THE quest for eight-in-a-row remains on course for Sean McDermotts as they saw off the challenge of Naomh Padraig in Sunday’s second Senior Football Championship Semi-final at Páirc na hÉireann.
Two goals from Joe Owens and majors by Chris Hayden and Conal Dowling rounded off a comfortable afternoon’s work for the defending champions who will now play Casements in the final in just over a week’s time.
For Leicester, despite the score line there have been plenty of positives to take from this season as they improved on their 2020 performance by making the semi-finals this time around.
Despite finding themselves eight points down before registering their first point of the game, as the match wore on they not only improved but created some excellent scoring opportunities off quick ball.
However, they found themselves immediately a goal down when McDermotts raced through from the start where Joe Owens latched onto a through pass to tuck the ball beyond Anthony Gallagher.
Two points from Joel Powney (one free) and scores by James McDowell, Dowling and Andy Willis pushed them eight to the good before Rossa O’Donovan replied with a point at the other end.
A fine team move through the middle of the Leicester defence presented goal number two, this time Chris Hayden popping up from the right to place the ball into the net.
Gallagher produced two excellent saves to keep further goal opportunities at bay but McDermotts remained in firm control thanks to scores by Declan Staunton, Dowling and Niall Gilbride.
Leicester rallied in the closing stages of the half, O’Donovan finding Brady Doherty who drilled the ball beyond Macauley Felgate for his side’s opening goal.
A simple, direct passage of play created goal number three for the champions when a give-and-go between Owens and Dowling released the former to hit the net from close range.
Down at the other end Leicester grabbed a fine second goal converted by Cathal Noone but by this stage McDermotts were seeing out the contest and they grabbed one more goal through a neat Dowling finish.
There was still time for Gallagher to deny both Dowling and Powney with excellent saves, while Brian Rushe almost flicked home a third goal for Leicester only for his close-range effort to loop over the bar.
It was a double celebration for McDermotts who will be seeking to defend both their senior and junior titles, their juniors defeating St. Brendans in Sunday’s semi-final on a score of 1-16 to 1-03.
They will also face Roger Casements in the final after they were awarded a walkover from Naomh Padraig in their semi-final.
The Intermediate Football Championship Final will be contested by Erin go Bragh and St. Josephs after both clubs came through their semi-finals on Sunday, for EGB it was victory at The Sphinx over Four Masters by 2-14 to 2-08 while Derby saw off the challenge of St. Finbarrs in Leicester by 2-13 to 2-06.
All three county finals are currently scheduled for Sunday, September 19.
Sean McDermotts: M Felgate; D Munnelly, L Gilbride, J Rodgers; D Staunton (0-3), M Mannion, J Chapman; N Gilbride (0-1), A Willis (0-1); C Hayden (1-0), J McDowell (0-1), J Owens (2-0); C Folan (0-1), C Dowling (1-3), J Powney (0-8, 4f). Subs: D O’Brien (for Chapman 15); J Dowling (for Hayden 37); B Healy (0-1, for Owens 37).
Naomh Padraig: A Gallagher; J Lynch, J Ferrick, N Burke; J Callery, R Clarke, C Bownes; B Rushe (0-2), N Kelly; S Lundy, B Doherty (1-1), C Noone (1-0); J Doherty, R O’Donovan (0-1), C Boyd. Subs: R Flanagan (for Boyd 15); K Murphy (for Lynch 38); C Holland (0-1, 1f, for O’Donovan 50); D Britton (for Clarke 55).
Referee: JP Walsh