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Na Fianna on track on sobering day for Skerries Harps

NA FIANNA 4-15

KERRIES HARPS 0-5

It has only been a few years since the proposal to run part of the Tube system over land owned by Na Fianna caused a considerable degree of friction within the club and the adjacent school on St Mobhi Road.

They had rightly claimed that generations of young players would be lost and, thankfully, common sense eventually prevailed.

It was a no-brainer and you only have to look at Saturday’s result at Parnell Park to realize just how strong Na Fianna has become over the past few years. Successes in both codes at minor level are beginning to bear fruit and by this time Na Fianna have overtaken close neighbors St Vincents and Ballymun Kickhams.

Skerries harps were simply outdone that day. Last year’s success in the Under-21 Championship marked the start of a new era for the club, but the move up to senior level is important.

And as such, Saturday’s affair, played in a constant downpour of rain, was a very trying experience. By the time Stephen Smith clinched Skerries’ first score 10 minutes into the game, they were five points behind.

Smith’s point came after a good fielding by Dublin 2022 panelist Killian McGinnis, and he highlighted Skerries’ transplant that day. But they were overtaken in all areas of the field.

Glen O’Reilly, the Na Fianna number 13, collected the dirty ball in the middle of the field. And in the final key third, Na Fianna was devastating.

While further scoring from McGInnis and Smith reduced the deficit to five manageable points, the 18th-minute turn of the game laid bare Skerries’ weaknesses at the back.

Harry Dawson, a formidable servant to Skerries since their rise to senior status around 10 years ago, picked up Aaron Byrne on the baseline but a quick acceleration from the latter saw him accelerate quickly past him before beating James Casey with a nice finish.

And, sending a signal to Dublin boss Dessie Farrell, Byrne then pounced for his second goal with three minutes left in half when cornerback Gus Farrell cut in from the left and gave Byrne the perfect pass who made no mistake with an emphatic finish.

The scoreboard showed 2-13 at 0-4 at half-time, and after adding a point shortly after the restart, Na Fianna netted a rather fortuitous third goal in the 37th minute when Vinny Flynn’s effort was back on the post and Seamus Smith was on the loose ball like lightning before passing Casey.

To be fair to Skerries, they persisted, under very trying conditions. But with their right-hand man Stephen Smith struggling to make a real impact against the excellent Eoin O’Dea, they ran into a tough defense from Na Fianna who was in no mood for charity.

For added reassurance, Jonny Cooper was on hand to provide additional protection, and with the overcooking of the harps sometimes passing to Smith, things didn’t get much better.

Byrne, on the other hand, couldn’t have been wrong and he duly completed his hat-trick 13 minutes from time when, after passing Liam Smartt, he returned a pass to a team-mate before pressing the ball past the keeper .

Skerries: James Casey, Adam El Shamy, Eoghan McGinley, Liamm Smartt. Ronan Geoghegan, Greg McEneaney, Eoghan O Connor Flanagan, Donal Cotter, Ethan Dunne, Rob McKey, Killian McGinnis 0-3(0-2f), Harry Dawson, Eoin Wilde, Stephen Smith (0-2, 0-1f), Simon Connolly. Replacements: Chattan for Connolly, Adam Fearon for Dawson (both at half-time) Ronan Mc Namara for Cotter (4) Alan Cullinane for Casey (53).