Fingallians win derby joust
GAA Club Hurling Championship: Fingallians 1-15 St Finian's S 0-15
When these two sides last met in the league two seasons ago, Fingallians came away from Ridgewood with a win, just about having prevailed by four points.
It would prove decisive in Fingallians' successful promotion push to Division 3.
Two seasons on much has changed. Both teams have dropped down a division, Finian's going down to the fifth tier last year, but as always the rivalry between the two remains the same.
Sunday's Junior Championship opener saw just a score between the sides in the end and Fingallians will be mightily relieved with the result, especially after Finian's corner forward Joel Hanna had spurned a gilt-edged goal chance with seven minutes to go at a time when Fins were up by five.
Overall, though, John Williams' team were deserving of their win on the day.
Almost a decade on from their Junior Championship win over Judes in Parnell Park, Fingallians are starting to come together as a team.
However, there is no substitute for experience and David Fagan, the only surviving member from that 2010 team, is a case in point. He excelled at full back on what was a clear spring morning in Lawless Park.
As well as providing cover to the half back line, he was a steady hand under the high ball for the home side. Equally, Ian Kennedy at centre back showed good distribution, while the mobile Paul Graves came into his own when dropping out to the middle in the second half.
It would be remiss not to mention the contribution of former Nicky Rackard All-Star Eoin O'Connor for Finian's. He gave an excellent performance off the placed ball as Finian's began to eat into Fingallians' seven-point lead.
It was certainly a gutsy comeback from the Rivervalley men, who had looked to be out of the game earlier on.
The two sides had traded a point apiece, with Barry Rodgers cancelling out an early O'Connor free, before the game entered a bit of a lull which saw Fingallians register four wides in as many minutes.
However, after O'Connor had restored the Finian's lead, Fingallians began to up their tempo and a good burst through the middle from Dublin underage player Shane Howard put the home side back on level terms.
That score would see Fingallians eventually post 1-6 without reply. The pick of those scores was an excellent point from far out on the left by Mark Smith. Then, with six minutes to go in the half, Smith would flick the ball past the keeper to open up an eight-point lead.
While O'Connor would keep the scoreboard ticking along for the visitors, Fingallians exerted good pressure up front, with scores each side of an O'Connor free from Howard and Sean Hickey leaving them up by 1-10 to 0-6 at the break.
However, with the aid of a strong breeze, Finian's began to make headway, with O'Connor hitting three points on the bounce which included an excellent score from half-way.
The influential Graves would reply with an angled point from the left, but moments later Finian's almost struck for a goal, only for Hanna to pull on a shot with only the keeper to beat.
They continued to go after Fingallians and successive frees from O'Connor would leave them just three points in arrears approaching full-time.
However, Fingallians did not buckle, with the in-form Howard winning a free in front of the posts which Graves converted to see his team over the line.
Elsewhere in the group Cuala were 2-16 to 0-15 winners away to Ballyboden, while St Judes also won on their travels - 2-18 to 0-14 against Commercials.
Fingallians: Shane Nolan, Alex Smith, David Fagan,Cian O BRady, Eoghan Brady, Ian Kennedy, Matthew Petheridge, Sean Hickey 0-1, Darragh Power, Barry Rodgers 0-3, Shane Howard 0-3, Derek Rodgers 0-1, Paul Graves 0-3(0-1f) ,Mark Smith 1-4. Subs: Ange de Tunde, TJ Howard
St Finian's S: Kevin Hammond, Mattie Murray, David Hattie, Eamon McGill, Jack Murray, Vinnie Folly, Ja O Loughlin, Fintan Merriman, Eoin O'Connor 0-14(0-13f) , Dominc Harris, James Burke 0-1, Adam O'Shaughnessy, Joel Hanna, Conor Halpin, Peter O Connor. Subs: Warren Hanley, Aran Grogan.