Na Fianna 2-7 v Kilmacud Crokes 2-5
The mood of the Kilmacud support matched the wet and miserable conditions at the end of this close hard fought struggle. A fancied Kilmacud team were just edged out by a hard working, committed and well organised Na Fianna side in the Minor A Championship Semi Final held in O’Toole Park last Sunday morning.
Heavy rain poured down for most of the match and scores were hard to come by. Kilmacud got off to a great start when awarded a penalty which seemed to be awarded a bit fortuitously. However the Na Fianna keeper pulled off a fine save and finger tipped David Higgins effort over the bar. Inspired by that save, Na Fianna playing an extra defender a la Armagh, dominated the rest of the first half, winning most of the 50/50 balls and showing more aggression in breaking the tackle and general hunger for victory. Half time came none too soon for Crokes as were 4 pts to 2 down.
Strong words were echoed around the half time huddle but despite noticeably upping the temp, we were hit with a sucker punch early in the second half. Greasy conditions saw one of our defenders slip on the 21 and the ball ended up in the Na Fianna’s right corner forwards hands. He showed great composure by chipping the goalie to score a great goal for Na Fianna. Six points down, things looks bleak but our lads showed what they were made off. Inspired by Mark Coughlan, the side lifted their performance and a couple of frees whittled away at the lead. With about 10 minutes to go, great work under ferocious pressure by Karl Diaz saw a Kilmacud attack end up with Barry O’Rorke whose attempt at a point ended up in the back of the net.
Three minutes later another high ball in from the sideline saw David Higgins rise highest and his punched effort almost put a hole in the net. Suddenly we were two points up. Continuing to exert pressure we attacked in droves but found a tight marking, intelligent Na Fianna defence tough to break down. With four minutes to go we were caught out on a break, when again the right corner forward from Na Fianna proved to be the thorn in our side. Winning the ball on the sideline 40 yards out, he rounded his man and hitting the “14”, he drilled an unstoppable shot. From the resultant kick out Na Fianna added on another point and despite camping inside the Na Fianna “50”, we couldn’t get the goal we needed.
Niall Butler for Ciaran O’Grady (Inj) 25
Dan McEvoy for Brendan Staunton ( 35)
Brian Hanamy for Niall Butler (Inj) 55
Kevin O’Loughlin for Conor Clinton 58