Jude’s joy as Saints cruise thanks to the ice-cool Coakley brothers
DUBLIN SFC1 GROUP 2
ST JUDE’S 1-10
NA FIANNA 0-8
THE Coakley brothers – Niall and Brian – produced the goods at Parnell Park on Saturday evening to give St Jude’s a winning start to their Dublin SFC1 Group 2 campaign.
The Cork siblings amassed a combined haul of 1-7 for the 2018 finalists, who were playing their first competitive game of the year. Na Fianna had strong performers in Dean Ryan, Aaron Byrne and Glenn O’Reilly, but ultimately fell short to their southside counterparts.
One of just two survivors from their maiden final appearance of 2009 – goalkeeper Paul Copeland was the other – seven-time Celtic Cross winner Kevin McManamon lined out on the edge of the square for Jude’s. Eoin O’Dea was his designated marker for the duration and acquitted himself admirably under difficult circumstances.
Unlike Jude’s, Na Fianna had played one league game prior to the lockdown – a 3-10 to 0-14 defeat at the hands of Ballyboden St Enda’s. They fell behind to a Tom Devlin point in their latest encounter, only for Byrne to superbly split the posts off a long-distance free.
Niall Coakley eventually restored the Jude’s lead with a routine free, before Byrne was denied an 11th-minute goal by Copeland at the opposite end.
Niall Coakley provided a constant threat to the Na Fianna rearguard and after finding room to shoot off his reliable left foot, he edged Jude’s into a two-point advantage (0-3 to 0-1).
The first water break of the tie offered Na Fianna a chance to re-assess and they subsequently worked their way back into contention. Following swapped efforts from Paddy Quinn and Devlin, Byrne and David Quinn found the target to bring the teams back on level terms.
Yet Jude’s remained calm and had the more productive end to the opening period. Half-back Tom Lahiff pointed a mark from 35 metres and Niall Coakley added another free to leave the Wellington Lane outfit 0-6 to 0-4 in front at the break.
As a result, momentum was now with St Jude’s and they struck a decisive blow straight from the restart. Niall Coakley was presented with a clear path to goal and he unleashed a powerful strike to the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Na Fianna were now facing into an uphill task, with the Jude’s defence offering their attack precious little leeway at the opposite end of the Donnycarney venue. Nevertheless, McHugh (free) and Ryan pointed either side of a Brian Coakley mark to keep them within touching distance.
Try as they might, however, the five-time champions simply couldn’t put a run of scores together. Having watched his brother turn on the style either side of the interval, Brian Coakley slowly came into his own.
After showcasing his dead-ball prowess on 42 minutes, he latched onto a delicate McManamon pass to add another fine point on the third-quarter mark. A Glenn O’Reilly single was sandwiched in between these efforts as Na Fianna fought to keep themselves in the reckoning.
Byrne’s third free of the game reduced their deficit, only for Brian Coakley to immediately respond with his fourth point. Corner-back Ciarán Fitzpatrick was forced to turn away a goal-bound Byrne strike in the closing moments, but St Jude’s emerged as deserving victors in the end.
Next up for Gareth Roche’s charges is an away trip to Ballinteer St John’s on August 5, while Na Fianna entertain Lucan Sarsfields on the same night.
Scorers – St Jude’s: N Coakley 1-3 (0-2f), B Coakley 0-4 (1 mark, 1 ’45’), T Devlin 0-2, T Lahiff 0-1 (mark). Na Fianna: A Byrne 0-3 (3f), C McHugh (f), D Ryan, P Quinn, G O’Reilly, D Quinn 0-1 each.
ST JUDE’S: P Copeland; O Manning, J McGuire, C Fitzpatrick; T Lahiff, M Sweeney, A Hassett; C Murphy, K Doherty; T Devlin, D McLoughlin, B Coakley; N Coakley, K McManamon, S King. Subs: P Cunningham for Sweeney (30+1), C Guckian for Doherty (38), R Martina for King (48), D Sheehy for McLoughlin (54), C McLoughlin for Manning (61).
NA FIANNA: S Murray; J Cooper, E O’Dea, A Rafter; D Kennedy, D Ryan, N Cooper; E McHugh, P Quinn; G O’Reilly, A Byrne, D Quinn; D Lacey, C McHugh, B O’Leary. Subs: S Caffrey for P Quinn (44), E Connolly for D Quinn (60).
Referee: S McCarthy (St Vincent’s).