Ballyhaise 1-17 Swanlinbar 1-9
Ballyhaise displayed some impressive football this afternoon to brush aside Swanlinbar in the intermediate championship first round at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Some had fancied Swad to cause an upset coming into this contest, with their opponents missing star forward Kevin Tierney, who is currently abroad, but it was John Brady's side that ruled the roost for large portions of this match as their livewire full-forward line totalled 1-13 from open play during the hour.
Trailing from the 26th minute onwards, the west Cavan outfit were handed a late lifeline via a terrific goal from centre-back Chris Curran, but, realistically, couldn't stay in touch with last year's beaten finalists as the outstanding Stephen Smith (0-7) continued to queue up for scores alongside Padraig Moore (1-3), Martin Conaty and county minor ace David Brady.
Eamonn Costello looped over Ballyhaise's opener after three minutes which Michael Cunningham erased in as many minutes from a well-struck 40-metre free.
Some patient build up play set Smith away for his first eight minutes in before some excellent work from Curran at the other end levelled the sides again. The number 6 did brilliantly to win back possession in his own half with a soccer style tackle which allowed him to set up Cunningham, who in turn found Gearoid McKiernan and the Cavan midfielder sailed over.
A Moore goal chance went over instead of under in the very next attack, letting Swad off the hook, as Cunningham tapped over his second free to leave nothing between them after 18 minutes.
McKiernan, who was far from his brilliant best around the centre, drilled a goal chance wide of Eamon Brady's left post soon after and it acted as somewhat of a wake-up call for the favourites as they dominated the remainder of the half, aiming inside to Smith time and time again.
The full-forward sent over two in quick succession before Conaty registered his first three minutes from the break. Smith landed his fourth in fine style after leaving marker Greg McGovern for dead and splitting the posts.
Breffni McKiernan saw a late goal chance somehow kept out on the eve of half-time, as Brady gobbled up loose possession on the edge of his small square, sparing the green flag and sending his side in with a 0-7 to 0-3 lead.
Veteran forward Colm Reilly was introduced to the fray for the second-half for the leaders and he helped them to pick up right where they left off, with Moore finding plenty of space in behind Swad's rear guard to fist over number eight.
Michael Cunningham cancelled that out for the time being but Ballyhaise continued to find joy in their front line as young star Brady slipped Smith through for his fifth. Moore and Mark Cunningham (free) traded singles thereafter, as the trend continued, before the only real setback for arrived for Ballyhaise when midfielder Sean McCormack picked up a second caution for cutting Curran's run short.
Smith underlined his 'Man of the Match' display on the fourth quarter mark, starting a move in his own full-back line which he finished over from some 40 metres along the left flank, ushering his side seven clear.
Swad looked done for until points from Michael and Mark Cunningham were backed up by Curran's fantastic strike, after he'd ghosted in and found the far corner of Brady's netting, reducing the deficit to three.
Ballyhaise's rhythm wasn't hindered in the slightest though and they kept their foot on the throttle as Brady fired over a brilliant response before Reilly and Conaty combined to send Moore through for their goal.
There was simply no coming back from that for Swad, with Smith fisting over his seventh to put a seal on the win and get the men from Annalee Park comfortably over a potential banana skin.
Ballyhaise: Eamon Brady; Brendan Lyons, Mark Brennan, Fiachra McGoldrick; Shane McKiernan, Eamonn Costello (0-1), Francis Moore; Conor Lyons, Sean McCormack; David Brady (0-2), Barry Kelly, Marcus Duffy (0-1); Martin Conaty (0-3), Stephen Smith (0-7), Padraig Moore (1-3). Subs: Colm Reilly for S McKiernan (HT), Niall Costello for M Conaty (58), Ryan Brennan for C Lyons (59), Darren Reilly for B Kelly (60), Aodhagan Brady for D Brady (60).
Swanlinbar: Gerry Scollan; Cathal O'Sullivan, Greg McGovern, John Joe McGovern; Conor Walsh, Chris Curran (1-0), Damian Leydon; Gearoid McKiernan (0-2), Michael Cunningham (0-3, 2f); Paul McGovern, Tommy O'Brien, Paul O'Brien; Joey O'Brien, Breffni McKiernan, Mark Cunningham (0-4, 2f). Subs: Rory McBarron for P O'Brien (20mins), Robbie Prior for P McGovern (36), Michael Curran for J O'Brien.
Ref: Packie Smith (Killygarry)