Mearnog push Brigid's all the way in tough opener
IT was always going to be a tough ask for Naomh Mearnog to come up against a side who played Division 1 hurling last year.
Brigids bring with them a huge reputation and resources, but nonetheless it took a good piece of opportunism from their corner forward to pop up with the winning score with 10 minutes to go.
Brigids had applied pressure on the home side throughout and as Fingal defender Niall Feeney tried to clear, a Brigids player put in a block before racing clear for what proved to be the decisive goal of the game.
Mearnog went into this game without some key players, most notably Davy Byrne (he has decided to travel for the year), while Shane Ryan is still trying to recover from a troublesome back injury that cut short his Dublin career two seasons ago.
And also missing two key defenders in John Terry and John Owens, Mearnog manager Paddy Gorey was forced to rejig his defence, which saw Mark Shaw handed a debut at left half back. Shaw was one of two new players to be handed starts on the day along with Eamon McFadden and Gorey was fulsome of his praise for the duo afterwards.
'I thought the two were excellent and particularly Mark. For a young lad playing senior for the first time he did exceptionally well.'
Brigids certainly thought quickly on their feet, and while frees from Aidan Kenny and Gary De Loughrey had kept the home side well in the hunt, Brigids - courtesy of a rather fortuitous first-half goal - went in at half-time leading 1-9 to 0-8.
Prior to that Mearnog had blazed across the face of the goal, but the second half with Daire Plunkett and Paddy Rohan to the fore for Brigids and they maintained their lead before Pa Jo Reale gave Mearnog some hope with a goal from close in with a few minutes to go.
Brigids eventually held out for the win, but Gorey was nonetheless happy with his team's opening display.
'I thought the lads put in a hell of an effort. Brigids put us under pressure, but they are a big outfit and they have a lot of good players. They are going to be a tough nut to crack.
'There will be a lot of twists and turns in that league and there will be a lot of interesting results as the year goes on.'
Naomh Mearnog: Colm Punch, Neil O'Driscoll, Niall Feeney, Gar O'Driscoll, Daithi O Donoghue, Mick O'Donoghue, Mark Shaw, Ciaran Watters, Simon Fallon, Cillian O Driscoll, Brian Powell, Gary De Loughrey 0-2, Brendan Kennedy, Aidan Kenny 0-9, Eamon McFadden. Subs used: Pa Jo Reale 1-0, David Lenihan, Donnacha Crowe, Michael Callinane, Eamon Tuohy.