Goals from Donal Begley and Eamonn Agnew saw the Malachis across the finish line at the expense of St Nicholas and into the Junior Football Championship quarter-finals for a second successive year.
With both sides struggling in their respective league campaigns there was added pressure to get a result following opening day losses at the hands of Glyde Rangers. Noel Donaldson got the scoreboard up-and-running inside the first 60 seconds before Philip Kirwan levelled matters in the 8th minute in a mistake-ridden opening. Although Padraig Moley regained the lead for the Mals, the border outfit had to thank their net minder, Ronan Lynch, for a super save to deny Eddie Carr the opening goal. Jason O’Boyle pointed soon after before Kirwan put the Drogheda side into the lead by the 18th minute. The impressive O’Boyle extended this lead further before a trademark run from Ronan Greene reduced the arrears to the solitary point. Moley drew the sides level soon after before O’Boyle edged his side in front in the 25th minute. Entering the closing stages of the half, Mals wing back Donal Begley found space in the Nick’s defence and finished past Vincent O’Hare for the only goal of the opening half.
Half-Time: Naomh Malachi 1-4 St Nicholas 0-5
Conor Gonnelly opened the scoring after the interval with a fine point for the Courtbane outfit before John Heeney’s first score retained the status quo. The sides traded points through Donaldson and Kirwan before the Mals seized the initiative. The impressive Donaldson pointed for the third time, before Shane Rogers and Pierce Caherty extended their lead further. The crucial score arrived in the 54th minute when Eamonn Agnew blasted past O’Hare to effectively end the contest. Although O’Boyle claimed a late brace of scores and Conor Brannigan grabbed his side’s tenth point, veteran Ronan McElroy had the last say to ensure the Mals advance to the quarter-finals at their opponents expense.
Full-Time: Naomh Malachi 2-10 St Nicholas 0-10
Naomh Malachi: Ronan Lynch; David Begley, David Rogers, Conor Gonnelly (0-1); Sean Gogarty, Ronan Greene (0-1), Donal Begley (1-0); Padraig Moley (0-2), Pierce Caherty (0-1); Jamie Kelly, Ronan McElroy (0-1), Noel Donaldson (0-3); Colin Hoey, Shane Rogers (0-1), Francis McArdle.
Subs: Eamonn Agnew (1-0) for Hoey (b/c).
St Nicholas: Vincent O’Hare; Jack Downey, Brian Carter, Kieran Floyd; Kieran Brannigan, Darren Thornton, Alan Gregory; Johnny Carter, Declan Heeney; Jason O’Boyle (0-5), Roy Kieran, Philip Kirwan (0-3 1fk, 1 45’); Stephen Hodgins, Eddie Carr, John Heeney (0-1).
Subs: Conor Brannigan (0-1) for Gregory (inj).