ADULT FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION ONE ROUND-UP: FEBRUARY 17
By Daire Walsh
St Vincent’s produced a strong second-half display on Sunday morning to make a winning start to the defence of their Adult Football League Division One title.
On level terms with Skerries Harps at the midway point of their contest in Pairc Naomh Uinsionn, the Marino men turned on the style after the resumption to record a 2-15 to 0-14 triumph. In a forward line that also included former county stars Tomas Quinn (Dublin) and Enda Varley (Mayo), Diarmuid Connolly proved to be a focal point for the hosts.
The five-time Celtic Cross winner kicked three points during the opening period as Vins looked to issue an early statement of intent for 2019. Nevertheless, Skerries were also keen to make an impression on their return to the top-flight.
Stephen Smith and Harry Dawson registered two points apiece in the early exchanges, before their northside rivals settled into a more familiar rhythm. Varley rattled the net at the end of an incisive attack, only for Harps to develop further momentum at the opposite end.
This ensured that parity was restored in time for the interval (1-6 to 0-9) and the visitors briefly edged in front when the action resumed. Yet, following excellent approach work by Gavin Burke, Quinn added a second Vins goal on 36 minutes.
They found themselves in the driving seat as a result and with Connolly in fine form, they pushed on to eventually claim the spoils. In a clash between the division’s other newly-promoted sides, Fingallians had five points to spare (1-11 to 0-9) over Templeogue Synge Street at Dolphin Park.
Despite being without the influential trio of Niall Scully, Denis Bastick and Ger Vickery, Templeogue dominated the opening-quarter on their home patch. Courtesy of points by Killian O’Gara (two), Eoghan O’Gara, Luke O’Brien and Aidan Crean, they established a 0-5 to 0-2 cushion.
Mike Fitzpatrick’s charges subsequently suffered a set-back when Eoghan O’Gara was red-carded - providing Fingallians with the foundations for a strong finish to the half.
With inter-county veteran Paul Flynn exerting an influence, they rallied off four points in succession to bring a slender lead into the break. They remained in the ascendancy on the restart - amassing 1-3 without reply to take firm control of the proceedings.
Derek Rodgers contributed a brace of long-range points for the Swords men, who had a significant wind at their backs in the second period. To Templeogue’s credit, they persevered with their challenge in the face of extreme adversity.
Carrying the mantle in the absence of his older brother, Killian O’Gara was superb throughout for the southside outfit. After his two-point salvo narrowed the deficit, Neil Duffy added an additional score for a spirited TSS.
Fingallians marginally missed out on the AFL2 crown to Templeogue at the tail end of 2018, but they held out for a morale-boosting victory on this occasion.
Elsewhere, David Lacey and Conor McHugh produced devastating performances at St Mobhi Road to give Na Fianna a 3-14 to 2-10 win at the expense of St Jude’s. In Dessie Farrell’s first competitive game at the helm, Lacey bagged 2-2 to get the Glasnevin side up and running.
In addition to his exploits as a Dublin minor footballer, the dynamic attacker also featured heavily at schools rugby level with Belvedere College. GAA is his primary focus for the moment, though, and he was ably-assisted by Sky Blues panellist Conor McHugh.
His 0-8 haul offered Na Fianna a stranglehold against last year’s county championship finalists - for whom Kevin McManamon lined out at full-forward. The visitors attempted a mini-revival with two goals in the dying moments of the play, but it wasn’t enough to deny their impressive opponents.
At 12th Lock, Brendan Gallagher slotted home two opening half penalties to propel Lucan Sarsfields towards a 2-17 to 2-8 success over Cuala. County champions Kilmacud Crokes produced an accomplished display on their way to a 1-13 to 1-8 home victory against St Brigid’s, while Ballyboden St Enda’s had the better of Ballymun Kickhams at Pairc Ciceam (2-10 to 0-10).
Ballinteer St John’s were 3-11 to 0-12 winners over Thomas Davis at Marley Park and Naomh Maur had the measure of St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh in Rush (1-16 to 1-7).