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Garda charge

Garda kept their promotion ambitions alive following a relatively straightforward 12-point victory over relegation-threatened St Mark's in their Dublin Adult Football League Division 3 encounter at McGee Park on Saturday evening.

The visitors took full advantage of a weakened home outfit to seize control in the opening half, although the margin of victory failed to reflect the efforts of the hosts, who battled without gaining reward for their endeavours.

Garda benefited hugely from the dominance provided at centerfield by their pairing of Dabhach Dineen and Garrett Moran, with the former adorning a tireless display with four excellent points from play.

It was Dineen who served early notice of his intent with an excellent opening score inside the first minute but parity was soon restored as Patrick Murphy escaped down the right-flank before clipping a fine effort from the right wing.

It was one a number of enterprising sorties by the wing-forward as the hosts moved the ball swiftly through the Garda defence but their final ball often lacked precision, reflecting a lack of confidence in their play.

In contrast, the visitors looked far more controlled in their play with Damien McGinn a vital cog as he secured a wealth of possession around the middle third and his intelligent use of the ball created numerous chances for the away attack.

From one of those opportunities, full-forward Kenny Clince restored his side's advantage when firing over form close range in the fifth minute and the lively Damien Quirke doubled that lead as Garda found joy through the heart of the home defence.

Despite Dineen extending that lead, St Mark's were enjoying parity in terms of possession but they managed to cough up too much ball with Garda full-back Denis Ellard impressing in his personal duel with Joey Bell.

A David Charles point pushed Garda further ahead in the 13th minute but the hosts finally gained reward for their play as Callum Byrne converted a free following a foul on Murphy.

Piercing

The piercing runs of wing-forward Aaron Doyle were a positive for St Mark's in that opening period but their ambitions were being undermined by Dineen as he fired over his third point from play two minutes later, once again after a relatively unhindered run down the middle of the St Mark's rearguard.

Despite the home defenders playing well as individuals - as witnessed by the displays of Shane Galvin, Declan Kearns and Graham Whelan - Garda's supremacy of the breaking ball left them exposed at times and the visitors added a goal of huge quality in the 22nd minute.

The move originated in their full-back line and after a lively break down the right, Clince unselfishly passed to Michael Divilly, who palmed home into the empty net.

St Mark's reply was immediate and from the resultant kick-out, James Walsh used his strength and vision to release Byrne for a tidy finish beyond Niall Cahalane from eight yards.

Crucially, the visitors responded admirably and finished the half strongly through scores by Divilly, Peter O'Brien, Quirke and Charles to enjoy a slightly flattering 1-10 to 1-3 interval advantage.

The second half lacked the verve and pace of their opening period with both sides guilty of misplaced passes and sloppy approach play with the goal needed to revive a St Mark's comeback proving elusive. Doyle came agonisingly close but his well-struck shot veered agonisingly wide of Cahalane's left-hand upright in the 44th minute.

Effective

By then, Garda had extended their lead through scores by Keith Halley, Quirke and Divilly, while McGinn remained equally effective albeit in a more withdrawn role behind his midfield.

An excellent point from Graham Browne in the 50th minute proved 
St Mark's solitary score of the half 
and despite not overly-impressing, Garda completed a routine victory after late points by Richard Lynch, Dineen and McGinn.

Scorers - Garda: M Divilly 1-2; D Dinneen 0-4; D Quirke 0-3; D Charles 0-2; K Clince, P O'Brien, K Halley, R Lynch (f), D McGinn 0-1 each. St Mark's: C Byrne 1-2 (0-2f); P Murphy, G Browne 0-1 each.

Garda: N Cahalane; D O'Connell, D Ellard, J Kavanagh; K Halley, R Lynch, P O'Brien; D Dineen, G Moran; B Daly, D Quirke, D McGinn; D Charles, K Clince, M Divilly. Subs: M Morris for Daly (55).

St Mark's: M Kavanagh; S Galvin, D Kearns, G Browne; M O'Meara, G Whelan, R Farrell; W Walsh, S Tynan; P Murphy, J Walsh, A Doyle; J Cannon, J Bell, C Byrne. Subs: S Mooney for Farrell (36).

Mentors - Garda: Brian Talty, Gerry Smith, Paul O'Grady, Albert Hannon. St Mark's: Neil Ussher, Tom O'Doyle, Niall Shovlin.

Referee: Shay Farrelly (Ballinteer St John's).

Wides - Garda: 6 (3+3); St Mark's: 11 (6+5).

Conditions: A dry, calm evening with surface in decent condition.

Player of the Game: Damien McGinn (Garda).


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