herald

Thursday 5 December 2019

little in way of drama as teams return to SFC1

Na Fianna’s James Doran reacts to a missed chance, as Ballymun’s James McCarthy looks on, during their Dublin SFC match last week
Na Fianna’s James Doran reacts to a missed chance, as Ballymun’s James McCarthy looks on, during their Dublin SFC match last week

And then there were eight.

Following a number of variable quality encounters over last Friday and Saturday, the dust has settled leaving an octet of contenders all with ambitions of landing the coveted Clery Cup later this autumn.

Some of those ambitions may well be more optimistic than others and while there was an element of blowing off the cobwebs in terms of some of the collective performances, the quality is sure to improve when the quarter-finals take place the weekend after next.

Parnell Park was the place to be on Friday evening for the heavyweight clash between Na Fianna and Ballymun Kickhams and while the attacking play of both teams left a lot to be desired, the quality of the defending shone throughout with scores proving at a premium throughout.

Ultimately, it was Na Fianna's ability to finish on the front foot that made the difference by the final whistle as their youthful attack revelled in the greater space being afforded to them.

James Doran was particularly influential during this period with the Dublin Under-20s player taking the game away from Ballymun with his four- point contribution in the second-half the decisive contribution in their team's 0-13 to 0-8 success.

Na Fianna's reward for that victory is a mouth-watering quarter-final against a Ballyboden St Enda's team that once again showcased its attacking talent when easing past Skerries Harps by 2-20 to 0-6 on Saturday afternoon.

Many see the Firhouse Road outfit as the main competition to holders Kilmacud Crokes with the forward play of Ryan Basquel, Ross McGarry and Collie Basquel a key part of manager Anthony Rainbow's game plan.

Whether they can exert the same influence against a Na Fianna defence that impressed against Ballymun will be central to their ambitions in what looks the pick of the last eight ties.

Kilmacud will be fancied to overcome Clontarf and the holders looked sharp when accounting for St Sylvester's by 2-19 to 1-10 on Friday night.

They may well have been without both Paul Mannion and Cian O'Sullivan but have more than enough depth to to withstand those absentees with Pat Burke and Callum Pearson in sparkling form up front.

Clontarf will have little issue with being tagged as the underdogs for that clash but they will still enjoy sufficient confidence to take into the game after their impressive 1-17 to 1-10 win over Lucan Sarsfields on Saturday.

With Andy Foley, Kevin Lillis and Jack McCaffrey leading the way, they remain a lively prospect for any opponent.

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