IT was one of those days for St Sylvester's as they endured more heartache in Sunday's Division 1 top four final in Balgriffin. After a muddy encounter against Kilmacud Crokes in the championship last month, Syls were thankful for a playable pitch, but once again a scrappy goal put paid to their hopes.
NA FIANNA 1-11 ST SYLVESTER'S 1-10
There were moments of high drama, most notably when the Malahide men had a goal ruled out with just seconds to go. The incident sparked a furious protest from the Sylvesters line before the goal was given by O'Dwyer's referee Garyowen McMahon. That put a point between the sides but alas time ran out for the Syls, and with that their 2012 ended on a something of a disappointing note. Nonetheless with newly appointed Dublin manager, Jim Gavan, watching from the touchline, there were certainly some good displays. Na Fianna full back Niall McGovern grew in confidence as the game wore on holding Miceál McCarthy to just one point although some felt the number three was perhaps at times given too much latitude by the officials. The big plus for Bannigan was the display of former Offaly midfielder John Coughlan who after a frustrating season with injury was one of the big game changers on the day. 'I thought John made a big impact when he came on and certainly looks to be back to his best,' Bannigan said. 'Overall I would have been disappointed to have finished the season without a trophy but the lads need to draw on that hurt for next year.' And the former Monaghan inter county player believes that Sylvester's slow start was to prove costly in the end. 'To give them a five point lead so early on made it very tough for us, but I thought we were the better team after that. 'The goal we conceded I wasn't particularly happy with, I thought it should have been a free out, and I thought we would have won but for that. 'But overall we have progressed very well as a team. Eoin Boyne has done very well in his first season up in senior while Aidan Lawlor and Glen Hazely, who I thought had an excellent game at wing back, have done exceptionally well for us.' Na Fianna bossed the early exchanges with wing back, Eoin Connolly twice registering points either side of a score from Tomás Brady. And while Darren Clarke sent over a free at the other end, Na Fianna continued to work the Syls defence hard with a well-worked point from Joey Boland the pick of another series of scores from the Glasnevin men. That was to put Na Fianna five points up but Sylvesters then began to turn the game around in the second quarter with Nigel Dunne and McCarthy both raising the white flag. Successive frees from Clarke then put the bare minimum between the sides but following a free from Paddy Quinn, Connolly was on hand to convert his third score of the morning as Na Fianna went in at half time leading 0-8 to 0-5. A Clarke free sandwiched between scores from Boland and Quinn saw Syl's fall further behind before some good tactical play from McCarthy set up a free for Clarke. Nigel Dunne curled in a terrific point from the left and with Louth forward, Mark Brennan, working hard, Syls continued to keep the pressure on. Nonetheless a free from Adam Caffrey kept Na Fianna in front and they then struck for a goal with seven minutes to go. A long ball was sent into the square and in the ensuing skirmish, Paddy Quinn scrambled the ball over the line to put four between the sides. However, moments later Syls were back in the game when a free sent in by Alan Foy was fisted home by Coughlan. Initially ruled out, the ref ordered the green flag to be raised, but it wasn't to be for Syls as Na Fianna held on for the victory.
Robbie Wallace; Aidan Lawlor, Brian Sexton, Ronan Walsh; Gavan McArdle, Kian Cleere, Glen Hazley; Ross Hazley, Padraig Bracken; Russell Cleere, Mark Brennan, Eoin Fanning; Miceál McCarthy 0-1, Nigel Dunne 0-2, Darren Clarke 0-7f. Subs: Dave Galvin for Walsh half time; Aidan Relihan for Fanning (39); Alan Foy for Russell Cleere (45); John Coughlan 1-0 for Ross Hazley (47); Conor Daly for McCarthy (51).