All eyes on the ball as John O’Leary scores for Johnville. | Photos: Jim O Sullivan

All eyes on the ball as John O’Leary scores for Johnville. | Photos: Jim O Sullivan

Johnville 1; St Saviours 3

Last season’s surprise packets St Saviours got their new campaign up and running in stunning fashion on Sunday when they proved far to powerful for a Johnville team who have flirted with relegation for the past three years.

They had no answer for the strong and pacy runs of Aaron O’Neill and Stephen Dalton and perhaps they could be facing another hard season. St Saviours on the other hand could enjoy another fine season considering they won this game without four of their regular players.

Barron volley

St Saviours took the lead after 17 minutes in superb fashion. Aaron O’Neill went charging down the right flank following a pass from Brian Arrigan. He got the ball into the Johnville six yards box but his cross was headed clear by defender John Kennedy. His clearance was met by the former Johnville player Billy Barron and he unleashed a brilliant volley from 25 yards past goalkeeper Dean Purcell.

Barron should have scored once again three minutes later when the Johnville goalkeeper made a mess of a simple back pass but Barron shot wide from four yards.

Johnville got back on level terms on 22 minutes. Gary Kelly took a pass from John O’Leary and his right wing cross was met by the head of Valdo Bulvas. His first effort came back off the crossbar but following through he made no mistake with his second attempt.

Three minutes later Johnville were awarded a penalty kick when referee Ian Paul adjudged that John Keane had tripped John O’Leary inside the box. Bulvas took the spot kick but his effort was brilliantly saved by the Saints’ goalkeeper Graham Cleary.

St Saviours went on to dominate the remainder of the first half but they could not regain their lead.

Dalton brace

The Saints took up the running once again when the second period got underway and they duly took the lead for the second time after 55 minutes. Aaron O’Neill took off like a greyhound down the right wing. He skipped past John Butler before crossing low to Stephen Dalton who was in the right place to tuck the ball to the net from close range.

Johnville were getting overrun in the middle of the park at this stage and they were also having difficulty out wide and it came as no real surprise when they wrapped up the game with nine minutes remaining.

It was a superb solo goal from Stephen Dalton which sealed the points for Sat Saviour’s. He ran 20 yards with the ball before cutting into the penalty area and then drawing goalkeeper Dean Purcell and firing to the net from around the penalty spot.

It is worth noting that Johnville defeated St Saviours 3-0 in the first game of last season. Something similar was never going to happen this time around.

Johnville: Dean Purcell, Peter Cleary, John Butler, John Kennedy, Dan Murphy, Michael Heffernan, Paul Cleary, Alan Ryan, John O’Leary, Valdo Bulvas, Gary Kelly. Subs: Declan Phelan for Kennedy (H-T), Gavin Phelan for Heffernan (58 mins), James Starmer for Kelly (72 mins).

St Saviours: Graham Cleary, Brian Arrigan, John Keane, Clifton Power, Kenny McLawrence, John Paul Jacob, Anthony Jacob, Aaron O’Neill, Billy Barron, Stephen Dalton, Phil Penkert. Subs: Brian O’Donoghue for Keane (35 mins), Colm Keane for Barron (80 mins), Pat Kiely for O’Neill (86 mins).

Referee: Ian Paul.