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Na Fianna find extra gear

NA FIANNA 1-14, ST VINCENT'S 1-10 (after extra-time)

THE teams went past their bed-time in Parnell Park last Thursday night.

The game threw in at 8.15. Big Ben had chimed for the News At Ten before the lights went out.

In the chilly Donnycarney climate, the tie took a while to warm up. But the second half, and the extra-time, were worth getting in the Saorview for.

There was quality written all over the screen from the moment that Gavin King struck his first side-line cut. It flew into outer space. The sliotar spent the weekend dancing on the moon.

It was always likely that the North Dublin derby was going to produce a spice-burger. Both sides had notable semi-final victories on the southside -- Na Fianna against Kilmacud, and Vincent's over Cuala.

"Vincent's played out of their socks tonight," summed up the Mobhi manager, Declan Feeney. "They gave us plenty to think about, and for a long time we weren't able to impose ourselves on the game.

"But the lads stuck at it, and now they are history makers. This is the first time that we have managed to retain a hurling championship.

"I felt we got better as it went on. And once we got our noses in front, we pushed on. We pulled away a little bit in the second period of extra-time, but that often happens in matches."

As the Vincent's lads came down the steps of the stand from the presentation area, the sustained applause could be heard across Páirc Naomh Uinsionn.

Vins have a super 'keeper in Darragh Perry. Late in the second half, he made the save-of-the-season. Conor Burke, Kevin McDonnell and Mark Dunleavy showed industry and skill that suggests many promising years ahead.

The duel was level seven times. Vins were ahead at the break, 0-5 to 0-3. Na Fianna saw plenty of the sliotar after the Bovril, but they missed some chances.

The Marino men looked dangerous on the counter. The Glasnevin defending had to be solid. A brilliant slice of defensive play from captain Hugh Fenlon set up Dylan Foy for Na Fianna's goal at the score-board end 23 minutes into the second half to put them two points up.

Three minutes later, Vincent's replied with a goal. Burke and McDonnell were both on the scene of the strike, but, after mature reflection, the Vincent's jury awarded the goal to McDonnell.

With 30 seconds of normal time left, Colin Currie made it 1-6 apiece. And so to the extra-time, which saw parity three times in its first 10-minute period.

Points from Matthew Oliver and Foy edged Na Fianna ahead at half-time in extra-time, 1-11 to 1-9.

Oliver ticked on another one. Burke responded with a free, but Currie and Foy produced the last two gems of the contest.

It was soon time to be making the cocoa and putting on the pyjamas.


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