Saturday 21 April 2018

Ravens bank an early derby win

Rory Kerr

We are barely into the new club season and already Fingal Ravens have had to retire the number four jersey after it was torn to shreds, Diarmuid Connolly style, in a recent fixture!

Fingal Ravens 2-9 Naomh Mearnog 0-6

Suffice to say there are no easy games at this time of year but the good news for Ravens is that they are facing the challenge head on.

While traveling with just the minimum complement of players for Sunday's AIB Cup fixture with Naomh Mearnog, although training numbers are very high, Ravens turned in a commanding display to chalk up their first win of the season.

Some may have doubted their ability to sustain the loss of marquee forward Niall Tormey in the close season but they proved the detractors wrong with a determined display against the home side.

Most encouraging for manager Pat McDonagh and coach Paul Clarke (not to be confused with the O'Byrne cup winning manager of the same name) was the display of Shane McDonagh who hit some big scores in the second half as Ravens took full advantage of a strong breeze.

By contrast Mearnog were less economical with the same breeze as they registered just one point from six attempts in the first quarter.

The build-up play was good but overall Mearnog were a bit lacking up front. They also might argue that one or two decisions went against them.

One push on a player went unnoticed while straight away a Mearnog defender was punished leading to a free which McDonagh converted.

This two point swing may not have affected the result too much but nonetheless it did add to Mearnog's discontent in a first half which saw one black card and three yellows handed out.

Then there was the concession of the two goals, the second a rather calamitous effort which saw the Mearnog keeper spill a high ball onto a post with Luke Griffin on hand to turn the ball home at the far post.

That opened up an eight-point lead for Ravens but for all that they had more purpose in their play with corner back, Kenny McDonagh, showing plenty of tenaciousness in the tackle.

They had leaders all over the pitch and while their shooting let them down a bit in the final quarter, overall Ravens will be more than pleased with this result

A composed finish from Michael Gibbs saw Mearnog open their account only for Joe O'Donnell to level proceedings following a pass from Ross McCarthy.

And while Jamie Walsh restored the Mearnog lead from a free, a terrific score off the left from Paul Casey tied the game for a second time.

And then 13 minutes into the game, Ravens struck for their first goal when O'Donnell was on hand to fist past the keeper following a quick break from the visiting side.

Mearnog lost their discipline a bit after that as they conceded successive frees to McDonagh and then to compound matters, Sean Griffin, struck for a goal with two minutes to go in the half to leave it at 2-4 to 0-2 at the half way stage.

Mearnog would remedy things somewhat after that with Niall Murphy picking off two good scores from the left.

And then ten minutes into the second half, Cian Daly pulled off a good save to deny Alan Grassick after he had collected a crossfield ball from Murphy.

It was to prove a crucial intervention and with Luke Griffin proving a driving force from the wing back position, Ravens closed the game out with a hat-trick of points from McDonagh while Ross McCarthy was also on target for the visitors.

Fingal Ravens: Cian Daly, Kenny McDonagh, Matty Lambe, Paul Casey 0-1, Barry Caulfied, Adam Lawless, Luke Griffin, Ian Kavanagh, Darragh Kavanagh, Thomas McGrath, Eoin O Flaherty, Shane McDonagh 0-5 (0-2f), Joe O'Donnell 1-1, Ross McCarthy 0-1, Sean Griffin 0-1.

Naomh Mearnog: Mark Fitzsimons, Eoin Shiels, Frank Doyle, Matthew Shorthall, Luke Dowd, Ronan Colreavy, Stephen Colreavy, Stephen Connolly, Oisin Taylor, Brian Doyle, Aodhan Fee, Micheal Gibbs 0-1, Luke Nangle 0-1, Niall Murphy 0-3(0-1f), Jamie Walsh 0-1(0-1f), Alan Grassick. Subs: Glen McRory, Kevin Stafford.

Fingal Independent