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DUBLIN AHL9 FINAL, By Rnn Mac Lochlainn

Mearnóg clear final hurdle on emotional day

A STRONG first-half display saw Naomh Mearnóg finally get the upper hand on St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh by 1-15 to 1-8 in the Dublin Adult Hurling League Division 9 Final in Portmarnock on Sunday morning.

It was an emotional day for the visitors, who displayed the Irish Cancer Society logo on their jerseys for the first time following the tragic loss of their goalkeeper Michael Dooley to cancer in April.

Dooley would have looked down with pride on the display of Plunkett's netminder Daragh Carolan, who was exceptional throughout and received able support from Dan Connaughton, Danny Ormonde and Stephen Gogarty.

However, the hosts, managed by Jackie Hughes, Tony Larkin and Frank Lynch, were on top from the outset, with Karl Martin outstanding from open play and dead balls in particular, as they opened up a sizeable lead from the start.

Mearnóg's restricted Eoghan Ruadh to a solitary point in the opening-half, with corner-back Ciarán Ó Mordha, wing-back Mark Shaw and centre-back Damien Scott providing a solid defensive platform, while six points from Martin ensured a 0-9 to 0-1 interval lead for the hosts.

Martin continued to tag on points after the break but Eoghan Ruadh, missing three instrumental players, were a different proposition in the second-half with Seán O'Connor giving a tour de force at centrefield.

Centre-forward Liam Corbett, O'Connor and Michael Cregan all added points before a Cregan goal left just two points between the sides with 10 minutes remaining.

The hosts regrouped well, though, thanks to points from Simon Woods, Ciarán Reale, Scott and club coach Paddy Gorey, and Reale's goal three minutes from time saw them home by seven points, to the delight of team mentor Hughes.

"It was a hard-earned win and the scoreline was a bit harsh on Plunkett's," added Hughes.

"We're looking forward to a break now after a long year and then hopefully progressing further next year."