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Fionn fires Na Fianna to win

NA FIANNA 1-6

KILMACUD CROKES 1-4

A 46th-minute goal from midfielder Fionn O'Connor proved vital at St Mobhi Road last Wednesday evening, as Na Fianna were crowned Minor Football League Division One champions for 2012 with a narrow victory over rivals Kilmacud Crokes in a low-scoring final replay.

This encounter had been a long-delayed one, as the drawn fixture took place way back on November 18 in Páirc de Búrca, which made it difficult to know what to expect when the sides renewed acquaitances once again.

exchanges

Having lost in the Minor Championship semi-final to Crokes (who went on to win the competition), the Glasnevin outfit had revenge in their minds and, following the tentative early exchanges, they registered the opening score of the contest seven minutes in, when half-forward AJ Murphy fired over off his left peg.

Crokes had the wind on their backs during the opening period but despite enjoying plenty of possession during the first quarter, Michael McNicholas's charges had to wait until the 18th minute to open their account.

A 35-metre free from full-forward David Campbell helped to level matters at this time, and although Murphy was quick to cancel out this score with his second point of the game, the powerful Campbell was again on target from a tricky placed ball effort.

As the half progressed, it was becoming clear that every score was going to be vital, and Crokes had their netminder Conor Murray to thank after 24 minutes, as he diverted a goal-bound shot by Eric Caffrey over the crossbar.

This looked like it might be a turning point in the tie, as Crokes took the lead for the very first time just a minute later when centre-forward Cian MacGabhann finished to the net after an initial attempt from Campbell had been saved by Na Fianna's Stephen Murray, and with Dara Mullin tagging on a point from a free, the Glenalbyn men held a three-point cushion (1-3 to 0-3) at the mid-way point.

However, despite falling further behind early in the second half when Mullin contributed his second score in succession, Na Fianna reduced the gap to two heading into the final quarter with scores from substitute Glen Reilly and Alistair Fitzgerald.

Empty

Just before this, the lively Caffrey had forced another fine stop from Murray, but Jimmy Ward's side finally got it right with 14 minutes to play, when centre-fielder O'Connor nipped in front of the Crokes custodian, before kicking to an empty net.

This looked like it was going to give Na Fianna the initiative at a crucial stage in the game, but Stephen Murray had to be at his very best to turn away a three-point opportunity for Campbell from a tight angle on the right-hand side.

However, this proved to be the closest that Crokes came to forcing the outcome in their direction, as a fisted point from Caffrey with four minutes of normal time remaining was enough to ensure that Na Fianna secured the league crown, in spite of some pressure on their goal in the dying stages.


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