Knockbeg booked their place in the quarter-final of the Leinster Colleges SFC ‘A’ last Wednesday afternoon, as they easily accounted for St Joseph’s of Rochfortbridge in Dr Cullen Park.
Having breezed through the opening round with a 2-17 to 0-4 win over St Fintan’s High School of Sutton, Knockbeg will go on to the last eight still wondering how they willl stand up under pressure. They were never really troubled by St Joseph’s in this clash, but they can take all the credit for that as they were clinical when they needed to be.
They had a good team ethic too, and on more than one occasion Knockbeg forwards could be seen tracking runs into their defence. To add to that, of their 13 scores, seven different players contributed to the total, with both midfielders and five of the six forward hitting the target.
It was all very positive for them leaving Dr Cullen Park on Wednesday, but manager Chris Conway will know that far greater tests await in the rounds ahead.
They could only beat what was in front of them on this occasion, and the expertly dispatched of the Westmeath outfit, coached by former Carlow and Westmeath manager Luke Dempsey.
St Joseph’s had actually taken an early lead, as full-forward Shane Murtagh pointed form 30 yards out inside the first minute, but that would be the only time they lead.
Less than two minutes later, Knockbeg were back on level terms when midfielder John Joe Mahon let fly from just inside the Rochfortbridge 45 to score an excellent point. His midfield partner Conor Hogan was next to raise a white flag, taking a pass from Michael Kehoe and popping the ball over the bar.
Knockbeg never looked back after that, and the pulled two ahead with Michael Kehoe’s ambitious free from way out on the right wing was tapped over the crossbar by the Rochfortbridge goalkeeper Ruairi Coyne.
Four minutes later the lead was stretched once again, this time Aaron Forbes making light of the 40 yard distance he was from goal by floating the ball between the posts, with Rochfortbridge finally hitting back at the other end, though Shane Corcoran.
If the Westmeath side thought that might inspire something in the way of a comeback, they were sadly mistaken as Knockbeg scored their first goal moments later. A wonderful team move culminated in Cathal Dunne passing to Michael Kehoe, who in turn set up Ethan O’Neill for a simple finish.
The St Joseph’s response was impressive, with Killian Doyle scoring a fine goal from the edge of the penalty area, but Knockbeg quickly canceled that out. If their first goal was a team effort, the second was about individual skill, with Aaron Forbes the one providing it. He fielded a high ball ten yards from goal, lost the full-back with a quick jink and then hammered a shot into the top corner of the net.
That left it 2-4 to 1-2 at half time, and with the wind in their backs in the second half, Knockbeg just needed to keep their heads.
They did admirably as they totally dominated the first ten minutes or so, scoring 1-5 without reply to make the game safe. David Tomkins, Daniel Reilly and Aaron Forbes all pointed early in the half to break what little resolve Rochfortbridge had left. Ethan O’Neill and Reilly added another point apiece, before Tomkins was set up in the penalty area, and he made no mistake to make it 3-9 to 1-2.
Rochfortbridge managed to add two more points to their tally before the final whistle, either side of another score from David Tomkins, but it was all academic at that stage as Knockbeg ran out convincing winners.
SCORERS - Knockbeg: Aaron Forbes (0-1 frees), David Tomkins 1-2 each, Ethan O’Neill 1-1, Daniel Reilly 0-2, Michael Kehoe (free), Conor Hogan, John Joe Mahon 0-1 each; St Joseph’s Rochfortbridge: Killian Doyle 1-0, Shane Murtagh 0-2, Shane Corcoran, Fergal McGuinness (free) 0-1 each
KNOCKBEG: Daniel Halpin (Ballylinan); Liam Knowles (Stradbally), Denis Brophy (Barrowhouse), Kevin Doyle (Tinahely); Adam Campion (St Joseph’s), Donal Ramsbottom (St Joseph’s), Lar Sullivan (Ballon); John Joe Mahon (Castledermot), Conor Hogan (Courtwood); Michael Kehoe (St Joseph’s), Aaron Forbes (Graiguecullen), Daniel Reilly (Graiguecullen); Ethan O’Neill (Graiguecullen), David Tomkins (Coolkenno), Cathal Dunne (Ballylinan). Subs: David Lawlor (Arles-Kilcruise) for Sullivan (44 mins), Noel Leech (St Joseph’s) for Knowles (49 mins), Aaron McGrath (Killeshin) for Forbes (56 mins), Mark Rennick (Palatine) for Campion (56 mins), Cian Maher (St Joseph’s) for Dunne (59 mins)
ST JOSEPH’S ROCHFORTBRIDGE: Ruairí Coyne; Liam O’Reilly, David Rigney, Jason Gorman; Ciaran Doyle, Luke Gallagher, Mark Hegarty; Cathal Butler, Darren Giles; Jack Gorman, Shane Corcoran, Killian Doyle; Fergal McGuinness, Shane Murtagh, Ian Kilcoyne. Subs: Gary Morgan for Butler (39 mins), Sam Duncan for K Doyle (43 mins), Niall McCabe for C Doyle (45 mins), Dylan Raleigh for Jason Gorman (48 mins)
Referee: Alan Lagrue (Kildare)