Naomh Malachi set up a showdown with Stabannon Parnells following an emphatic victory over St Nicholas on Friday night in Louth Village. Pierce Caherty, making his first start in five months following a serious hamstring injury, was tormentor-in- chief finishing with 3-1 and helped claim the Courtbane sides first championship win in the group stages since 2009.
A dominant first half performance set the Malachis on the way to the victory, and they got off to the best possible start when Caherty claimed his first goal in the 2nd minute. Richie O’Brien opened his side’s account in the 5th minute but this would be their solitary score of the half as the border side dominated proceedings. Caherty grabbed his second goal in the 7th minute when he rose highest to claim a high ball into the small square before finishing emphatically past the hapless Jason Kierans. Colin Rooney was instrumental in the Malachis first half performance and was aided on the scoresheet by fellow forwards, Caherty, Kieran Hughes, Tiernan Gonnelly, and Noel Donaldson. While Hughes, Rooney, and Gonnelly kept the scoreboard ticking over, Ronan Greene and Padraig Moley got in on the act as the Mals onslaught showed no sign of abating. With half-time approaching Rooney set up Caherty for his hat trick and the full forward duly obliged flicking the ball into an empty net.
Half-Time: Naomh Malachi 3-14 St Nicholas 0-1
The second half was much closer as a contest as the Drogheda side improved. Eddie Carr was to the fore and claimed their second score, and although Rooney, Moley, and Jamie Kelly responded, O’Brien, Carr, and Brian Kierans did likewise. A fisted effort from Rooney was just reward for a fine individual run but Carr claimed an equally impressive point off his left side as the contest evened out. Rooney and John Heeney traded points as the game entered the last ten minutes before substitute Eamonn Agnew grabbed the Mals’ fourth goal finishing past Kierans with a low left footed drive. Jason O’Boyle grabbed his side’s eighth point, but Moley had the last say with an outstanding effort from the sideline as the Courtbane outfit ran out comfortable winners and set up an encounter with the men from Stabannon.
Full-Time: Naomh Malachi 4-20 St Nicholas 0-8
NAOMH MALACHI: Liam McCann; David Begley, David Rogers, Conor Gonnelly; Donal Begley, Peter McShane, Ronan Greene (0-1); Ronan McElroy, Padraig Moley (0-3); Kieran Hughes (0-2), Colin Rooney (0-8 1f), Noel Donaldson (0-1); Jamie Kelly (0-1), Pierce Caherty (3-1), Tiernan Gonnelly (0-3 1f).
Subs: Shane Roddy for McShane (inj) (11’), Eamonn Agnew (1-0) for Caherty (40’), Sean Gogarty for Rooney (48’).
ST NICHOLAS: Jason Kierans; Jack Downey, Darren Thornton, Damien Fagan; Jamie Brannigan, Declan Heeney, Ciaran O’Brien; Eddie Carr (0-3), Jason Maguire; Keith McCluskey, Brian Kierans (0-1), Sean Donnelly; Dean Smith, John Heeney (0-1), Richie O’Brien (0-2).
Subs: Jason O’Boyle (0-1) for Brannigan (34’).