Surefire start propels Safety Direct into All Ireland semi final

Safety Direct regained the Galway junior interfirms hurling title with nine points to spare over Athenry Industries in Sunday's final at the Connacht Centre of Excellence, Ballyhaunis.

Safety led from start to finish - the final score 0-27 to 1-15 - and now qualify for an All Ireland semi-final against the Munster champions in a few weeks' time.

Athenry Industries, slow off the mark in the first half, trailed by 12 points, but they produced a superb second-half comeback. When Mark Hannon fired home in the 24th minute, there were only five points between the sides, but Safety were able to close out the match.

Safety were quickly out of the traps, and points from Jamie Blake (2 ), David Malone and the accurate Dan Nevin helped them establish an early lead. Enda Concannon opened Athenry Industries' tally with a free the fifth minute.

However the sharper Safety built up an eight-point lead by the 10th minute with scores from Richard Doyle, David Malone, Michael Daly and Eoin Forde. Although Concannon kept Athenry in touch with two pointed frees, they also squandered further chances.

Dan Nevin's accuracy was a key factor in Safety’s success. Two converted 65s stretched their advantage, and with further efforts from Richard Doyle and Declan Cronin, Safety opened up a 10-point gap by the 25th minute.

Although Liam O'Brien pulled one back for Athenry, Nevin and Daly, each with a brace of points, stretched Safety’s advantage. Dara Joyce and Barry McDonagh kept Athenry in touch as the first half came to a conclusion, but with Safety ahead by 0-18 to 0-6, it was always going to be a huge mountain to climb.

And it got worse for Athenry when Nevin posted two points after the resumption. Keith Kennedy and Darragh Dolan replied for Athenry, while Dolan and Michael Daly exchanged scores before another converted 65 by Nevin put Safety 13 points clear 10 minutes into the second half.

Athenry Industries continued to battle, and five points without reply brought Athenry back into the match. Enda Concannon fired over three points, while Darragh Dolan and James Concannon were also on target as the margin was whittled down to eight early in the final quarter.

Barry Daly, with Safety’s first score in 12 minutes, replied for the winners, but Athenry were still pulling the strings. They had reduced the gap to five after Mark Hannon turned and fired home, but Safety Direct finished with unanswered points from Dan Nevin (3 ) and Michael Daly to qualify for the All Ireland semi final.

Safety Direct: A Bindon, K Conneely, D Cronin(0-1 ), R Doyle(0-2 ), J Greaney, G Cormican, S Kilduff, M Daly(0-5 ), J Blake(0-2 ) D Malone(0-2 ), L Forde, M Burke, D Nevin(0-13, 4 65s, 3f ) K Fahy, E Forde(0-1 ). Subs: B Daly(0-1 ),

Athenry Industries: J Holland, E Tumon, S Burke, C Cannon, K Kennedy (0-1 ), E Ruane, M Hannon(1-0 ), J Healy, D Joyce(0-1 ), D Dolan(0-3 ), B McDonagh(0-1 ), E Concannon(0-7, 4f ), J Grealish, J Concanon(0-1 ), L O’Brien(0-1 ).

Referee: John Keane(Rahoon )

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