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Fingallian’s Conor Byrne and Naomh Mearnog’s Mark Phelan

Fingallian’s Conor Byrne and Naomh Mearnog’s Mark Phelan

Fingallian’s Conor Byrne and Naomh Mearnog’s Mark Phelan

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Parnell Park is turning into something of an annual trip for Fingallians after Saturday’s win over Mearnog saw them reach their third consecutive county final.

For Fingallians manager Ryan O’Dwyer it will be a case of keeping his squad grounded as they prepare for their crunch clash with Erin’s Isle in the decider the weekend after next.

“We got to a county final last year and got beat and it’s hard to recover from them. And while we are back in the final, there’s still a lot to do. We got over today, but just about,” said the former Dublin hurler following his side’s four-point win over Naomh Mearnog in Lawless Park.

Saturday’s encounter was the fourth meeting of these sides in the last two years, with Mark Cullen’s second-half goal in the second half proving the decisive score in the end.

Their four-point win avenged their defeat to the defending champions in the group stages last month, although O’Dwyer believed there is better to come from his charges.

“I think we played much better the first time we played them up there, but look, you learn something from every game.”

Saturday’s clash saw both teams field different starting line-ups and for O’Dwyer it proved a mixed blessing.

“We were down a few players, they were down two players to mark in particular, and we had highlighted them to man mark and before the throw in we realised they weren’t playing.

“That threw us off, but at the same we were delighted they weren’t there.”

For Mearnog manager Enda Hoey defeat was hard to swallow, but despite the loss of two key forwards in Diarmuid Keavey and Arthur Crean, the Clare man was making no excuses for the outcome.

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“We were missing two players today, but it’s been a balancing act all year and I suppose it was the same for Fingallians too. And look, at the end of the day the 15 lads who took to the field for us were fit to play.”

And despite defeat, Hoey was proud of his charges.

“Really I couldn’t fault any of the lads, but as I said the best team win championship matches.

“And it’s been a decent championship for us. We’ve got the Under-21 championship next weekend and it’s going to be a challenge to get some of the lads back out for that.”

As for O’Dwyer, it’s a case of going one better than last year and proving a few doubters wrong.

“Probably if there was promotion/relegation last year we would have been favourites to get relegated because we were coming up from Junior A.

“But we got to a final and a lot of people were saying that what with Covid and whatever teams weren’t at full strength, but we kind of proved them wrong this year.”


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