herald

Thursday 17 January 2019

saints sublime

St Sylvester's0-14 Civil Service0-8

St Sylvester's produced a dominant opening half to deservedly overcome Civil Service by six points in their Dublin Junior 'B' Football Championship Final at Parnell Park last Saturday afternoon.

Their victory looked assured by the interval as they had assumed control from the early stages but a strong comeback from Civil Service upon the restart ensured a nervy enough conclusion for the Malahide outfit.

However, that their victory was well-merited is inarguable, given the ease with which they came upon scores - which contrasted with their opponents, who struggled to make an impression in attack for the large part.

There were many key personnel for the Malahide outfit over the hour but the contributions of both Paul Connolly and Niall Kelly in the St Sylvester's forward line were pivotal in such a low-scoring affair.

Threat

The lively duo shared nine points in total, including seven scores from play, and it was Connolly who served an early notice of his threat with a cracking point off his left boot in the opening minute.

Another score from the corner-forward arrived soon after as he showed great composure to curl another fine effort on target from 30 yards.

With the tireless Kevin Casey dragging the Civil Service defence into uncomfortable positions, Connolly was able to extend his side's lead in the fifth minute after a foul on Casey.

Dual player Kevin O'Flynn and Conor Meaney were enjoying a strong showing at centrefield initially and the latter increased his side's advantage when slotting over two minutes later as Sylvester's dominated the early stages.

However, Syls were indebted to goalkeeper Ciaran Murray in the ninth minute as he raced from his line to deny Paudie Kiely after an enterprising run from deep by the impressive wing-back.

Sortie

It proved a rare sortie into enemy territory for the Islandbridge-based club and their arrears grew greater after Dan McEvoy had converted a '45' in the 13th minute.

The work ethic of the Sylvester's attack was placing huge pressure on the Civil Service defence as they struggled at times to break free but gradually they found their feet, largely thanks to the intelligent runs of corner-forward Noel O'Riordan.

His fine solo score in the 14th minute eventually opened his side's account and his determination and skill ensured a second point arrived two minutes later as Civil Service enjoyed a mini purple patch of their own.

A booming score from midfielder Declan McNicholas should have maintained their momentum but a couple of wides allowed St Sylvester's to regroup with full-back Graham Morris a calming and assured presence throughout.

Crucially, Kelly replied for St Sylvester's with a sublime point from distance and that score was followed by consecutive points by Connolly and McEvoy as Declan McGrath's team enjoyed a healthy 0-8 to 0-3 interval lead.

That margin was extended within 10 seconds of the resumption as Kelly raced unopposed down the middle to land a classy score and a McEvoy free within three minutes looked to have taken the game away from Civil Service.

However, with Neil Corkery, Kiely and Derek Tansey beginning to influence proceedings, the encounter became more competitive and despite the concession of a point to substitute Conor Mullarkey, Civil Service responded through a brace of frees from Tansey and Corkery's excellent effort from open play.

The composure evident in Syls' play up until that point was marked absent as they struggled to make inroads into their opponents' half but as time moved on, it became increasingly evident that the goal required to ignite Civil Service's comeback would prove elusive.

Glorious

Despite being largely starved of possession in the second half, Connolly highlighted his class when kicking a glorious point in the 58th minute to reaffirm his side's ascendancy.

Kelly followed suit soon after with the wing-forward notching his third point of the day and, fittingly, the last score belonged to Connolly in added time, with his well-struck '45' confirming a noteworthy and merited success for St Sylvester's.

Scorers - St Sylvester's: P Connolly 0-6 (1f, 1 '45'); N Kelly, D McEvoy (2f, 1 '45') 0-3 each; C Meaney, C Mullarkey 0-1 each. Civil Service: D Tansey 0-3 (2f); N O'Riordan, N Corkery (1f) 0-2 each; D McNicholas 0-1.

St Sylvester's: C Murray; D Greenan, G Morris, R Kirrane; D Zeleke, A Kavanagh, K Lynott; K O'Flynn, C Meaney; D Markey, K O'Flynn, N Kelly; P Connolly, D McEvoy, K Casey. Subs: C Mullarkey for Meaney and C Ó Scaolaí for Markey (41), D Keaney for Kirrane (54), P Gibney for McEvoy (56), D McGrath for Zeleke (60+2).

Civil Service: T Cassidy; P Crowley, B Canning, B O'Sullivan; P Kiely, K Caffrey, M McCourt; D McNicholas, N Corkery; J Flynn, D Tansey, C Smith; D Donnelly, S Kelly, N O'Riordan. Subs: M Reynolds for Donnelly (29), N Kelly for O'Sullivan, E O'Neill for McNicholas and G Revins for Kelly (60+2).

Mentors - St Sylvester's: Declan McGrath, Shane Cowley, Traolach O'Donnell. Civil Service: John Gaffney, Ciaran O'Hara, Tom Molan.

Referee: Chris Mooney (St Patrick's Palmerstown).

Wides - St Sylvester's: 6 (2+4). Civil Service: 6 (4+2).

Conditions: A slight breeze but generally ideal for football.

Player of the Game: Paul Connolly (St Sylvester's).

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