Na Fianna were without the services of All-Star defender Jonny Cooper.
St Vincents 2-11
Na Fianna 0-12
Kevin O’Brien reports from Parnell Park
REIGNING COUNTY CHAMPIONS St Vincent’s narrowly progressed into the third round of the Dublin SFC after being pushed all the way by Na Fianna.
Goals from Diarmuid Connolly and Tomas Quinn left St Vincent’s six in front at half-time, but they struggled for scores for long spells after the interval.
With flying forwards Aaron Byrne, Glenn O’Reilly and Conor McHugh in fine form, Na Fianna made their way back into the game but missed a couple of goal chances at key intervals in the 2nd half.
Despite not scoring for 18 minutes after the turnaround, St Vincent’s used all their experience to post five points down the stretch and secure the victory.
This was a really good game with two sides who came to play ball and plenty of electric forwards on show.
Na Fianna had a lively forward unit, with pacey forwards Byrne and O’Reilly fresh from Dublin’s recent All-Ireland U21 success. Senior county panellist Conor McHugh was outstanding at centre-forward and looks primed to carry that form into the Dublin colours this summer.
Connolly shot 1-4, but it was Shane Carthy, scorer of three points, who carried the can for St Vincent’s with a fine display from midfield.
Ultimately what cost Na Fianna was their failure to hit the back of the net. Byrne hit the post after a flowing move in the 44th minute, while Gus Farrell fizzed a shot over ten minutes later.
McHugh raced through on goal near the death but was fouled by Ger Brennan, his former schoolteacher, who picked up a yellow but spared his team a certain shot on goal.
Na Fianna started without injured All-Star defender Jonny Cooper, who took part in the warm-up but didn’t stir from the bench, although former county hurler and footballer Tomas Brady returned from injury to play an important role at midfield.
Eoin Murchan, another member of Dessie Farrell’s U21 champions gave a good account of himself in a shadowing role on Connolly. He should find himself in Gavin’s plans before the Dublin boss departs in 2019.
On this showing there will be plenty of bright days ahead for this talented young Na Fianna squad.
St Vincent’s were wasteful at times (they hit 11 wides in total), but a blistering start left them 2-3 to 0-3 ahead inside 17 minutes.
Quinn marked his first championship appearance of the season with a goal inside six minutes, and 11 minutes later he picked out Connolly for their second three-pointer.
Connolly had a fairly quiet opening quarter, before he was moved inside to devastating effect. He curled over two fine scores before Quinn’s beautiful pass left the two-time All-Star with just the keeper to beat. Connolly made no mistake from close range to push the champions six in front.
O’Reilly, Byrne and McHugh all provided scores and looked dangerous during spells in the opening half, but Na Fianna trailed by 2-6 to 0-5 at the interval.
Na Fianna hit the first four scores after the break, with O’Reilly, McHugh and Byrne all on target as they reduced the gap to three.
But a lack of goals meant Na Fianna couldn’t reel the Vinnies in, with midfielders Carthy and Daithi Waters booming over scores from distance to keep daylight between the teams.
Connolly and McHugh traded scores as the clock ran out on Na Fianna’s campaign.
In the other Dublin SFC game tonight, Cuala enjoyed a 3-16 to 3-11 win over St Maur’s at O’Toole Park.
Scorers for St Vincent’s: Diarmuid Connolly 1-4, Shane Carthy 0-3, Tomas Quinn 1-0, Daithi Murphy, Gavin Burke, Cameron Diamond and Enda Varley (free) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Na Fianna: Conor McHugh 0-6 (0-2f), Glenn O’Reilly 0-3, Aaron Byrne 0-2, Gus Farrell 0-1.
1. Michael Savage
4. Michael Concarr
3. Jarlath Curley
2. Craig Wilson
5. Cameron Diamond
6. Ger Brennan
7. Nathan Mullins
8. Daithi Murphy
9. Shane Carthy
10. Gavin Burke
11. Diarmuid Connolly
20. Cormac Diamond
26. Albert Martin
30. Enda Varley
15. Tomas Quinn
21. Tiernan Diamond for Martin (39)
12. Joe Feeney for Burke (50)
18. Fiachra Breathnach for Diamond (50)
13. Ruairi Traynor for Varley (60)
1. Conor McCarville
6. John Kelly
3. Niall Cooper
4. Darragh Kennedy
2. Niall McGovern
5. Eoin Murchan
18. Senan Coughlan
8. Carl O’Connor
9. Tomas Brady
11. Gus Farrell
13. Aaron Byrne
12. Glenn O’Reilly
14. Conor McHugh
24. Alasdar Fitzgerald
15. Eoin Neville
17. Paul O’Hanlon for Kennedy (15)
10. JJ Martin for O’Connor (37)
25. Odhran Maoileidigh for Neville (40)
28. Michael Deegan for Farrell (55)
20. Andrew Baxter for Coughlan (59)
Referee: Barry Tiernan.