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Olaf's show Keane edge



Naomh Olaf produced a dominant second-half performance when overcoming St Oliver Plunkett's/ Eoghan Ruadh by 13 points in their entertaining Dublin U16 'A' Football Championship first-round encounter at Páirc Uí Bhriain last Saturday afternoon.

That winning margin didn't reflect the efforts of the visitors who kept things tight for the majority of the hour but with tiredness kicking in, they conceded a glut of scores in the final quarter.

Central to the hosts' success was the platform provided at midfield by the towering Eoin Foley, who garnered a wealth of possession and kicked two fine scores, one in either half.

His dominance allowed a vibrant home attack to impress at regular intervals with wing-forward Glenn Soraghan and full-forward Tom Keane producing exceptional performances as they shared 1-14 of their side's imposing tally.

It didn't take long for Naomh Olaf to highlight their forward threat as Keane turned sharply from Soraghan's precise delivery to split the posts in the second minute for the game's opening score.

Foley doubled that lead and the visitors were all at sea initially as they conceded further scores to Keane and Soraghan to fall four points down with barely five minutes played.

However, Plunkett's were given a much-needed boost as Lorcan Stone pounced to find the net in the sixth minute after an exceptional team move in which Aaron Carey and full-forward Jamie Caffrey were heavily involved.

This prompted a purple patch for the visitors who levelled matters within a minute through an excellent point by Sean Bugler and as they controlled possession, they pushed two points clear through further scores by Caffrey and Bugler.

Having been held scoreless for the previous 12 minutes, the hosts drew level thanks to a brace of glorious points from Keane and they would have pushed clear but for a sublime save by Daire Bartley who dived full-length to deny Keane's powerful low drive in the 19th minute.

With both sides enjoying brief pockets of control, the lead exchanged hands approaching the break with Soraghan kicking three fine scores from play for the hosts while Stone added a point to his earlier goal to ensure stalemate by the interval.

It proved a different scenario in the second-half despite Plunkett's keeping matters reasonably tight in defence as Darragh Carroll strove tirelessly to curb Keane's influence while Peter Maher was another to add solidity to the away defence.

The home rearguard tightened up immeasurably upon the restart with their full-back line of Tom McGurke, Conor Kirwan and Daire Coleman dominating their individual battles as Naomh Olaf began to control affairs prior to the game's defining moment.

With the game delicately poised, some loose defending from a Keane '45' saw Jack Dalton gather possession far too easily and he left Bartley helpless with a clinical finish to push Naomh Olaf four points clear in the 40th minute.

The challenge of Plunkett's suffered as a result with Soraghan and Keane adding points as the half progressed and an excellent team move gained the reward it deserved when Ben Thornton crashed home a superb second goal with six minutes remaining.

The visitors kicked their third point of the half soon after through wing-back Joe Cassidy but it proved an isolated highlight for Plunkett's, whose misery was complete when Keane's innocuous looking '45' found the net in the closing stages.