Ratoath maintained their 100% record to nail down top spot with a good win over Dunboyne at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.
Ratoath ......... 2-13
Dunboyne ...... 1-11
The outcome means Ratoath avoid champions Simonstown who face Dunboyne at the last eight stage. Ratoath face Wolfe Tones in a quarter-final clash.
Ratoath inflicted a first defeat of the campaign on Dunboyne by outscoring their neighbours by 2-9 to 1-3 when wind assisted in the second-half.
A feature of Ratoath's performance was the manner in which they retained possession in difficult conditions. Doing so deep in one's own half can be risky. Dunboyne might have pulled a goal back before Stuart Lowndes netted in the final quarter to leave just a point between the sides.
Lowndes struck seconds after Joey Wallace finished a great move with Ratoath's second goal. The full-forward posted 1-2 from play after the break.
Ratoath led by 2-8 to 1-10 but went on to outscore Dunboyne by 0-5 to 0-1 in the 12 remaining minutes that included four additional minutes.
Joey Wallace's 31st minute goal set Ratoath on their way to their fifth win of the campaign. Dunboyne battled to stay in contention despite the blustery conditions and heavy showers.
Ratoath used possession to good effect and might have got another goal but for Dunboyne netminder Padraig Curran. For the second SFC game running, Dunboyne were without Donal Lenihan.
In the first-half Dunboyne were backed by the strong wind blowing into the town end. Yet it was Ratoath who hit the front through Eamon Wallace five minutes in.
Ratoath worked possession well in the opening 20 minutes. After the scores were level three times the better dressed team took the lead for the second time through Bryan McMahon 19 minutes in. The second time the 2015 IFC winners hit the front.
Ratoath had the only goal chance in this phase but Padraig Curran was equal to Bobby O'Brien's 14th minute effort.
Dunboyne closed out the first-half with five points on the bounce with Robbie McCarthy getting two of them. The team in black and amber stripes reached halfway with an 0-8 to 0-4 lead.
Within 50 seconds of resumption, Ratoath goaled through Brian Power who finished a Joey Wallace pass to the net. It cut the gap to the minimum and the momentum was with the 2015 IFC winners.
Ratoath - Shane Duffy; Brian O'Connor (C), Conor McGill (0-1),Darragh McGill; Enda Cahill (0-1), Brian Power (1-0), Gavin McGowan; Ben McGowan, Conor Rooney (0-1); Eamon Wallace (0-4. 3fs), Bobby O'Brien (0-1), Gavin Quigley; Eoghan McMahon (0-1), Joey Wallace (1-2), Bryan McMahon (0-2).Subs - Gareth Rooney for Quigley (56), Colin Nugent for G McGowan (58).
Dunboyne - Padraig Curran; Jordan McLoughlin, Seamus Lavin, Jack Scannell; Shane McEntee (0-1), Gavin McCoy (0-1); Conor Doran; David Gallagher, Cathal Finn (C) (0-1), Cathal Lacey, Niall Jones (0-1), Stuart Lowndes (1-1); Robbie McCarthy (0-3, 21fs), Stephen Moran (0-1), David McEntee (0-2). Subs - Jason Daly for Jones (bs 12-17). Cian O'Dwyer for Lacey (45), Daly for Jones (bs 47-52), Daly for Moran (54).
Referee - Patrick Nelis (Kilmainham)