SKERRIES Harps survived a late Sylvester's flourish to win out in this first round opener played in Skerries on Saturday.
St Sylvesters were adamant that they should have been awarded a penalty instead of a free in the closing stages, but ultimately two missed goal chances by Syls approaching half time proved costly as Skerries composure in front of the posts made all the difference. Encouragingly all but one of the Skerries team is eligible again next year and with a Division 2 semifinal to come for the seniors against Round Towers Clondalkin, these are definitely exciting times for the club. Dublin under-21s Harry Dawson and Jack Smith were on song on the day for the home side, the former opening his team's account inside the first minute.
Alan Foy, having recently broken into Gabriel Bannigan's senior championship squad, then registered a good point on the run to level proceedings before a good pass by Robbie Ferguson into Shane Hickey won a free for Skerries. Dawson converted with Hickey then pointing off Paul Cashman's break to double his side's advantage. And although Fionn Cahill was to counter with a free at the clubhouse end, Cashman then turned over the Sylvesters defence to set up a free for Dawson, 0-4 to 0-2. Hickey was then to put a goal between the sides before Sylvesters corner foward Mark Finnerty dragged his shot across the face of the goal. Brian Shalloe also had a chance for Sylvesters shortly after that with Sylvesters keeper, Collie Burke, then tipping over an effort by Robbie Ferguson.
Cahill then finished off the half with a point to make it 0-6 to 0-3 but Skerries then doubled their advantage straight after the turnaround when Dawson collected a long ball before driving low past the keeper. But Sylvesters were awarded a penalty straight after when Mark Finnerty was felled but Alun Cullinan was on hand to turn Gavan McArdle's kick around the posts. Dawson continued his impressive form with another well taken point but 2011 Dublin minor, Conor Meaney pushed into the full forward line, Sylvesters then began to make a bit of headway. A point apiece by Meaney and Alan Foy each side of back to back scores from Ferguson and Smith still left seven between the sides but Syls were then back in business when they hit their opponents for two quick goals with five minutes to go. First Cahill had drilled high into the net despite the best effort of Cullinan with Cillian O Flynn then getting a fist to long ball to put just a point between the two. Skerries however showed their maturity with Dawson pointing well under pressure before taking a pass off Smith to put a goal between the sides.
Eoin Boyne was then to venture up from the centre back position to put two between the sides and then came the controversial decision when Fionn Kearney was fouled by a Skerries player with a minute go. It was both Carney's and the Sylvesters management's contention that the full back was fouled inside the square but all that came of it was a free. And although Fionn Cahill's shot was well struck, Eoin McGinley was on hand to clear the shot off the line.
SKERRIES HARPS: Alun Cullinan, Eoin McGinley, Aidan Keogh, Neil McConvey, Conor Garrett, Rory Newsholme, Dylan McNamee, Mark Boylan, Jack Smith 0-1, Robbie Ferguson 0-2, Shane Hickey 0-2, Denis Forde, Conor Mulvihille, Paul Cashman., Harry Dawson 1-6(2f) Replacements: Damien Ward, Eoin Smith, Oisin O Leary
ST SYLVESTERS: Collie Burke, Niall Higgins, Fionn Carney, John Peacock, Glen Hazely, Eoin Boyne 0-1, Max Cassidy, Gavan McArdle, Mark Meagher, Conor Meaney 0-1, Alan Foy 0-2 (0-1f), Brian Shalloe, Kevin Clarke, Fionn Cahill 1-2 (0-1f) Max Finnerty. Subs: Cian O Flynn 1-0, Graham Morris.