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AFL Div. 1 Match Report: Na Fianna v St. Olafs

AFL Div. 1 Match Report: Na Fianna v St. Olafs

Wed, 13th June 2018



By Daire Walsh

Sean Caffrey and Alistair Fitzgerald were in fine scoring form yesterday evening at St Mobhi Road, where Na Fianna extended their winning run in Division One of the Adult Football League.

Following previous successes over Thomas Davis, the high-flying Kilmacud Crokes and St Brigid’s, the Glasnevin men were hopeful that another accomplished display would help them to break into the top-four.

The newly-promoted Olaf’s had already put Brigid’s, St Jude’s and Ballymun Kickhams to the sword, and had kept themselves in the reckoning with some excellent second-quarter scores. However, a blistering end to the opening half propelled Na Fianna into the driving seat and they ultimately claimed their fourth victory on the bounce in ruthless style.

Inside the opening minute of the action, the impressive Caffrey split the posts to give Na Fianna a slender cushion. Eager to make amends for a comprehensive home reversal to neighbours Kilmacud last week, Olaf’s got back on level terms in swift fashion.

A long-distance effort by midfielder Darren O’Neill carried over the bar and the same player quickly added a second point for the visitors. They breathed a sigh of relief in the fifth-minute when Fitzgerald blasted past the right-hand post, though, and Brendan Redmond was subsequently beaten at the end of a subsequent attack.

After he was picked out in front of goal by a precise Eoin Connolly pass, Niall Cooper rolled the ball to the net. This three-pointer offered Na Fianna some leeway on their home patch, though O’Neill continued to drive Olaf’s forward at every available opportunity.

Yet, with Cooper providing effective defensive cover, they fell further behind to their northside counterparts. The reliable place-kicking of Caffrey and Deegan (two) allowed Na Fianna to open up a five-point lead (1-4 to 0-2) on 18 minutes, presenting Olaf’s with an early mountain to climb.

The Sandyford outfit stuck admirably to their task, with back-to-back points from Glenn Soraghan and O’Neill (his third) helping to re-build their confidence. An injury to the lively David Quinn disrupted the rhythm of the Na Fianna forward line, and while Olaf’s were also forced to replace Niall Manning, they cut the gap to the bare minimum on the half-hour mark.

Adding to an Eoin O’Mahony free, O’Neill registered his fourth point via excellent approach work by centre-field partner Conor Haskins. It was during the four minutes of stoppage-time that Na Fianna truly found their feet, however.

A long-delivery into the square was intended for Fitzgerald, and the towering full-forward fisted beyond the reach of the advanced Redmond. Soraghan responded at the opposite end, only for JJ Martin to release Fitzgerald for a simple palmed finish at close-range.

As a result, Na Fianna brought a commanding 3-4 to 0-7 buffer into the break. Olaf’s introduced Brian Begley on the resumption in a bid to re-ignite their challenge and he was later joined by the experienced Derek O’Flaherty.

This couldn’t halt the momentum that Na Fianna carried forward from the end of the first half, as the home side hit six points without reply to give themselves an unassailable advantage. Supplementing superb contributions from Caffrey and Deegan, Thomas Connell brilliantly sold a dummy to his marker before splitting the uprights on 38 minutes. Caffrey was beginning to play with supreme authority, and his 0-3 salvo ensured Na Fianna were well on their way to another triumph by the three-quarter mark.

Kieran Hanley finally broke this scoring chain with a fine point at the end of an intricate move and O’Flaherty also converted a placed-ball at a right-hand angle. Na Fianna did receive a minor let-off after 51 minutes, when a Shane Whyte strike smashed off the underside of the crossbar.

This may well have offered Olaf’s a late lifeline, but instead Na Fianna struck for their fourth (and final) goal of the contest. Substitute Cathal Doran was searching for his second point in the space of 60 seconds when he picked up possession inside the opposition ’45’.

Although his shot dropped short of the target, Redmond was only able to divert the ball into the path of the waiting Caffrey. He flicked to the net with minimal fuss, bringing his personal tally up to 1-6 on the night.

Unanswered scores courtesy of Deegan (two) and Fitzgerald further embellished Na Fianna’s haul, until a foul on Fiachra O’Sullivan led to an Olaf’s penalty on the hour. O’Flaherty dispatched the spot-kick past netminder Sam Bruton and added a brace of pointed frees to add a fairer reflection on the scoreboard.

Doran also managed to secure his second point deep into time added on, bringing the curtain down on a powerful performance by the hosts.

Scorers - Na Fianna: Sean Caffrey 1-6 (0-3f), Alistair Fitzgerald 2-1, Michael Deegan 0-5 (3f), Niall Cooper 1-0, Cathal Doran 0-2, Thomas Connell 0-1. Naomh Olaf: Derek O’Flaherty 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), Darren O’Neill 0-4 (1f), Glenn Soraghan 0-2, Eoin O’Mahony (f), Kieran Hanley 0-1 each.

NA FIANNA: Sam Bruton; Senan Coughlan, John Kelly, James Higgins; Eoin Connolly, Niall McGovern, Gus Farrell; JJ Martin, Niall Cooper; Thomas Connell, Michael Deegan, Colin Ryan; David Quinn, Alistair Fitzgerald, Sean Caffrey. Subs: John Foley for Quinn (24), Cathal Doran for Foley (42), Adam Baxter for Higgins (46), Killian Deeley for Ryan (50), Shane O’Leary for Martin (56).

NAOMH OLAF: Brendan Redmond; Gary Wilkins, Tim O’Donovan, Paul Hayes; Ronan Watters, Colin Doyle, Ryan Cafferky; Darren O’Neill, Conor Haskins; Niall Manning, Eoin O’Mahony, Darragh Byrne; Kieran Hanley, Glenn Soraghan, Shane Whyte. Subs: Fiachra O’Sullivan for Manning (22), Brian Begley for Byrne (half-time), Derek O’Flaherty for O’Mahony (38), Alan Kirwin for Cafferky (56).

Referee: Gary McCormack (Naomh Mearnog).

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