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*Colin Guilfoyle. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Newmarket-on-Fergus passed an important first test of character after eventually seeing off a resurgent Éire Óg to snatch the whip hand in Group 4 in O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge.

Newmarket-on-Fergus 0-22
Eire Óg 0-19
Venue: O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge

Despite seeing their eight point lead slashed to just one entering the final quarter, the Blues managed to weather the storm before digging out a merited opening victory, their first since 2017.

Without county seniors David Reidy and Aaron Fitzgerald through injury and the returning Shane O’Donnell only sprung from the bench for the second period, group favourites Éire Óg were always going to be up against it.

With Colin Ryan unerring from placed balls, the Blues initially took full advantage to build up a 0-13 to 0-06 interval advantage which became an eight point cushion only seconds into the new half when debutant Eanna Crimmins raided for his second point.

However, O’Donnell’s introduction would be a game-changer for the Townies and by the turn of the final quarter, the gap was lowered to just the minimum at 0-16 to 0-15, thanks in the main to five Danny Russell points.

Crucially however, Newmarket never allowed their neighbours to regain full parity and after getting a boost from their own impact substitute Stephen Kelly, Colin Ryan would help steer his side away from the rocks with five of the last eight points.

The experience of Colin Ryan, James McInerney, Enda Barrett and Colin Guilfoyle were essential while Eoin Guilfoyle and Éanna Crimmins combined for five points between them.

On the flip side, Éire Óg just gave their opponents too much of a headstart as a disappointing first half made way for a much more encouraging second period aided by the innate understanding between O’Donnell and Russell.

Éire Óg will also point to two second half goals chances that might have turned the tide decisively in their favour. However, following a remarkable run from his own half, Kieran Malone just struck agonisingly wide of the left post while Danny Russell was subsequently awarded a free just before the water break after a Newmarket puck-out was intercepted by Kevin Brennan.

Newmarket’s win against the odds does blow the group wide open ahead other Group 4 opener between Clooney-Quin and Feakle which takes place back in Sixmilebridge tomorrow at 1.30pm.

Scorers for Newmarket-on-Fergus: Colin Ryan (0-11, 9f); Eoin Guilfoyle (0-3); Eanna Crimmins, Mikey McInerney (0-2 each); Colin Guilfoyle, Peter Power, Liam Clancy, David Frost (0-1 each)

Scorers for Éire Óg: Danny Russell (0-14, 10f); Darren O’Brien (0-2); David McNamara, Oran Cahill, Kieran Malone (0-1 each)

1: Ronan McCormack

2: Sean O’Connor
3: James McInerney
4: Paraic McMahon

5: Niall O’Connor
6: Enda Barrett
7: Stephen Casey

9: Frank Melody
11: Colin Guilfoyle

17: Eanna Crimmins
10: Colin Ryan
12: Eoin Guilfoyle

20: Liam Clancy
14: Mikey McInerney
15: Peter Power

21: Stephen Kelly for Melody (46)
18: Jack Enright for McMahon (47)
19: Jack O’Connor for McInerney (47)
22: David Frost for Crimmins (58)

Éire Óg
1: Philly Walsh

2: Aidan McGrath
6: Ciaran Russell
20: Kieran Malone

7: Nathan Murray
5: Niall McMahon
3: Liam Corry

9: Darren O’Brien
11: Thomas Downes

19: Anthony O’Halloran
15: Kevin Brennan
10: David McNamara

13: Gavin Cooney
14: Danny Russell
12: Oran Cahill

18: James Lyne for O’Halloran (17)
26: Shane O’Donnell for Cooney (HT)
25: Mikey Moloney for Murray (54)

Referee: Wayne King (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield)

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