Finian's prevail in high-scoring battle of the saints
ST SYLVESTER'S missed the opportunity to claim a draw in the last minute of this Under 16 Division 6 football thriller at Rivervalley last Saturday after a moment of madness.
In the penultimate play of the game, Shane Cronin won a free in an advantageous position for the Malahide team, only to slam the ball down fiercely in front of the referee even though the decision had gone in his side's favour.
The official deemed the protestations to be too strong, changed his mind on awarding the free and St Finian's were let off the hook.
Cronin, incidentally, had scored two very good points in the first half and it was a disappointing end to a fantastic game in which both sides can be very proud of their contributions.
Sylvester's led by seven points with eight minutes to go, but the home side fought back and trailed by just two with a couple of minutes left on the clock. Finian's were then awarded a free kick and up stepped Conor Lennon to blast a shot to the net through a wall of Sylvester's players who were standing on the line guarding the goal.
It was perhaps fitting that Lennon should get the final score in a pulsating game in which he excelled throughout. Along with Conor Halpin, he carried the main attacking threat for the Swords outfit and between them they managed to bag 1-14 of their team's scores.
Sylvester's had some excellent performers too, especially Sean Foley, a grandson of the late Dublin GAA legend Lar Foley. Foley scored three excellent goals in the second half, with the third in particular a thing of beauty, after a flowing move involving a number of players from one end of the pitch to the other.
Surprisingly, that score proved to be Sylvester's last as the hosts came on strongly in the closing stages.
Sylvester's went in at the break trailing 0-13 to 1-6, with Niall McCann getting their first goal after seven minutes. However, they started the second half with great determination and a couple of quality points from Kevin O'Toole, Richard Finnegan and Mark McCormack got them right back into the contest.
For the bulk of the game Sylvester's defended manfully, and their back line made some heroic clearances when St Finian's threatened to snatch a three-pointer.
Finian's and Sylvester's went into the game the last of the season - fourth and fifth respectively, with Finian's three points ahead in the table before the start of play. And following this victory, Brendan Lennon and Tommy McMenamon's team will now go into a play-off comprising the top four teams to decide who wins the league.
On the evidence of this performance, Finian's won't go down easily and will push any opponent all the way.
St Finian's: Lee Kavanagh, Rob Emmett 0-1, Conor White, Conor Lennon 1-6, Sean White, Killian Ryan, Eoin Murray 0-2, James Sullivan 0-2, James Sherlock 0-1, Cillian O'Connor, Conor Halpin 0-8, Darragh Collier, Gavin Conway, Adam O'Shaughnessy, Matt Murray.
St Sylvester's: Liam Sweeney, Ciaran Casey, Brian Shiel, Harry Doyle, Niall McCann 1-0, Ben Ryder 0-1, Sean Dowling, Cathal Haughey, Mark McCormack 0-1, Niall Duffy, Sean Foley 3-2, Kevin O'Toole 0-3, Richard Finnegan 0-1, Shane Cronin 0-2, Chris Butler. Subs: Cathal O'Hara, Liam Waterhouse.