Fast-finishing 'Davis' blow Mearnog away
AHL 3: Thomas Davis 2-20 Naomh Mearnog 1-12
Thomas Davis turned in an impressive display away to an understrength Naomh Mearnog side at Torcaill on Wednesday evening to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Mearnog, missing their two former Dublin minors in Tommy Kinnane and Cian Hendricken, relied heavily on the scoring of full forward Davy Byrne on the night as the home side tapered off with 10 minutes remaining.
A Byrne score from the left had them just two points adrift of the Tallaght men at that stage, but crucially they failed to score in the remaining period as Thomas Davis were bolstered by the accuracy of free-taker Kevin Ward.
Mearnog were like shooting ducks as Davis fired over 1-6 without reply during that spell, with corner forward David Byrne grabbing his second goal of the night with five minutes remaining as the visitors picked off their seventh win of the season.
The result now leaves Naomh Mearnog struggling to make the play-offs but there were some encouraging displays on the night.
Ciaran Watters, after a lengthy spell away, was a pivotal figure at corner forward, while John Owens was in his element at corner back and also helped launch several Mearnog attacks in the second half.
At the same time, an alert Thomas Davis side secured a number of turnovers, with Mearnog at times slow to clear their lines.
Nonetheless, on a dry evening at the Portmarnock venue, Mearnog raced into an early four-point lead, with Byrne converting two frees and a 65, before adding another free awarded in the aftermath of a terrific take by Watters.
Thomas Davis finally opened their account 12 minutes into the game, with the impressive Sean O'Brien then scoring from the right.
Mearnog, after being caught in possession, were then pulled up by the referee, with Ward on hand to land the resultant free, a feat he matched a few moments later to draw Thomas Davis level with six minutes to go in the half.
Ward added two more scores before Byrne ended Mearnog's 10-minute fruitless spell with back-to-back frees to level the game for the third time.
Crucially, though, Thomas Davis would outscore their hosts 1-2 to 0-1 in the remaining five minutes, the goal coming when Zak Moradis' initial strike took a deflection, with Byrne on hand to drive the loose ball low past the keeper. That left it 1-8 to 0-7 at the break, and while Moradi would open the second half with a point for Thomas Davis, Byrne - with two scores at the other end - left just a score between the sides.
Mearnog were then handed a lifeline eight minutes into the second half when Simon Fallon got on the end of a high ball from Brendan Kennedy to draw the sides level, 1-9 1-9.
The two teams exchanged scores, but crucially, with Mearnog a point behind, Byrne opted to drive for goal off a close-in free which was blocked on the line. Off the ensuing break, Sean Reilly, slotted over from half-way to double Thomas Davis' advantage.
Mearnog remained competitive, with Fallon a central figure as they twice reduced the Thomas Davis lead to a bare point.
However, the Portmarnock men ran out of steam after that, with Thomas Davis, now bossing the play in the middle third, sending over a number of quick scores to put the game to bed, among them a second major for David Byrne.
Naomh Mearnog: Ciaran Darcy, John Owens, Donal Lean, Gar O Driscoll, Marcus Fizmaurice, Shane Ryan, Mick O Donoughue, Stan Kinnane, Brian Powwell, Brian McCarthy, Arthur Crean, Simon Fallon 1-0, Ciaran Watters, Davy Byrne 0-12(0-7f, 0-1 65), Brendan Kennedy. Sub: Stephen James Kissane.