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Currie too hot as Fianna take pole position

Dublin SHC 'A' Group 4: Na Fianna 3-23 Cuala 2-20

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Na Fianna’s Fergal Breathnach emerges out of defence during his side’s Dublin SHC ‘A’ Group 4 victory over Cuala in Parnell Park on Saturday

Na Fianna’s Fergal Breathnach emerges out of defence during his side’s Dublin SHC ‘A’ Group 4 victory over Cuala in Parnell Park on Saturday

SPORTSFILE

Na Fianna’s Fergal Breathnach emerges out of defence during his side’s Dublin SHC ‘A’ Group 4 victory over Cuala in Parnell Park on Saturday

Na Fianna produced a stellar final-quarter at Parnell Park on Saturday to seal top spot in Group Four of the Dublin Senior 'A' Hurling Championship at the expense of defending champions Cuala.

Although Seán Baxter and AJ Murphy had put the Glasnevin men in the driving seat, their southside counterparts rallied and reduced the gap to two points (2-14 to 0-18) midway through the second half.

However, Na Fianna subsequently posted 1-6 without reply in the space of six minutes and this was enough to secure a third consecutive victory in the competition.

While Colin Currie was their scorer-in-chief with a grand total of nine points, Donal Burke, AJ Murphy and substitute Kieran Murphy also chipped in with handsome tallies. Dublin senior footballer Con O'Callaghan was a livewire presence for Cuala, registering five points from play over the course of the contest.

The Dalkey outfit also had strong performers in Seán Moran and Liam Murphy, but team manager Willie Maher will possibly look to shore up his defence as they move forward into the knockout rounds. Following their previous successes over Thomas Davis and Setanta, both sides were already assured of places in the last-eight.

Nevertheless, there was a competitive edge to the game from the outset with no fewer than 12 scores accumulated in the first-quarter. Diarmuid ó Floinn and Liam Murphy were on target for Cuala either side of a similar effort from Na Fianna's Seán Currie.

Roving

The northsiders' roving defender Seán Baxter shook the opposition net in fine style on five minutes, only for Cuala to wipe out their lead courtesy of David Treacy's quickfire brace.

Na Fianna pulled two points clear with unanswered singles from Donal Burke and Colin Currie but with O'Callaghan and Treacy combining to good effect, the teams were inseparable at the commencement of the first water break. Cuala finally edged in front thanks to another O'Callaghan special and despite Colin Currie converting two frees at the far end, Treacy and Liam Murphy kept the scoreboard ticking over for the holders.

Yet Na Fianna gathered significant momentum as the half drew to a close - AJ Murphy, Seán Murphy, Baxter and Colin Currie contributing four points in quick succession. Baxter's runs from deep were causing countless problems for the Cuala rearguard and he released AJ Murphy for a clinical stoppage-time goal.

This helped Na Fianna to establish a 2-11 to 0-12 interval cushion, placing them on the brink of another morale-boosting win. In his final act before being withdrawn, Treacy recorded his sixth point on the restart to keep Cuala in the running.

An outstanding Colin Currie score from the left-wing restored calm in the Na Fianna ranks, though Cuala duo Niall Carty and Liam Murphy (free) kept them on high alert. Murphy's latest free was sandwiched in between Currie's two-point salvo and when O'Callaghan and Mark Schutte raised additional white flags, the pendulum appeared to be swinging in Cuala's favour.

This was the cue for Donal Burke and Na Fianna to underline their ambitions for the season. The highly-rated attacker had been largely curtailed up to this stage, but he emerged from the second half water break as a galvanised figure.

He delivered a devastating 1-1 blitz in swift fashion and, after Seán Currie dissected the uprights on the run, Burke added another point for the rampant Na Fianna. Replacement Kieran Murphy proceeded to grab two points in the space of 60 seconds and with AJ Murphy also finding the range, the tie appeared to be beyond Cuala's reach.

Moran fired past Na Fianna netminder Jonathan Tracey to raise the spirits of his side and he also drilled home a free at the tail end of the action. This was a mere consolation for the seven-time winners and with Shane Barrett, Colin Currie and Kieran Murphy all on hand to post preceding scores, Na Fianna triumphed in consummate style.

SCORERS - Na Fianna: C Currie 0-9 (6f), D Burke 1-3, AJ Murphy 1-2, S Baxter 1-1, K Murphy 0-3, S Currie 0-2, S Barrett, E McHugh, S Murphy 0-1 each. Cuala: S Moran 2-1 (1-0f), D Treacy 0-6 (3f), Con O'Callaghan 0-5, L Murphy 0-4 (2f), D O Floinn 0-2, M Schutte, N Carty 0-1 each. NA FIANNA: J Tracey; S Baxter, K Burke, H Fenlon; F Breathnach, S Barrett, P O'Dea; M Quilty, C McHugh; E McHugh, S Murphy, D Burke; S Currie, AJ Murphy, C Currie. Subs: K Murphy for S Murphy (47), M Oliver for Quilty (50), C Kelly for Barrett (60), D O Maoileidigh for C McHugh (63). CUALA: S Brennan; S Timlin, Cian O'Callaghan, S Moran; J Sheanon, D O'Connell, J Malone; C Cronin, S Treacy; D Treacy, D O Floinn, L Murphy; M Schutte, Con O'Callaghan, M Conroy. Subs: N Carty for D Treacy (32), C Sheanon for Murphy (55). REF: S McCarthy (St Vincent's).