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Craobh survive fightback from Harps to secure title

CRAOBH CHIARáIN withstood a determined Skerries Harps second-half comeback to deservedly claim the Féile na nGael Division 5 title by 1-8 to 1-5 at Blakestown Road on Sunday.

The Donnycarney lads looked well set for a comfortable win when leading by 1-7 to 0-2 at the break, but Harps battled back superbly with points by Ciarón Murphy closing the gap. However, their brave efforts proved in vain, with Craobh goalkeeper Soren Botanu and full-back Daniel Ryan epitomising their defensive solidity, while Billy Ryan hit three crucial points for the winners.

In the group stages, Skerries registered early wins over St Mark's and Setanta before maintaining their 100pc record with a narrow 1-6 to 0-4 win over Round Tower of Lusk.

Donal Cotter was immense in midfield for Harps and Skerries were indebted to a strong contribution from the whole panel, with Cormac Hogan epitomising their battling spirit.

There was a strong spine to Skerries' challenge, with full-back Paddy Fay Watt, full-forward Darragh Rigney and centre-back Joe Marron excelling, while Seán Walls was another to impress from wing-back.

Craobh had slightly longer to travel as they competed in Thomastown, but it didn't appear to affect them a great deal as they enjoyed three wins on the bounce against Stars Of Erin, Cuala 'B' and St Sylvester's.

Central to their progression to the final was the goalscoring ability of Paul Pettigrew, who hit five goals in the group games, while Cian Darwin and Billy Ryan were equally effective, scoring four and eight goals respectively.

Cian O'Loughlin and Killian Hickey got crucial scores for Craobh in the final, with manager Tommy Ryan using the full depth of his panel.

Other commitments left Chiaráins without seven of their regular players, but Ryan was grateful that their efforts were not undermined too much as they claimed another trophy.

"We had seven lads making their confirmation on Saturday and even though the local priest offered to move the service to Sunday morning, I don't think the mothers were too happy with that! Thankfully, the other lads that came in did really well," said Ryan.