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St Finbarr's book first Munster senior final place since 1986 as they hold off Clare's Éire Óg

They’ll take on Austin Stacks in the decider in January.

St Finbarr’s (Cork) 2-14

Éire Óg Ennis (Clare) 0-12

SOME EARLY CHRISTMAS cheer for St Finbarr’s as a Munster senior football final spot awaits, their first since 1986.

conor-mccrickard Conor McCrickard hit two goals for St Finbarr's. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

An accomplished display propelled them past Clare champions Éire Óg this afternoon, two opportune goals in the first half establishing the platform for victory for the Cork kingpins.

They survived a powerful second-half onslaught from Éire Óg Ennis, who cut the deficit to four points at one stage, but with Steven Sherlock in a brilliant point-taking mood, he hit nine over the course of the game, they were good value for their eventual success.

Conor McCrickard, the Down native who joined the St Finbarr’s ranks this season, hit the two goals in the first half, while Cillian Myers-Murray sparkled with three fine points from play. Captain Ian Maguire was typically dominant at midfield with Billy Hennessy, Colm Scully and Sam Ryan anchoring a strong defensive effort.

cillian-myers-murray-celebrates-scoring-a-point Cillian Myers-Murray hit 0-3 for St Finbarr's. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

It was a feisty encounter with four black cards handed out, two for each side, while Éire Óg’s towering midfielder Darren O’Neill was sent-off late on for a second bookable offence. David Reidy and Maguire both spent time in the sin bin in the first half, with Ikem Ugwueru and Jamie Burns similarly penalised in the second half.

Éire Óg Ennis started brightly by posting the game’s opening two points and enjoyed a strong phase during the second half. They were in arrears 2-9 to 0-6 in the 35th minute but knocked over six of the game’s next seven points to only trail by four by the 50th minute. Ciarán Russell and Conall Ó hAiniféin were terrific during this period in powering their side with runs from deep. 

ciaran-russell Éire Óg and Clare footballer Ciaran Russell. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Gavin Cooney and Mark McInerney threatened in bursts close to goal but the St Finbarr’s defence quelled the Éire Óg momentum by holding them scoreless in the closing stages and Sherlock hit the last four points of the game, including two brilliant frees from acute angles on the left wing.

The damage was done early on by St Finbarr’s, the first half defined by a pair of well-taken goals by McCrickard. Those strikes in the 14th and 27th minutes succeeded in putting serious daylight between the teams at the interval.

The opening goal was engineered by the alertness of Sherlock, a chance to tap over point from a straightforward free was turned down and instead he clipped a pass into McCrickard, unperturbed in space near goal.

The finish to the net was clinical, as was the second when he caught a floated delivery from Colin Lyons after ghosting in behind the Éire Óg cover, side-stepped netminder Nathan Murray and raised his second green flag.

The timing of those goals was critical from a St Finbarr’s viewpoint. The first came just before the water break as they edged ahead 1-2 to 0-3 by that juncture. The second arrived moments before Maguire rejoined the fray after his ten minutes in the sin bin. His loss appeared a major setback in the 20th minute, but from there to the interval, St Finbarr’s outscored their opponents 1-4 to 0-1.

It was a crucial spell of control, the second McCrickard goal augmented by quality points from play by Myers-Murray, Denis O’Brien and Sherlock.

Nine points was a sizeable gap to exist by the interval and while Éire Óg made a decent effort at wiping it out, it proved insurmountable. St Finbarr’s can look forward to a Munster final date with Austin Stacks, where they will hope Cork U20 star Brian Hayes will be back in harness after an injury ruled him out here.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: Stephen Sherlock 0-9 (0-6f, 0-1 mark), Conor McCrickard 2-1, Cillian Myers-Murray 0-3, Denis O’Brien 0-1.

Scorers for Éire Óg: Gavin Cooney 0-4 (0-2f), Mark McInerney 0-3, Conal Ó hAiniféin 0-2, Darren O’Neill, Eimhin Courtney, Philip Talty 0-1 each.

St Finbarr’s

1. John Kerins

6. Billy Hennessy, 4. Sam Ryan, 7. Alan O’Connor

5. Colin Lyons, 3. Jamie Burns, 2. Colm Scully

8. Ian Maguire, 9. Eoin Comyns

10. Denis O’Brien, 21. Michael Shields, 15. Enda Dennehy

14. Steven Sherlock, 11. Conor McCrickard, 23. Cillian Myers-Murray

Subs

13. Eoin McGreevey for Shields (41)

17. Bill O’Connell for Dennehy (47)

18. Adam Lyne for O’Brien (47)

22. Luke Hannigan for Lyons (53)

12. Cian Walsh for Myers-Murray (60)

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Éire Óg Ennis

1. Nathan Murray

4. Ronan Lanigan, 3. Aaron Fitzgerald, 2. Manus Doherty

7. Ciaran Russell, 6. Conall Ó hAiniféin, 5. Einne O’Connor

8. Darren O’Neill, 9. David McNamara

12. Niall McMahon, 20. David Reidy, 10. Aidan McGrath

15. Mark McInerney, 14. Gavin Cooney (captain), 13. Philip Talty

Subs

11. Ikem Ugwueru for McGrath (25)

19. Dara Walsh for Reidy (39)

17. Eimhin Courtney for McMahon (43)

27. Darren O’Brien for Talty (60)

18. Tadhg Connellan for McInerney (60)

Referee: Brendan Griffin (Kerry)

BTL 5

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Páirc Uí Rinn

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