Wednesday 24 April 2019

Na Fianna hold no fears for Syls

Club Football

Rory Kerr

When the draw for the Dublin Senior Football Championship was made, St Sylvester's must have wondered if anyone 'up there' liked them.

Put in with current champions Kilmacud Crokes, Na Fianna and Ballymun Kickhams, Group 1 would have sent shivers down the spines of many down in Malahide.

But to paraphrase a line from the Apollo 13 mission, this could still be their finest hour and Syl's coach Paul Clarke - not to be confused with the Dublin selector of the same name - says his team will not be holding back when they take on Na Fianna on Saturday in Parnell Park (5.15pm).

'We are happy to go in against them and we will certainly go after them,' he insisted.

However, Clarke believes that a repeat of their display against Scoil Ui Chonaill in the league two weekends ago will certainly not be good enough.

Syl's prevailed that day to preserve their 100% record in Division 2, but only after almost letting slip an 11-point lead.

'If we play that way against Na Fianna we will be destroyed, so we must perform for the full 70 minutes,' he stressed.

Sylvester's have performed well in Parnell Park over the last number of seasons and it took a penalty from Paul Mannion to see off their gallant challenge against Crokes in last season's quarter-final.

They are unbeaten this season and along with established names like Micheàl McCarthy and Jack Hazley, Sylvester's have a good blend of experience and upcoming talent. Mark Hazley and Dave Sexton, members of the team that were beaten by Crokes in the Minor A Championship decider in 2013, have both returned to the senior fold, while Jack Hazley's considerable physical presence means that Sylvester's cannot be underestimated at the weekend.

The game is part of a double-header that will be shown live on TG4, with Kilmacud Crokes up against Ballymun Kickhams straight after.

Before that, on Friday night Skerries Harps take on Lucan Sarfields in Group 2 at 7.30 in Garristown. The two met in the championship last year when they played out an entertaining drawn encounter at St Margarets, before Harps were eventually edged out for a quarter-final spot by Na Fianna.

Harps have brought through a number of promising underage players over the last number of years, the most recent of these being Adam Fearon, who made his senior league debut in Harps' one-point win over Thomas Davis two weekends ago.

The Dublin minor was also the driving force for Skerries Community College - managed by Collie Daly - in their county and Leinster championship run last month and Harps fans will no doubt be keeping a close eye on this exciting prospect over the coming weeks.

Elsewhere, there are two local derbies to watch out for. Ballyboughal host St Margarets in Group 3 of the Intermediate Championship on Saturday evening. Then on Sunday morning O'Dwyer's will be hoping to turn their indifferent league form around when they face Innisfails in Balgriffin in the Junior 1 Club Championship.

Fingal Independent