Mearnog test bridge too far for Wild Geese
GAA: Under-21 ‘C’ Hurling Championship - Nh Mearnog 2-15 Wild Geese 3-9
If proof was needed how far Wild Geese have come since hurling was established ten years ago, it came in Saturday's Under-21 'C' semi-final as Tom Smyth's team came to within a score of Naomh Mearnog at Oldtown.
This was a Mearnog team that featured several of the squad that had featured in this season's championship run that saw the Portmarnock outfit's Intermediate status restored.
As such this was always going to be a big step up for Wild Geese, but they showed tremendous fighting qualities and certainly the visitors would have been glad to come away with a win - albeit one they deserved on the day.
Of note was the inclusion of four Ballyboughal footballers on the Wild Geese team for the first time and evidence that hurling within Fingal is continuing to grow in popularity.
Jonahtan Rooney certainly left his mark on the game with a terrific effort into the roof of the Mearnog net in what was last action of the game.
That would leave six points between the sides and Mearnog were mightily relieved to hear the final whistle soon after.
That said, they are into the final - a second for the club this year - and after the disappointment of losing to St Maur's in the Junior A Final they will be keen to finish off the season with a trophy.
To the game itself, which had seen the two sides match each other score for score in the early stages. There was some fascinating duals on the field, with Jack Roberts and Mearnog's Dylan Kilbride involved in an intriguing tussle.
Wild Geese full back Scott Ennis, meanwhile, was certainly not making it easy for the Mearnog attack, with midfielder Shane Kavanagh sending over the bulk of the scorers for the home side.
With Wild Geese wing forward Dan Sammon showing serious pace down the flanks, Mearnog were in need of inspiration and it came with five minutes to go in the half when full forward Dylan McCartney snapped up a chance at the edge of the square after Wild Geese had been slow to clear their lines.
That would open up a 1-10 to 0-6 interval lead, with two early points off frees from Kavanagh and 2017 Dublin minor Tommy Kinnane stretching the visitors lead to nine points shortly after the resumption.
The latter made some good probing runs down the right for Mearnog, but Wild Geese held firm, with half-time substitute Jamie Clarke landing back-to-back frees for the home side.
And Wild Geese were then handed a lifeline on 40 minutes when Sammon snapped up a chance on the edge of the square to leave just four between the sides.
Mearnog's mood was not lifted when they had a seemingly good point disallowed, but points from Kinnane and Kavanagh each side of a Clarke free gave Mearnog a bit more breathing space.
However, Wild Geese were back in business when Clarke's long-range free found the back of the net. Kavanagh came through at pace before firing past Andy Bell, before Rooney claimed a late third goal for the home side.
Wild Geese: Andy Bell, Adam White, Scott Ennis, Danny Callen, Ben O'Brien 0-1, Dara O Brien, Niall Sweetman, Johnathon Rooney 1-0, John Rodgers, Jack Ryan, Jack Roberts 0-4(all frees), Dan Sammon 1-1, Cian Fisher, Liam Monks, Jay O Shannon. Subs: Jamie Clarke 1-3 (1-3f).
Naomh Mearnog: Cian O Daly, Sean Meehan, Dermot Keavey, Adam Ryan, Stephen James, Tommy Kinnane 0-2(2f), Jack O Leary, Stan Kinnane, Shane Kavanagh 1-8 (0-8f), Dylan Kilbride, Sam Corcoran 0-1, Shane Warren 0-2, Chris O Sullivan, Dylan McCarthy 1-1 Ross Hayden 0-1. Mark O Callaghan, Bobby Kelly.