Friday 28 October 2016

Tarf back in big time

Clontarf clinch super triumph at Pat's stately Donabate residence

DONABATE dazzled in the sunshine. Friday tea-time. The village was busy.

The red church kept an eye on everyone. Two eyes.

The faithful were heading for Robbie Farrell Park, the home of St Patrick's.

They are in their 91st year. The venue has never looked better.

Groundsman, Mick Duignan, could have brought the turf to Bloom, or the Chelsea Flower Show.

It's one of the most scenic locations in the county. In past the ornate gates, the charming gate-lodge and up the stately drive-way.

The Saints were welcoming Royalty. Dr Noel McCaffrey, the prince of Dublin centre half-backs.

Noel is managing Clontarf. Mick Bohan is their celebrated coach.

Shane Dalton, Eoghan O'Grady and Anne O'Mahony are also on the McCaffrey management ticket.

All were predicting a tight tussle with Skerries Harps, also thriving in Division 2, and who almost shocked St Brigid's last season.

But, unfortunately, the river didn't flow. The difficult breeze saw to that.


A sudden, heavy shower had watered the sod half an hour before the throw-in.

Harps had the wind in the first half. They led by 0-5 to 0-3 at the break.

It looked like it was going to be a game of two halves. Maybe even four.

But Tarf quickly took control after the oranges. And it's their first time in the quarter-final of the Dublin Senior football Championship since the early 1990s.

They are a most impressive, compact side. Conor Cronin was majestic in defence.

He read the game beautifully. He could predict the bounce of the ball.

If he went into Fortune Telling, he'd make five million at Puck Fair.

Ian O'Dwyer is the most accomplished free-taker. He bends them better than Beckham.

And everybody knows that Jack McCaffrey possesses the pace of a panther.

He was at his best in the early pages of the second half. He was getting on a lot of ball.

He came within inches of a goal a minute into the restart following a fast-flowing move.

And, on 37 minutes, it was Ciaran Johnston that tucked in the golden goal.

Clontarf got there by two points in the end, 1-10 to 0-11. Their defence had to earn their supper late on. Harps were coming on strong. Harry Dawson is a fine forward. Donnacha Reilly was showing drive, while Bryan Cullen had the guile.

But Tarf closed off the harbour, and on the final whistle, the cheers could be heard back on the coast road.

On the Malahide Road on Saturday, the champions, St Vincent's, overcame Naomh Olaf.

It was a delayed first round tie that was called off on that wet Friday last month.

Vins won, 2-14 to 0-6 at Parnell's. Olaf's, from Division 3, can feel pleased with their evenings work.

The Marino manager, Tommy Conroy, complimented their display.

"Olaf's caused us problems. They did well around the middle of the park.

"Defensively, they had a good structure, and they made things difficult for us.

"It wasn't an easy day for either side. There was a swirling breeze.

"We had to be patient. We managed to get a few openings.

"We are just happy to get through and look forward to the next round."

And what a round that will be - Vinnie's against the 'Mun.

That's a game that will stop the traffic. A match that would do justice to the final itself.

And a repeat of the 2013 final which went to a replay. Two thrillers.

On Saturday evening, Vincent's played with much assurance. A decent crowd looked on in the sunshine.

Eamon Fennnell and Nathan Mullins did well at midfield. Gavin Burke hit four elegant points.

Shane Carthy and Ruairí Trainor showed energy and intelligence. Ruairí got the opening goal. Mossy struck the second from a penalty.

Michael Savage made a fabulous save from David Byrne in the second half.

Hugh Gill, Brendan Egan and their colleagues always looked secure in defence.

Shane Smith is managing Olaf's. And making a commendable job of it. The League form is good.

Shane scored a ton of points for Thomas Davis. And his Sandyford Saints will take much from this appointment with the masters of Marino.

Now Vins v Ballymun Kickhams, and the rest of the city, count down the long lazy, hazy days of summer.

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