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Naomh Mearnóg 0-16 Ballyboden St Enda's 1-8
Naomh Mearnóg advanced to the quarter-finals of the Dublin Intermediate Hurling Championship when comfortably accounting for Ballyboden St Enda's by five points in their Group 2 encounter at Páirc Uí Mhurchú last Saturday evening.
The winning margin was a fair reflection of the stranglehold that the visitors exerted for large parts of the game with their full-back line of Gar O'Driscoll, Neil O'Driscoll and John Owens stifling the 'Boden attack for the duration.
That the hosts managed just six scores from play over the hour in what were fairly idyllic conditions highlighted the excellence of the Nh Mearnóg defence throughout while the work ethic was maintained further up the field as they placed consistent pressure of the home defence.
The Portmarnock outfit's attack may have registered 13 wides over the duration but their greater spread of scorers, in which ten of their starting 15 scored from play, proved a telling statistic on the night.
After recording two wides in the opening two minutes, the visitors eventually took a deserved lead when Shane Ryan was afforded too much space in the third minute with the former Dublin dual intercounty star popping over from 35 metres.
John Earls doubled that advantage soon after as he availed of fine approach play from lively corner-forward Aidan Kenny and Nh Mearnóg were three points to the good after seven minutes as Killian Neylon split the posts after another free-flowing attack.
The complexion of the tie look to have turned inside the next four minutes however as Aidan Dundon opened up Ballyboden St Enda's account with a superb point in the 10th minute before Fionn Maguire capitalised on some hesitancy from Mearnóg goalkeeper Ronan Slevin to fire into the empty net for the game's only goal.
Far from building on this piece of opportunism, the hosts failed to score for the ensuing 20 minutes as Ryan enjoyed a marked advantage at midfield and Kenny restored parity in the 13th minute with a deserved score.
With a slight breeze at their backs, Nh Mearnóg dominated the second quarter as Brian McCarthy and Ryan added excellent scores to inch them two points clear and wing-back Michael O'Brien was next to find the target with a classy effort from the flank in the 23rd minute.
Andy Hand and goalkeeper Ronan Sharkey impressed as Ballyboden looked to limit the damage on the scoreboard but there was little they could do to prevent their opponents from enjoying a deserved 0-9 to 1-2 interval advantage following scores by centre-back Michael Donoghue and Ciarán Waters.
The second-half resumed in a similar fashion as the visitors enjoyed plenty of possession but two early wides and two balls that dropped short into the safe hands of Sharkey undermined their supremacy with St Enda's remaining in contention through successive scores by Niall O'Neill and Dundon.
That brief momentum for the hosts was stalled however as Ryan found space to free Waters for an excellent score and despite Colin Durkin replying for St Enda's, Mearnóg regained their three point lead as John Earls fired over in the 40th minute.
Dundon added another point for St Enda's as the half progressed but a second goal proved elusive against a resolute away defence as the seasiders pushed clear through a Neylon free and two crucial points from the increasingly influential Waters.
Substitute Garrett Crowley briefly reduced Ballyboden's arrears five minutes from time but the greater cohesion and interplay of the Na Mearnóg attack was apparent when full-forward Brendan Kennedy gained reward for an industrious display with a cracking score from wide on the right wing.
Patrick Reale's long-distance score on the hour mark helped confirm a deserved win with Durkin's late free offering minimal consolation to a Boden team that played second fiddle for the large part on a frustrating night for the hosts.
Scorers - Naomh Mearnóg: C Waters 0-4, S Ryan, K Neylon (1f), J Earls 0-2 each, M O'Brien, M Donoghue, P Reale, B McCarthy, A Kenny, B Kennedy 0-1 each. Ballyboden St Enda's: A Dundon 0-4 (2f), F Maguire 1-0, C Durkin (1f) 0-2, N O'Neill, G Crowley 0-1 each.
Naomh Mearnóg: R Slevin; G O'Driscoll, N O'Driscoll, J Owens; M O'Brien, M Donoghue, M Callanan; D Ryan, P Reale; J Earls, C Waters, B McCarthy; A Kenny, B Kennedy, K Neylon. Subs: B Shearman for Kenny (23).
Ballyboden St Enda's: R Sharkey; A Hand, C Ryan, R Cullen; D O'Sullivan, D Lennox, L McCarthy; R Cannon, C Durkin; A Dundon, C Flaherty, N Greene; N O'Neill, M O'Sullivan, F Maguire. Subs: O Cannon for R Cannon (26), G Crowley for M O'Sullivan (42), M O'Sullivan for Flaherty (58).
Mentors: Naomh Mearnóg: David Kennedy, Mattie Lennon, Cliodhna O'Connor, Andrew Rittweger, Tiernan Fahy.
Ballyboden St Enda's: John Small, Alan Ryan, John Ryan, Mick Glynn.
Referee: Declan Enright (Civil Service)
Wides: Naomh Mearnóg 13 (7+6) Ballyboden St Enda's 9 (4+5)
Conditions: A dry evening with a slight breeze.
Player of the Game: Neil O'Driscoll (Naomh Mearnóg)