Murphy magic fires na Fianna
Na Fianna 1-15 St Oliver Plunkett's/ER 1-9
Na Fianna produced a composed display as they deservedly accounted for a battling St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh by six points in their Dublin Junior 'D' Football Championship Final at Parnell Park last Saturday afternoon.
The victory raised spirits down St Mobhi Road way after the championship defeats suffered by both their senior and intermediate sides at the same venue less than 24 hours previously, and there was no doubting their dominance over the hour.
However, that the game remained in the balance for large parts was down to the courage shown by Plunkett's, who competed ferociously throughout and they may have enjoyed an interval lead but for some errant shooting on their behalf in the opening stages.
Ultimately, their inability to curb the influence of Na Fianna full-forward AJ Murphy proved their downfall with the dual player producing a performance of the highest quality throughout the hour.
The dual player accrued 1-6 in total with his clinically-taken goal in the 40th minute handing his side a sufficient cushion to withstand some late pressure by Plunkett's.
The standard of the attacking play was a feature of an enjoyable first half with Shane Lindsay opening Na Fianna's account after a well-worked team score in the third minute.
Their opponents restored parity with a glorious point from distance by the impressive Colin Fitzsimons within a minute, but Na Fianna enjoyed a purple patch for the ensuing six minutes as they added to their tally through Niall O'Connor and then extended their lead to four points after a trio of wonderful points by Murphy. However, their momentum stalled to a degree as Plunkett's added successive scores through Michael Byrne and Paul Kingston and their deficit was trimmed to the minimum thanks to David Sweeney's free in the 26th minute.
Na Fianna replied through a brace of scores on the bounce by Justin Egan and Eoin Behan but Plunkett's entered the break in fine spirits after Kieran Fitzgerald raced onto Byrne's tap-down before firing a clinical finish across Emmet Connolly in added time.
The momentum from that goal was maintained after the turnaround with Fitzsimons adding another fine score inside 40 seconds but Na Fianna seized control of the game from that point, blitzing their opponents for 1-4.
Andy Flaherty levelled matters with a 34th-minute free and with Murphy and Flaherty adding further scores from placed balls, Na Fianna made their control tell when Murphy kicked another excellent point in the 38th minute.
The game's defining score arrived two minutes later as substitute John Sharpson made a telling incision through the Plunkett's defence and Murphy was on hand to crash home past the helpless John Turley from close range.
Alan Buckley replied for Plunkett's after another fine run from deep, but increasing gaps in their defence allowed both Ciarán Heeney and Murphy to extend their side's lead with Sweeney cutting the gap to six points.
Na Fianna came under increased pressure for the final stages but Liam Burns and Diarmuid Murphy controlled the central areas well and despite Sweeney and Fitzgerald tagging on scores near the end, a more polished Na Fianna outfit confirmed their deserved six-point win thanks to an excellent score from Sharpson.
Scorers - Na Fianna: AJ Murphy 1-6 (0-1f); A Flaherty 0-3 (3f); Ciaran Heeney, E Behan, N O'Connor, S Lindsay, J Sharpson, J Egan 0-1 each. St Oliver Plunkett's/ER: K Fitzgerald 1-1; D Sweeney 0-3 (2f); C Fitzsimons 0-2; A Buckley, P Kingston, M Byrne (f) 0-1 each.
Na Fianna: E Connolly; C Dolan, L Burns, L Flaherty; E Campbell, D Murphy, C Hanton; Cillian Heeney, S Murphy; E Behan, Ciarán Heeney, N O'Connor; A Flaherty, AJ Murphy, S Lindsay. Subs: B Shanahan for O'Connor and J Sharpson for Lindsay (half-time), C Baxter for Behan (44), C Reilly for Campbell (55), S Cummins for Flaherty (59).
St Oliver Plunkett's/ER: J Turley; C Finn, S O'Neill, M Smith; A Buckley, P Kingston, B Breen; D Sweeney, J Kelleher; J Dalton, K Fitzgerald, C Fitzsimons; B Prendergast, M Byrne, P O'Dea. Subs: J Rogers for Dalton (22), S Ecock for Prendergast and D Carolan for Kingston (38), C Cushion for Byrne (46), M Sheridan for Smith (47).
Mentors - Na Fianna: Andy Pyne. St Oliver Plunkett's/ER: Liam Ecock, Eoin Brennan, Brian Connolly, Paul O'Neill, Clement Chevalier.
Referee: Peadar White (Man O' War)
Wides - Na Fianna: 5 (1+4); St Oliver Plunkett's/ER: 9 (6+3)
Conditions: A warm, still afternoon.
Player of the Game: AJ Murphy (Na Fianna).