Doyle 0-3, Paddy Boland 0-2, Paidi O’Shea 0-1, Jason O’Neill 0-1.
Scorers for Ferns St Aidans: Ian Byrne 0-8 (fs), Paul Morris 1-1, Jonny Dwyer 0-3, Diarmuid Doyle 0-2, Chris Turner 0-1, Benny Jordan 0-1, Corey Byrne Dunbar 0-1.
Ferns St Aidans: James Lawlor; James Tonks, Niall Murphy, Conor Scallan; Patrick Breen, Eoin Murphy, Ciaran Roberts; Rory Scallan, Ian Byrne; Tommy Dwyer, Chris Turner, Corey Byrne Dunbar; Diarmuid Doyle, Paul Morris, Jonny Dwyer. Subs: Declan Byrne for Scallan (35), Benny Jordan for Turner (45), John Breen for Dwyer (53), Ryan Nolan for R Scallan (57) .
St Mullins: Kevin Kehoe; John Doran, Paul Doyle, Paudie Kehoe; Paidi O’Shea, Michael Walsh, Ger Coady; Jack Kavanagh, Conor Kehoe; James Doyle, Marty Kavanagh, Philip Connors; John Doyle, Jason O’Neill, Paddy Boland. Subs: Oisin Ryan for O’Neill (43)., Seamus Murphy for John Doyle (61)
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)