Five first-half goals set Sandyford side on the road to glory
Five goals in the opening half proved decisive as Naomh Olaf made home advantage pay with a twenty-one point victory over a brave Naomh Barróg in their Dublin Under 14 Hurling League Division 4 clash in Stepaside last Saturday afternoon.
The final margin was especially harsh on the visitors, who battled gamely throughout but the concession of goals at pivotal times proved their undoing over the 60 minutes.
Of course, Naomh Olaf were more than deserving winners with the inspiration provided by centre half-back Ciarán Foley, who adorned an imperious performance with three excellent goals, a feature of his side's comfortable success.
There were few indications that such a large gap would separate the sides from the initial promptings with both defences well on top in the early stages, despite Foley opening the scoring in the first minute with a classy point from play.
The hosts enjoyed a fair degree of possession from the outset but they struggled to make inroads on the scoreboard as the away defence dominated their individual opponents with corner-back Adam Kenny and full-back Rory McCarthy especially impressive.
A stalemate ensued with Barróg eventually drawing level in the 9th minute when the lively Seán Doyle converted a close-in free following a foul on Chris Reynolds.
Doyle doubled both his own and his team's tally with a cracking score off his left three minutes later but the tide began to turn in Naomh Olaf's favour a minute later as Cuán O'Sullivan's delivery deceived Scott Foy in the away goal for the game's opening goal.
That goal sparked a period of dominance for the hosts as O'Sullivan added a point at the end of the first quarter and Darragh O'Brien did likewise soon after before the highlight of the afternoon arrived in the 18th minute.
Almost inevitably, it came courtesy of Foley, who received possession in the middle third before embarking on a slaloming run that culminated in an unerring strike from fifteen yards that left Foy absolutely helpless in the away goal as it nestled in the left-hand corner of the net.
The Kilbarrack outfit improved briefly and they were rewarded through points by Eoin Hart and Doyle but the half ended in disappointment for them with Foley adding a brace of goals in the closing minutes to push Olafs 5-4 to 0-4 clear by the break.
It was a far tighter affair in the second-half but with goalkeeper Eoin Donnelly and full-back Harrison Byrne in fine form, the hosts were able to repel and Naomh Barróg pressure and they added to their lead thanks to points by Donal Leavy and Foley.
A sixth goal arrived in the 46th minute when O'Sullivan reacted quickest after Foy had denied substitute Jack Kennedy with the visitors gaining some consolation two minutes from time after a well-worked team score by Dáithí Geary.
Scorers - Naomh Olaf: C Foley 3-2 (0-1f), C O'Sullivan 2-2 (0-1f), A English 1-0, D Leavy 0-2, S Whelan, D O'Brien 0-1 each. Naomh Barróg: S Doyle 0-3 (0-2f), E Hart, D Geary 0-1 each.
Naomh Olaf: E Donnelly; C De Hóra, H Byrne, C Murtagh; L Scanlon, C Foley, S Cullinan; D Leavy, A English; D O'Brien, C Harrington, S Whelan; C O'Sullivan, D Morris, C Compton. Subs: D Naylor for Compton (19), C Harrison for Whelan (half-time), J Kennedy for Morris (38), R Faulkner for De Hóra (42), Whelan for O'Brien (49), O'Brien for Kennedy (58).
Naomh Barróg: S Foy; A Kenny, R McCarthy, C Simpson; S Alexander, N Hatton, G Lonegan; E Hart, S Kelly; D Geary, L Steward, S Doyle; D McCabe, C Reynolds, J Kennedy. Subs: C Forbes for Reynolds (24), J Craig for Kennedy (42).
Mentors - Naomh Olaf: James Whelan, Damian Murtagh, Maedhbh Ní Shé. Naomh Barróg: Joe Forbes, Brian Hart, Ronan Geary, Harry Fitzpatrick, Amanda Hutton, Linda Lonergan.
Referee: Alex Pilkington (Kilmacud Crokes)
Wides: Naomh Olaf 12 (4+8) Naomh Barróg: 6 (5+1)
Conditions: Relatively dry but strong crossfield breeze prevalent.
Player of the Game: Ciaran Foley (Naomh Olaf)