Dual stars lift John's
Clabby and Whelan help sink Harps for semi-final
Ballinteer St John's advanced to the semi-finals following their impressive three-point win over a talented Skerries Harps at Ballinteer Community School last Tuesday night.
BALLINTEER ST JOHN'S 1-12 SKERRIES HARPS 1-9
Last year's 'B' winners overcame a sloppy second quarter to produce a spirited and calculated performance against the breeze after the break as they assumed complete control, resisting a late Harps rally.
That the contest remained in the balance until the final whistle was testimony to the wholehearted efforts and skill of both sides, with the large attendance treated to a superb encounter that ebbed and flowed throughout.
Central to the hosts' success was the nine points accumulated by dual players Glenn Whelan and Aodhán Clabby, with the latter's switch from midfield to the inside-forward line proving a masterstroke by the St John's management team.
The visitors settled well initially, with Harry Dawson converting a first-minute free, but Ballinteer gradually found their rhythm and were given a massive boost thanks to a superb individual goal by captain Fearghal Duffy five minutes later.
There seemed little danger as Duffy received possession 40 metres from goal, but a piercing run beyond a plethora of Harps defenders ensued, culminating in a clinical finish across Alan Cullinan from eight yards.
Duffy's influence manifested itself in an instant as he showed trademark vision when picking out Whelan, who boomed a long-distance point with the aid of a generous breeze at his back. Although Eoin Smith dropped back into the sweeper role to telling effect, he was powerless to prevent Duffy from inching in from the touchline before curling a precise shot between the sticks to leave four points between the sides.
However, the momentum that St John's enjoyed was punctured at the end of the first quarter as a point attempt from Dawson led to Keith Piggott making an uncharacteristic error as the ball slipped from his grasp into the unguarded net.
With Mark Boylan and Eoghan McGinley gaining the upper hand at centrefield, Skerries displayed their potential for the next 10 minutes as they dominated possession, with Smith, Dylan McNamee and Jack Smith making telling interventions.
Their patient build-up against the wind yielded a brace of sublime team scores from Paul Cashman and further points by Dawson and McGinley left the visitors deservedly ahead by three points in the 23rd minute.
Critically, St John's responded for the remainder of the half, with David Deveraux making telling incisions from corner-back, and three successive points by Whelan left the sides deadlocked at 1-5 apiece by the interval.
Clabby restored Ballinteer's lead within 30 seconds of the restart after a well-worked move and, although Denis Forde and Shane Hickey responded in kind for Skerries, the fluency of their opening-half display was markedly absent from that point.
Peter O'Curry and Robbie Gaughan began to drive St John's on with increasing fervour, and two points from Whelan preceded a further score by Clabby as the hosts reflected their supremacy on the scoreboard.
Despite Hickey and Dawson whittling their side's arrears to the bare minimum with five minutes left, Ballinteer showed sufficient composure to confirm their semi-final berth through late scores by O'Curry and Clabby.