EMO are still smarting after making the drop to intermediate last year and are determined to make an immediate return to the upper echelons. They started the quest on a very positive in Mountmellick on Thursday night when they swept aside the Annanough challenge. But in truth, this wasn’t much of a contest and the men in white and red had 15 points to spare at the final whistle, and it could have been greater. The Paul Lawlor trained side are the favourites to win the championship and be promoted and they showed that they will be hard to stop with a thoroughly commanding display.They were six points to the good before the tenth minute was reached. Four points from player-manager Paul Lawlor as well as sores from Darren Strong and Chris Gleeson set them on their way to a comprehensive victory. Annanough almost had a goal with their first attack when Shane Stapleton was unlucky not to score but they finally got off the mark midway through the half thanks to Donal Miller.Paul Lawlor responded with his fifth point before Annanough once again almost had a goal. This time it was Seamus Stapleton who had the chance but his shot just went over the crossbar.And Emo made their opponents pay for those missed opportunities as Nigel Murphy scored what is certainly contender for goal of the championship when he unleashed a rasper from 25 metres off the outside of his boot which flew into the top corner.Donal Miller and Darren Strong exchanged points to leave the score reading 1-8 to 0-3 at half time.Strong and Chris Gleeson extended Emo’s lead on the resumption of play before Donal Miller, who was Annanough’s best player, got his third of the evening.Brothers Shane and Nigel Murphy both pointed before Donal Miller hit Annanough’s fifth but the game was put beyond the men in blue and yellow soon after.Chris Gleeson notched Emo’s second goal in the middle of points from Finbar Crowley, Evan Costello and Pádraig Kirwan to give them a 15 point cushion.Annanough did finish the game well. Donal Miller landed another free and they were then awarded a penalty when substitute David Booth was fouled.Teenager Elliott Scully took it and although his effort came back off the post, he was there to tap home the rebound.Emo had the final say as they worked the ball up the field from the resulting kick-out and Nigel Murphy fisted the ball to the back of the net.Annanough now head for the losers section knowing one more defeat will send them to a relegation final while Emo are into the winners section and know that another win will put them into the semis.
EMO: David Whelan; Paddy Dunne, James O’Rourke, Brian Gorman; Nigel Murphy (2-1), Niall Wheeler, Pádraig Kirwan (0-1); Darren Strong (0-3), Marc Carney; Finbar Crowley (0-1), Shane Murphy (0-1), Chris Gleeson (1-2); David Gorman, Paul Lawlor (0-5, 0-4f), Dylan Lalor. Sub: Evan Costello (0-1)
ANNANOUGH: Seán Hennessy; Conor Stapleton, Darren Maher, Marcus Shortall; Rory Stapleton, Marty Stapleton, John Scully; Shane Stapleton, Seamus Stapleton (0-1); Simon Miller, Colin Miller, Elliot Scully (1-0); James Miller, Donal Miller (0-5, 2f), Fergal Scully. Sub: David Booth
Referee: David Moore (St Joseph’s)