deadly davis in dreamland
Hosts make most of limited possession to secure title at expense of wayward Mearnóg
THOMAS DAVIS 0-10
NAOMH MEARNÓG 0-8
Four unanswered points in the final quarter helped Thomas Davis claim the Dublin Under-21 'B' Football Championship title by two points over a wasteful Naomh Mearnóg at Kiltipper Road last Saturday afternoon.
Trailing by 0-8 to 0-6 after 45 minutes, the hosts made better use of limited possession and territory with Paul Hudson landing three well-taken frees and Seán Reilly's glorious solo score four minutes from time was a fitting conclusion to such a hard-fought contest.
Naomh Mearnóg's disappointment at falling short of the line will be compounded by an excessive wides tally of 15, while a serious knee injury to substitute Niall Murphy five minutes after his introduction cast a shadow over the remainder of the game.
The visitors had just taken the lead in the 34th minute thanks to their first score from play by Ryan O'Sullivan when Murphy landed awkwardly on the all-weather surface, with the ensuing 40-minute delay perhaps affecting their concentration from that point on.
Both sides initially struggled to deal with both nerves and the swirling breeze in an error-strewn opening five minutes but an excellent Aaron Delaney point looked to have a settling effect on the hosts in the early exchanges.
Reilly was next to showcase his talents with a classy point of his own in the eighth minute after superb approach play from Robbie Sharkey, and all three of the Thomas Davis inside-forward line had found the target when Hudson slotted over three minutes later following a lightening counter-attack.
The impressive Shane Carthy finally opened Mearnóg's account with a 13th-minute free and with Michael Gibbs and Seán Kenny beginning to gain a foothold at centrefield, the visitors began to monopolise possession.
The hosts made the most of a sporadic attack in the 16th minute when Hudson was fouled to enable Matt Holland to land the resultant free. And goalkeeper Seán Blanchfield ensured his side's lead with a sprawling save from Jamie Walsh as the pressure began to tell on the Thomas Davis defence.
Carthy was the beneficiary of some increasingly ill-disciplined defending, with three successive frees inside five minutes reflecting their supremacy and threat at this juncture.
Crucially, the Tallaght men continued to reap maximum reward at the opposite end with a superb '45' from Holland in injury time confirming a 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead for Thomas Davis.
That lead was cancelled out within three minutes of the restart as Carthy registered his fifth free of the afternoon and when O'Sullivan handed Naomh Mearnóg the lead with an excellent score from the right flank, the contest appeared to be swinging in favour of the visitors.
Murphy's injury seemed to have scant bearing on the Portmarnock men initially and despite having their lead pegged back by Hudson soon after play resumed, they kicked on to open up a two-point lead thanks to scores from Gibbs and Carthy.
However, a succession of chances spurned, mainly by poor shot selection and a lack of composure allowed Thomas Davis to remain in the hunt and, driven on by Gavin Carruth, Naoise Condren and the tireless Adam Fallon, they restored parity with 10 minutes left thanks to a brace of Hudson frees.
The ensuing scores from Hudson and Reilly confirmed the Thomas Davis comeback with the sending-off of Kenny at the death reflecting the frustration and disappointment of Naomh Mearnóg by the final whistle.