DUBLIN INTERMEDIATE HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
THOMAS DAVIS 0-10 NA FIANNA 1-6
By Daire Walsh
Kevin Ward cemented his name in the history books of Thomas Davis at Parnell Park on Friday evening, when his stoppage-time point helped the Tallaght outfit to claim the Dublin Intermediate Hurling Championship crown at the expense of Na Fianna.
They had previously come up short against Round Tower Clondalkin and Kevin’s in the 2006 and 2010 deciders, and even though it looked like a stalemate was on the cards for large stretches of the second-half, Ward steered Davis towards their first-ever final success at this grade with a superb score from distance.
The presence of torrential rain in the Donnycarney venue had an adverse effect on both teams during the early stages of the contest - and for much of the opening period as well.
Davis’ did create some promising chances in the opening moments, but with a number of their efforts on goal dropping short, the Na Fianna defence remained unbreached. The Glasnevin men also clocked up some early wides, before they finally opened the scoring with just under seven minutes gone on the clock.
Inside forward Niall Madden was picked out in space on the left-wing, and he found the far corner of the Davis net with a superb finish. This was a set-back for their Kiltipper Road counterparts, but strong perseverance by full-forward John O’Riordan paid off from the subsequent attack.
He flicked over Eoin Skelly’s (who was Dublin minor captain in 2015) crossbar from close-range, and with corner-forwards David Byrne and Cian Murphy also posing a threat in possession, they were beginning to settle into the proceedings.
Byrne eventually reduced the deficit to the bare minimum with an outstanding point on the turn from a right-hand angle, but as the half developed, scoring opportunities continued to be few and far between. A disciplined defensive effort by Davis’ initially prevented Na Fianna from adding to Madden’s three-pointer, but centre-forward Aaron Jesson finally converted a routine free on 23 minutes.
After a couple of his frees had fallen short of the target, Davis half-forward Ward split the posts from play, and the southsiders restored parity with a fine score on the run by marauding wing-back David Keogh.
Yet, Na Fianna immediately restored their slender cushion with another Jesson free, and he increased his tally with a similar effort from the left-hand touchline on the half-hour mark. There was enough time for Ward to register his first set-piece score of the night, though, and this meant that just one point separated the sides (1-3 to 0-5) at the midway stage.
Na Fianna were hoping to add to their intermediate title of 1958, and Jesson extended their lead six minutes after the restart with his fourth pointed free of the tie. Half-time substitute Cillian Heeney had been added to the northside club’s forward line, but despite having midfielder Eanna O’Toole booked for a late challenge on opposition corner-back Sean Baxter, Davis didn’t allow their heads to drop.
Ward made no mistake from a 60-metre free, and the lively Byrne levelled matters once more by completing a fine team move with an eye-catching point. With the weather conditions gradually beginning to improve, anticipation started the grow for the final-quarter of this showpiece event.
Byrne edged Davis into the lead for the very first time with a superb effort out on the left-wing, but after Jesson was wide of the mark from a couple of placed-ball attempts, Seamie O’Sullivan got Na Fianna back on track with their first point from open play.
However, they were finding it harder to rein in the Davis challenge, and another Ward single moved their opponents back into the ascendancy. This was a game that was set to go down to the wire, though, and Jesson’s fifth point meant that the sides were once again inseparable by the end of normal time.
This set-up a dramatic conclusion, and two minutes into injury-time, Ward found the range from inside the opposing ’65’ to seal the silverware for Thomas Davis. This victory was warmly welcomed by the travelling Kiltipper Road faithful, and their side will now face Senior ‘B’ champions Raheny for the right to represent Dublin in the Leinster Intermediate Hurling Championship.
Scorers - Thomas Davis: Kevin Ward 0-5 (3f), David Byrne 0-3, David Keogh, John O’Riordan 0-1 each. Na Fianna: Aaron Jesson 0-5 (4f), Niall Madden 1-0, Seamie O’Sullivan 0-1.
THOMAS DAVIS: Caelan Brennan; Jack McDonnell, Colin Brown, Dillon Joyce; David Keogh, Sean Reilly, Gavin Carruth; Daire Kerr, Eanna O’Toole; Kevin Ward, Tom O’Dwyer, Ryan Deegan; David Byrne, John O’Riordan, Cian Murphy. Subs: Liam Sinnott for O’Dwyer (45), Conor Molloy for Joyce (50), Dean Gibbons for O’Riordan (57), David Newell for Carruth (61), Sean Blanchfield for Deegan (64).
NA FIANNA: Eoin Skelly; Eoin O’Sullivan, Eamonn Cassidy, Sean Baxter; Conor Baxter, Peter Feeney, Rob Fenlon; Andy Flaherty, Marcus O’Brien; Seamie O’Sullivan, Aaron Jesson, Matthew Oliver; David Murtagh, Colm Ryan, Niall Madden. Subs: Cillian Heeney for Murtagh (half-time), Cathal Caverly for Ryan, Kevin McDonnell for Oliver (48), Eoghan Heeney for C Baxter (63).
Referee: Sean McCarthy (St Vincent’s).