Goals crucial as Cooper drives Na Fianna to victory
NA FIANNA produced an impressive performance in accounting for St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh by 2-10 to 0-11 in their Division 1 Top 4 semi-final at a rain-sodden St Margaret's last night.
The win caps off an excellent four days for the St Mobhi Road club who qualified for the Dublin Under 21 'A' final following their semi-final win over Ballyboden St Enda's last Saturday afternoon.
With the game following the expected tight nature given the relative merits of both sides, it was Na Fianna's ability to plunder goals at the most opportune time that eventually settled the tie with St Jude's awaiting the Glasnevin men in the league showdown this coming Sunday.
The two goals arrived within three second-half minutes with Aidan Downes playing a crucial role in both.
In the 50th minute, Downes fetched superbly to feed David Quinn for a clinical finish to hand Na Fianna a three-point lead.
That lead was doubled soon after as Downes got on the end of a hopeful delivery to fist into the top corner and although Plunkett's replied with a late score from substitute Bernard Brogan, it proved of little consequence at the finish.
Of equal significance to the goals was the display of Jonny Cooper at centrefield with the 2010 All-Ireland U21-winning captain providing a wealth of possession against Plunkett's tried-and-trusted pairing of Dublin senior Ross McConnell and Meath's Anthony Moyles.
With Alan Brogan roving efficiently in the opening half, Plunkett's led by 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval despite playing against the elements with Ciarán Duignan responsible for the bulk of Na Fianna's scores.
Four successive points upon the restart, shared by Duignan, Quinn and the impressive Adam Caffrey pushed Na Fianna three points clear and with John Kelly and Enda Ledwith to the fore defensively, the ensuing goals were enough to see Stephen McGlinchey's men home with five points to spare.
"We had a fair few lads on the panel who were involved with the under-21s on Saturday and they've been training away so that helped us have an edge in terms of fitness I reckon," said McGlinchey. "It'll be a tough game against St Jude's at the weekend.
"We had a great game against them back in November and we'd expect no different next Sunday."