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Play-off defeat a sore one for Fins

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Fingallians captain Ian Kennedy pictured with founder members of the club Tony Mills (left) and Colm Crowley following the team's victory over Erin's Isle in the Intermediate Hurling Championship decider.

Fingallians captain Ian Kennedy pictured with founder members of the club Tony Mills (left) and Colm Crowley following the team's victory over Erin's Isle in the Intermediate Hurling Championship decider.

Darragh Power's absence was keenly felt by Fingallians.

Darragh Power's absence was keenly felt by Fingallians.

Former Fingal player TJ Howard made a rare start for the Fingallians hurlers.

Former Fingal player TJ Howard made a rare start for the Fingallians hurlers.

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Fingallians captain Ian Kennedy pictured with founder members of the club Tony Mills (left) and Colm Crowley following the team's victory over Erin's Isle in the Intermediate Hurling Championship decider.

fingalindependent

CASTLEKNOCK1-23

FINGALLIANS2-20

AS the sun set on Sunday’s remarkable Leinster Intermediate Championship play-off in Lawless Park, Fingallians will be wondering how victory slipped from their grasp.

Six points up with 12 minutes to go, the newly crowned Intermediate champions saw their Leinster dreams cruelly slip away from them, with Cian Boyle writing his name in lights after converting the match-winning score in a penalty competition.

Sudden-death shootouts in hurling are few and far between, but an enthralled crowd stayed on to watch the drama unfolding.

Castleknock on the day were a bit more clinical in this department, while for Fingallians it was one of those days as Sean Hickey shot over the bar and Ben Stears saw an effort come back off the post.

It shouldn’t detract from what has been a terrific season for Fingallians, but all the same this left something of a bitter aftertaste.

Afterwards, their inspirational captain Ian Kennedy was bearing the scars in more ways than one.

A blow across the chest six minutes before the break had left the centre back on the ground, an offence which saw Castleknock’s full forward Niall O’Callaghan go straight to the line.

Kennedy spent the morning recovering with three cracked ribs and a punctured lung and needless to say everyone wishes him a speedy recovery.

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That Castleknock managed to overcome the loss of a man and a six-point deficit was down to a resilient second-half display.

Eoin Sawyer saw two efforts blocked in the closing stages, but his persistence paid off in a subsequent attack when he followed in to bring his team to within two points of the home side.

Then, with five minutes remaining, Fingallians had the chance to put the game beyond Castleknock’s reach. Gifted possession by the Castleknock defence, they spurned a golden opportunity in front of goal, and in the closing few minutes they were reeled in by successive points by Boyle - 1-16 to 1-16 at the end of normal time.

In a real ding-dong encounter, Fingallians struck first blood in the first minute of extra time when Micheal Rock connected with a long ball sent in by Danny Lynch.

However restored to their full complement of players in extra time, Castleknock had moved two points clear mid-way through the second period before points from Donagh Williams and Sean Hickey forced the dreaded 20-metre shoot out which Castleknock won.

Both sides had gone into the game with understrength squads, with Dublin Under-20 captain Darragh Power out with a hand injury he picked up during the Under-21 club championship.

Castleknock for their part were without Ciaran Kilkenny and former Dublin underage dual star Luke Swan.

Nonetheless there was still enough quality in evidence on both sides, with Mark Cullen finding the back inside the first minute after his shot had dipped under the crossbar at the last moment.

That three-point lead was preserved for the remained of the half as Fingallians, courtesy of some accurate free-taking from Eoin O’Connor, opened up a three-point lead.

But with Kennedy eventually forced to retired with 20 minutes to go, Fingallians were down their influential defender, although Shane Howard dropped back to shore the gap.

When TJ Howard, who was making a rare start up front for Fingallians, stretched their lead to six points on 48 minutes, it was certainly looking good for Ryan O’Dwyer’s men. However on a muddy pitch that bore the marks of a rather gloomy month, Fingallians slowly began to falter.

Rock’s goal offered them some respite in extra time, but ultimately they were unable to knock Castleknock off their perch.

Nonetheless, Fingallians will bounce back for sure - roll on 2022!

Fingallians: Shane Nolan, Alex Smith, David Fagan, Conor Byrne, Conal Shaw, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Lynch, Shane Howard, Darragh Foley, TJ Howard 0-1, Ben Stears 0-3, Eoin Howard 0-1, Eoin O’ Connor 0-7(0-6f) Sean Hickey 0-2, Mark Cullen 1-3. Subs: Cathal Lynch for Eoin O’Connor, Donagh Williams 0-3 for Kennedy, Ciaran Markey for Foley and Gavan Howard came on for TJ Howard, Michael Rock 1-0.


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