Signs of hope for Mearnog despite defeat
SOMETIMES the performance outweighs the result and certainly Naomh Mearnóg manager Paddy Gorey couldn't have faulted his team for effort and workrate in this engaging league fixture at Torcaill on Saturday.
Still, this latest reversal leaves the Portmarnock outfit still without a win after three games, and heading into their championship opener with Kilmacud Crokes at the end of month the Fingal men will be keen to get into a winning mode soon.
The messages from the two opposing dugouts best illustrated the state of the game entering its closing stages. For Oliver Plunketts, calls of 'hook and block' were countered by 'get the ball in quick' from the Mearnóg bench.
Shane Ryan's introduction mid-way through the second half (Plunketts led by four at that stage) underlined Mearnóg's need for a target man. The former Dublin hurler has been struggling with a back injury which has curtailed his involvement with the club over the past two seasons.
Ryan can still invoke fear within the hearts of the opposition, but sadly the former footballing All Star just didn't see enough of the ball on the day.
Mearnóg had won some good possession out near the middle of the field, where Gary De Loughrey impressed, but the Plunketts half back line were subsequently able to clear the ball back up the field.
And with Niall Murray giving Plunketts that extra impetus in attack after the restart, they were the dominant side, with former Dublin hurler Stuart Mullen very much to the fore for the Cabra men.
Mearnóg had showed good intensity in the first half, despite losing Niall Feeney to a hamstring injury in the opening minutes. The half forwards worked particularly hard closing down the opposition after Plunketts had registered an early goal through Colin Heffernan.
With Pa Jo Reale registering a good point on the turn, Mearnóg were then to score twice off turned-over possession through Aidan Kenny and Cillian O'Driscoll to edge a point in front, but Mullen's presence at centre forward was to see Plunketts back on level terms at the break, 0-6 to 1-3.
Scores from Kenny and O'Driscoll each side of a Mullen free would see Mearnóg back in front, but the pendulum began to swing back in Plunketts' favour from there on in. Mullen was again Plunketts' scorer in chief as his team posted four points without a reply.
Simon Fallon would post a score for Mearnóg with 14 minutes to go, but that was their last of the game and a point from wide out on the left from Oisin Boland was to prove an important one for Plunketts.
With the clock winding down, Mearnóg now needed goals, but Joseph McDonnell was twice on hand to block efforts from Fallon and Ryan as Plunketts closed the game out with two further scores from Mullen.
Naomh Mearnóg: Colm Punch, Gar O Driscoll, John Terry, John Owens, Niall Feeney, Niall O Driscoll, Michael O Callaghan, Mick O Donoghue, Ciaran Watters, Gary De Loughrey, Cillian O Driscoll 0-2, Aidan Kenny 0-5 (0-3f), Brian Powell, Pa Jo Reale 0-1 Brendan Kennedy. Subs: Shane Nangle for Feeny, Shane Ryan for Pa Jo Reale, Simon Fallon 0-1 for Brian Powell, Shane Tiernan for Kennedy.