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'knock rally

A dominant second-half display ensured Castleknock deservedly overcame Clan na Gael Fontenoy by six points in their Dublin Intermediate Football Championship semi-final at Parnell Park last Friday evening.

The heavy rain that fell throughout the night mitigated against a high-scoring and free-flowing contest, but the battling qualities Castleknock displayed upon the restart reflected well on the patience and maturity within the panel.

There were few signs of panic as they trailed by three points at the interval and once they managed to build up a head of steam in the second half, Castleknock always looked likely to have too much fire-power for a brave Clanns outfit.


Central to Castleknock's success was the influence substitutes Dave McConn and Tom Shiels exerted on affairs after their introduction at half-time, with McConn in particular settling a middle-third sector which had struggled in the earlier passages of play.

Ultimately, the statistic that Clan na Gael failed to score from open play over the duration was perhaps the most salient one and their failure to even trouble the umpires from the 14th minute onwards ensured it was always going to be an uphill struggle for them.

However, there was much to admire in the manner in which they took the game to their opponents in the early stages with Ricky Joyce striking a superb free in the second minute to open the scoring.

Better was to follow from Joyce three minutes later when he audaciously converted a sideline ball from under the stand to double his side's lead.

Joyce's hat-trick of sorts was completed a minute later as he fired over a '45', gaining early reward for the control that Clan na Gael exerted on the contest.


That lead could have been doubled in the seventh minute as Joyce availed of a defensive slip-up to race through on goal, but his well-struck shot from 10 metres was acrobatically repelled by Castleknock netminder Cian O'Hara, in what was a decisive moment in the game.

With David Lyons dropping deep from midfield for the Ringsend outfit, Castleknock were struggling to place sufficient pressure of the Clanns defence but they eventually opened their account through a fine score from wing-forward Shane Boland in the 12th minute.

That score failed to ignite an improved display by the favourites with Joyce restoring his team's three-point advantage as he struck another sumptuous free at the end of the first quarter.

Much of Castleknock's initial lethargy was almost forgotten in the 18th minute when Kevin Kindlon turned sharply but his powerful shot rattled back off Jason Redmond's crossbar with very few chances created from that point as Clanns enjoyed a 0-4 to 0-1 interval lead.

The second-half was a mirror image of the opening period with Castleknock finally displaying their threat as they enjoyed an ascendancy in the scrappy exchanges around the middle third.

After Des Carlos (right) had trimmed their arrears with a 33rd-minute free, the Somerton Park side went on a scoring spree with a point by Kindlon splitting a brace of Carlos frees as Clan na Gael suddenly found themselves 0-5 to 0-4 behind by the 45th minute.

Graham Hannigan joined the attack to telling effect a minute later as he palmed over and the game was slipping from Clanns grasp as Carlos added a cracking point to help reflect his team's control of events.

Try as they might, Clan na Gael were unable to attack the Castleknock goal with sufficient numbers to threaten an unlikely comeback and their fervent efforts in the first half were beginning to take their toll in energy-sapping conditions.

To their credit, Castleknock possessed the required control to take advantage of this situation and after Matt Griffin had pointed as we entered added-time, Carlos confirmed his side's deserved progression when kicking his sixth point of the match in the closing stages.

Scorers - Castleknock: D Carlos 0-6 (5f); S Boland, K Kindlon, G Hannigan, M Griffin 0-1 each. Clan na Gael: R Joyce 0-4 (2f, 1 '45', 1 sideline).

Castleknock: C O'Hara; G Hannigan, D Kinneavy, C Neville; J Rafter, T Quinn, V Turner; J Tunney, S Lynch; M Griffin, D Carlos, S Boland; C Byrne, R Corcoran, K Kindlon. Subs: D McConn for Lynch and T Shiels for Byrne (half-time), P Mulvihill for Kindlon (45), E O'Brien for Neville (59).

Clan na Gael: J Redmond; K Munnelly, J Hennessy, S Ó Brollacháin; C McAleer, T O'Brien, B Sheehan; D Lyons, C Connolly; B Noonan, R Joyce, F Kenny; K Mullvihill, S Caulfield, T Canavan. Subs: J Hoare for Ó Brollacháin (22), H Long for Canavan (42), D Meehan for McAleer (47), D O'Brien for Mullvihill (51), K Lyons for Kenny (58).

Mentors - Castleknock: Enda Murphy, John McMenaman, Jim Maguire, Gerry Kelly, Tom McMenaman. Clan na Gael: Conor Hurley.

Referee: Barry Tiernan (O'Dwyer's).

Wides - Castleknock: 6 (2+4). Clan na Gael: 7 (6+1).

Conditions: Incessant rain but pitch held up.

Player of the Game: Graham Hannigan (Castleknock).