McHugh stars for Na Fianna
Na Fianna 1-28 Whitehall Colmcille 0-20 - Dublin SHC Group 2
Na Fianna got their Dublin Senior Hurling Championship Group 2 campaign up and running with a laboured 11-point victory over Whitehall Colmcille at Parnell Park last night.
It was only in the concluding ten minutes that the eventual winners got to grips with their brave opponents with Peter Feeney scoring a 57th minute goal to effectively settle the issue in favour of the St Mobhi Road men.
Prior to Na Fianna's late scoring flourish there was nothing between these northside rivals in a see-saw battle.
Whitehall Colmcille were handed an early boost through an excellent Seán Gray point in the second minute but typical of what was to follow Na Fianna responded well thanks to scores by Dublin senior Donal Burke and Paul O'Dea.
The half remained similarly tight with scores traded at regular intervals and that was reflected in the sides never being separated by more than a point up until the 25th minute as Whitehall Colmcille edged two points clear after two cracking scores by midfielder Daire Gray.
In the sixth minute, Seán Gray, the half's most impressive performer, added another superb point from deep with Colmcille edging a point clear soon after following Cathal Ryan's score.
With Eoghan O'Donnell doing a fine man-marking job on Dublin colleague Donal Burke, Whitehall looked the more assured team in the first-half, admittedly with a decent breeze at their backs and scores from both Seán Gray and Daire Gray inched them 0-6 to 0-5 clear by the end of the first quarter.
Feargal Breathnach fired over a brace of points to keep Na Fianna in touch but Whitehall were economical and clinical when chances came their way and a classy point from Dublin footballer Cormac Costello helped keep their noses in front.
The same could not be said for Na Fianna, who spurned two goal chances in the final ten minutes of the half with Donal Burke firing too close to Ronan Murray in the 25th minute while Colin Currie shot narrowly wide from ten metres entering injury time.
By then, Na Fianna's Seán Gray had landed two more points to help ensure a deserved 0-12 to 0-9 interval lead for last year's Senior 'B' finalists.
Having been so lethargic in the first-half, Na Fianna were transformed upon the restart with Shane Barrett far more prominent and after Gavin King and Seán Ryan had converted straightforward point chances, Eoghan McHugh added two points inside thirty seconds to hand his team the lead by the 35th minute.
Whitehall's response was as impressive as it was instant with Niall O'Connor, Costello and Seán Gray all scoring in quick succession to ensure the shoot-out quality of the contest remained intact.
However, their energy levels dipped at the death as Na Fianna eased home in comfortable enough fashion.
Scorers - Na Fianna: E McHugh 0-7, D Burke 0-6 (0-2f), C Currie 0-5 (0-3f), S Murphy, F Breathnach 0-3 each, P Feeney 1-0, G King, P O'Dea, S Ryan, S O'Sullivan 0-1 each. Whitehall Colmcille: S Gray 0-8 (0-4f), D Gray, N O'Connor 0-3 each, C Ryan, C Costello, P Spellacy 0-2 each.
Na Fianna: J Treacy; S Burke, C Fanning, C Kelly; S Barrett, J Boland, P Feeney; F Breathnach, P O'Dea; S Murphy, E McHugh, G King; D Burke, S Ryan, S Currie. Subs: S O'Sullivan for O'Dea (10, inj), AJ Murphy for S Murphy (52), C Doran for Fanning (54).
Whitehall Colmcille: R Murray; S Kellett, D Constantine, E O'Donnell; S Scallon, C Ryan, L Gannon; D Gray, L McCarthy; S Gray, N O'Connor, C McCarthy; C Ryan, P Spellacy, C Costello. Subs: N O'Donnell for C McCarthy (half-time), C Sheedy for L McCarthy (53).
REF: Thomas Gleeson (Naomh Fionnbarra).