Na FIANNA delivered an impressive second-half performance to eventually get the better of Trinity Gaels by ten points in their Dublin Intermediate Football Championship second round encounter at Parnell Park last Friday night.
It was a far from complete display by the Glasnevin outfit but they showed sporadic glimpses of their attacking potential after the break to pull away from their determined opponents.
A strong breeze in Donnycarney spoiled the game as a spectacle for large parts of the opening half as both teams made numerous shooting and handling errors but the quality improved significantly upon the resumption with both teams kicking some wonderful scores.
It was Na Fianna's ability to take advantage of the goal chances that came their way that ultimately proved the difference between the teams with both Colin Ryan and Eoin Darling landing two goals apiece to put the tie beyond their opponents.
In contrast, the Donaghmede outfit created a number of gilt-edged opportunities over the duration but lacked the killer instinct over the hour to benefit from some decent approach play throughout.
Despite Trinity Gaels' Eiven Whelan converting a long-distance free in the opening minute, it was a far from fluid opening from either team and after Thomas Connell had missed a couple of presentable chances at the opposite end, Gareth Ryan eventually restored parity for Na Fianna five minutes later.
With scores at a premium initially, Gaels regained their lead in the 12th minute through a Seán Boylan free before Na Fianna landed a decisive blow with the first score from play at the end of the first quarter.
Darling proved the creator on this occasion as he secured possession close to goal and his clever pass allowed Colin Ryan to fire an emphatic finish beyond James Lawlor from an acute angle.
Na Fianna were beginning to punch holes in the Trinity defence and it wasn't long before they stretched their lead thanks to Ciarán McCabe's fine point in the 17th minute.
However, that proved their final score of the half as Trinity Gaels dominated possession for the remainder of the half but that supremacy wasn't truly reflected on the scoreboard with Craig Reilly and Boylan missing goal chances that could have swung the tie in their favour.
They did manage a point apiece from the aforementioned duo however as they entered the break trailing narrowly by 1-2 to 0-4 but with their opponents having the benefit of the breeze after the break.
It wasn't long before Na Fianna regained control of affairs as Gareth Ryan clipped a fine score within a minute of the restart and in the 32nd minute, Darling had too much power for Adam Ryan as he cut inside to net from close range.
Scores were coming more freely at this stage with Ronan Monaghan and Colin Ryan trading fine points as the half progressed before the latter hammered another nail in the Trinity Gaels coffin when finding the net at the second attempt in the 36th minute.
Gareth Ryan and Neil Mulhern added further points for Na Fianna as the contest threatened to run away from Trinity but they received a lifeline in the 43rd minute in the form of centre-back Declan Conlon's goal when he reacted quickest to fire to the net from close range.
To their credit, Gaels continued to plug away in the forlorn hope of launching an unlikely comeback and their interest was maintained through points by midfielder Barry Curtin and Boylan.
However, those scores never looked likely to be sufficient against a Na Fianna team that was happy to absorb pressure before hitting on the counter-attack through Connell and Colin Ryan.
Despite centre-back Kieran Houlihan being dismissed for a second booking in the 58th minute for Na Fianna, there was still just enough time for Darling to put further gloss on the final scoreline with the best goal of the night as the contest moved into injury-time.
Scorers - Na Fianna: C Ryan 2-2, E Darling 2-0, G Ryan (0-2f), T Connell (0-3f) 0-3 each, C McCabe, N Mulhern 0-1 each. Trinity Gaels: S Boylan 0-4 (0-2f), D Conlon 1-0, B Curtin (f), C Reilly, E Whelan (f), R Monaghan, D Kelly 0-1 each.
Na Fianna: S Murray; D Kennedy, F Aughney, N Mulhern; S Dunne, K Houlihan, M Sheehan; J Dolan, J McGuirk; C Ryan, C McCabe, T Connell; M Cooper, E Darling, G Ryan. Subs: A Baxter for Kennedy (25), P Collins for Dolan (35), S Connell for G Ryan (40), C Dealy for McGuirk (43), N McKenna for Mulhern (52).
Trinity Gaels: J Lawlor; D Mongey, A Ryan, K Clifford; P Coyne, D Conlon, B Kettle; B Curtin, C Reilly; E Whelan, R Sheridan, R Monaghan; D Kelly, E McInerney, S Boylan. Subs: P Fennelly for Lawlor (38), S Flanagan for Clifford (45), C Guerin for Kettle (54, Black Card).
Mentors: Na Fianna: Kevin Bulman, Tom McKane, Harry O'Donnell, Pat Brennan. Trinity Gaels: Sé Given, David Sheridan, Liam Barr.
Referee: Anthony McAllister (Starlights)
Wides: Na Fianna 10 (5+5) Trinity Gaels 9 (8+1)
Conditions: Dry but windy.
Player of the Game: Colin Ryan (Na Fianna)