Na Fianna5-13 St Sylvester's0-8
Three first-half goals into the breeze set Na Fianna up for a comprehensive twenty point victory over St Sylvester's in their disappointingly one-sided Dublin Under 16 'A' Football Championship first-round tie at Broomfield last Saturday afternoon.
With a far tighter encounter expected, Na Fianna withstood some early pressure by the hosts before clicking through the gears as they assumed complete control by the interval.
How difficult the visitors may have found matters had Syls not spurned some decent opportunities in the opening quarter is difficult to quantify, but with every wide that the hosts kicked in the first half, their collective confidence waned as the contest evolved.
In contrast, their opponents were far more clinical and economical with the chances that came their way with their wides tally of three, in what were not the easiest of conditions, highlighting their accuracy from both open play and placed balls.
Central to Na Fianna's dominance was the platform provided at centrefield by the tireless James Doran while David Lacey stamped his class on proceedings with a hugely influential performance at centre-forward.
With a strong breeze at their backs, the hosts started on the front foot with Jack Whelan judging the wind to perfection as he converted a first-minute free.
However, the shot selection and accuracy of the home attack was marked absent in the ensuing ten minutes. Despite enjoying a wealth of possession, they failed to trouble the umpires after a series of poor attempts in front of goal.
Na Fianna gradually began to threaten themselves and after Lacey had levelled matters, they deservedly took the lead when Ted Regan hand-passed over the bar after a well-worked move.
By this stage, the visitors were beginning to instigate a series of moves from deep and another Lacey free inched them further ahead before they struck for the game's opening goal in the 18th minute as Shane O'Gorman palmed home from close range after a lively run down the right from Sean Currie.
Currie and Eoin O'Dea added points for a by-now dominant Na Fianna side with Syls managing to briefly hang onto their coattails through Daniel Brennan and Luke Hughes.
However, their task became even more difficult as they conceded two goals in as many minutes towards the end of the half with Lacey and Regan firing home as the home defence struggled to cope with the fluidity of the Na Fianna attack.
To their credit, Sylvester's finished the half strongly to kick successive points through Hughes, Cian McLaughlin and Whelan but the goal required to re-ignite their challenge failed to materialise against a stubborn Na Fianna defence in which full-back Ruadhan Byron excelled.
Leading by 3-6 to 0-6 at the break, Na Fianna, and Lacey in particular, resumed in determined fashion with the playmaker adding five unanswered points, four from play, to reinforce his side's supremacy by the 40th minute.
The hosts replied through scores from Osian Dullaghan and Robert O'Brien, which in fairness were poor reward for their improved efforts in the second half while McLaughlin was unfortunate to see his powerful effort crash off Dave O'Hanlon's crossbar. By committing so many numbers forward in their attempts to salvage the tie, the hosts left themselves susceptible to the counter-attack and another nail in their coffin was hammered in by Currie with a superbly composed finish in the 52nd minute, slipping two defenders before firing a low finish past the badly-exposed Seán O'Connor.
Six minutes later, Currie once again highlighted his goal threat with another cracking finish to the roof of O'Connor's net with, fittingly, the final word belonging to Lacey as he fired over an injury-time free to complete a highly satisfactory afternoon's work for his team-mates and their management team of Adam Caffrey, Hugh Gallagher, Dan McCowan and Jack Caffrey.
Scorers - Na Fianna: D Lacey 1-8 (0-4f), S Currie 2-3, T Regan 1-1, S O'Gorman 1-0, E O'Dea 0-1. St Sylvester's: J Whelan (0-1f), L Hughes 0-2 each, D Brennan (f), R O'Brien, O Dullaghan, C McLaughlin 0-1 each.
Na Fianna: D O'Hanlon; E McLoughlin, R Byron, P Gleeson; J Tierney, D Bergin, E O'Dea; J Doran, D Sanfey; C Gray, D Lacey, S O'Gorman; J Foley, T Regan, S Currie. Subs: J Callan for Gray (52), M Daly for Gleeson and R Coen for Tierney (56).
St Sylvester's: S O'Connor; R O'Brien, D O'Brien, L Butler; M Dowling, D Denneher, R Manzanella; M Young, O Dullaghan; L Hughes, J Whelan, C Mulcahy; C Casey, B O'Neill, D Brennan. Subs: P Butler for R O'Brien (19), C McLaughlin for Casey (25), C Miskelly for Hughes (33), S Wogan for O'Neill (44), R O'Brien for Brennan (45), B McCarthy for Butler (55).
Mentors - Na Fianna: Jack Caffrey, Adam Caffrey, Hugh Gallagher, Dan McGowan. St Sylvester's: Brian Barnes, Paddy Miskelly, Declan Lynch.
Referee: George Williams (Trinity Gaels)
Wides: Na Fianna 3 (1+2) St Sylvester's 14 (9+5)
Conditions: Bright and breezy.
Player of the Game: David Lacey (Na Fianna)