St Loman’s (Westmeath) 1-10 Naas (Kildare) 1-15
A star turn from Darragh Kirwan inspired Naas to a hard-earned win over St Loman’s in Mullingar, thereby qualifying the Kildare champions for a Leinster senior club final slot against holders Kilmacud Crokes in two weeks’ time.
The heavy pre-match drizzle had just come to an end prior to the throw-in, but conditions were, understandably, still tricky for football. The home team had the aid of a useful wind in the first half and they were two points to the good after four minutes courtesy of a John Heslin free and a great score from play by Shane Dempsey.
However, Joe Murphy’s charges responded with three unanswered points from the boots of Kirwan (two, the second from a free) and Alex Beirne (a free). Peter Foy’s well-taken point (via Luke Mullins’ fingertips) in the 13th minute left the sides tied at 0-03 apiece at the end of the opening quarter.
Another Beirne free and a fine score by the ever-dangerous Kirwan nudged the Kildare champions ahead, but Loman’s replied with three good points via Kevin Regan, Danny McCartan (a mark), and a fabulous shot by Dempsey.
Kirwan equalised before Ronan O’Toole teed up Dempsey for a superb goal in the 24th minute. Danny McCartan added a fisted point, and Mullins then had to come to Naas’ rescue with an instinctive save from a palmed effort by Sam McCartan (at the end of a great delivery by O’Toole). Dermot Hanafin’s 29th-minute point left the visitors trailing by 1-07 to 0-07 at the interval.
Heslin slotted over a free in the opening minute of the second half. Beirne (a great solo point) and Heslin (another free) traded points, but the latter score in the 39th minute proved to be the last addition to the scoreboard in regulation time for Paddy Dowdall’s troops as wind-assisted Naas began to dominate in most lines of the pitch.
They added four points to their tally courtesy of Jack McKevitt (a great score under pressure), sub Eamonn Callaghan (a free), Kirwan (at the end of a patient move), and goalkeeper Mullins (a ’45’ after Kirwan was denied a goal by Jason Daly’s outstretched legs in the 54th minute).
Naas had a last-gasp chance to win the day, but Kevin Cummins’ difficult free in the seventh and last minute of added-time was well wide of the target.
Kirwan scored a wonderful goal in the third minute of injury-time after fetching a probing delivery by Beirne. The same player added a great point from an acute angle. Heslin scored his team’s first point in 38 minutes with a free in injury-time, leaving Naas ahead by 1-13 to 1-10 at the interval in extra-time.
In the second period of added-time, Kirwan fisted a point and sub Tom Browne kicked a neat point from play, while the Westmeath champions failed to add to their tally, with Heslin off target from two tricky frees and a brace of late ‘45’s by Sam McCartan coming to nothing.
Naas: L Mullins (0-01, ‘45’); C Daly, B Byrne, M Maguire; Paddy McDermott, E Doyle, E Prizeman; Paul McDermott, J Burke; A Beirne (0-03, 0-02f), C McCarthy, J McKevitt (0-01); D Kirwan (1-07, 0-01f), D Hanafin (0-01), S Hanafin.
Subs: E Callaghan (0-01, f) for D Hanafin (44), K Cummins for Paul McDermott (44), N Aherne for Kirwan (blood, 56-58), T Browne (0-01) for Prizeman (e/t, 2), B Kane for Doyle (inj., e/t, 9), S Cullen for Kirwan (inj., e/t, 20).
St Loman’s, Mullingar: J Daly; E Hogan, D O’Keeffe, O Hogan; J Geoghegan, D Whelan, E Gaffney; S Flanagan, J Heslin (0-04, 0-04f); P Foy (0-01), S McCartan, K Regan (0-01); D McCartan (0-02, 0-01m), R O’Toole, S Dempsey (1-02).
Subs: K Reilly for Whelan (inj., 37), TJ Cox for Flanagan (46), F Ayorinde for Regan (51), T Graham for Foy (58), P Foy for Graham (e/t, 14).
Referee: David Gough (Meath).