‘MUN GET OFF TO A WINNING START
Second-half goals from Bolger and Hosey steer Kickhams to victory over battling Mearnog lads
DUBLIN MFC ‘A’ GROUP 3
ROBBIE Bolger and Daragh Hosey grabbed second-half goals at Pairc Ciceam on Sunday morning to give Ballymun Kickhams a winning start to their Dublin Minor ‘A’ Football Championship Group 3 campaign.
There was little to separate the ‘Mun from their opponents, Naomh Mearnog, for the majority of the contest with the lead changing hands on a multitude of occasions.
Their Portmarnock counterparts brought a slender lead into the interval and subsequently found themselves one point in front (0-11 to 0-10) with just seven minutes remaining.
However, having survived some nervy moments in defence, ‘Mun pounced for a brace of majors in the closing stages to ultimately squeezed past the challenge of Mearnog.
Just four years on from a serious illness that required open heart surgery, Mark Leonard played a starring role in defence for the triumphant home side – his piercing run serving as the catalyst for Hosey’s crucial three-pointer.
This was the second competitive meeting between these two teams, following their previous showdown at the same venue on June 30. Mearnog had seven points to spare over ‘Mun (2-14 to 0-13) in that Division Two clash and were aiming for a repeat result on their return to Collinstown Lane.
They deployed Tom Cosgrove in a deep-lying role at the heart of their defence with Cian Hill taking up a similar position for Kickhams at the opposite end. The early exchanges proved to be quite tentative and clear-cut opportunities in general play were initially few and far between.
Mearnog centre-forward Josh Phillips broke the deadlock with a second-minute pointed free, before Cillian Doyle did likewise for the hosts. Rather than completely burdening Phillips with placed-ball duties, Mearnog utilised the right boot of corner-forward Davi Dennehy to great effect.
He added scores in the ninth and 12 minutes respectively to provide the visitors with some breathing space. Nevertheless, ‘Mun gradually came to terms with their task and impressively turned the tables on Mearnog either side of the first-quarter mark.
After Doyle and Ryan Murphy contributed quick-fire points, half-forward Corey Power became the fourth player to convert a free in the opening period. Midfielder Ciaran McManus also found the target for a rampant ‘Mun, who count their own club senior footballer Fiach Andrews amongst their management team.
Just when the tide appeared to be turning against Mearnog, they responded with an outstanding scoring blitz. Five points without reply – including 0-2 salvos for Dennehy and marauding wing-back Ronan Patterson – meant they were back in the driving seat approaching the break.
A Power free helped Kickhams to settle again, but they were still facing into a 0-6 to 0-8 deficit when the action resumed.
Even though Doyle and Murphy restored parity with unanswered points, Dennehy and Phillips frees gave Mearnog a foothold in the play once again.
The influence of Phillips was beginning to grow and his fourth point of the day edged Mearnog a step closer to claiming the spoils.
Another Power effort pegged them back slightly, but ‘Mun netminder Ryan Flannery was forced to turn away goal-bound strikes from Dennehy and raiding corner-back Eoin Kelly.
Had either player rattled the net, it may well have been a decisive score for Mearnog. Instead, Ballymun were a galvanised outfit and fired 1-2 in quick succession to give themselves a firm grip on the proceedings.
In between Murphy and Doyle points, substitute Hosey drilled home at a tight left-hand angle. A brace of Phillips points reduced the gap to a bare minimum once more but when Hosey released Dublin minor Bolger for a run at goal, he made no mistake with a cool finish to the bottom corner.
Although a point courtesy of Mearnog replacement Jack Quinn set-up a tense finale, Ballymun had done enough to get over the line.
Scorers – Ballymun Kickhams: C Doyle 0-4 (4f), R Bolger, D Hosey 1-0 each, C Power (2f), R Murphy 0-3 each, C McManus 0-1. Naomh Mearnog: J Phillips 0-6 (4f), D Dennehy 0-5 (5f), R Patterson 0-2, J Quinn 0-1.
BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: R Flannery; D Brennan, S Parnell, S Lawlor; M Leonard, C Perkins, D Robertson; C McManus, P McMahon; C Moore, R Murphy, C Hill; R Bolger, C Doyle, C Power.
Subs: D Hosey for Moore (h-t), G Sheridan for Brennan (43).
NAOMH MEARNOG: K Morgan; E Kelly, R O’Loughlin, J Irwin; R Patterson, C Archer, F Radford McGovern; M O’Callaghan, A Hughes; T Cosgrove, J Phillips, R Gibson; D Dennehy, B Smith, L Wright.
Subs: D Maddock for Gibson (41), Z McCartney for Irwin (48), J Quinn for Smith (54).
MENTORS – Ballymun Kickhams: John Leonard, Fiach Andrews, Kevin Brady, Declan Bolger, Kenny Parnell. Naomh Mearnog: Dave Storey, Adrian Kavanagh, Tony Phillips.
Referee: Senan Finucane (Templeogue Synge Street).
WIDES – Ballymun Kickhams: 6 (3+3). Naomh Mearnog: 5 (1+4).
CONDITIONS: Dry throughout with only a slight breeze.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Ryan Murphy (Ballymun Kickhams).