Na Fianna complete unique quartet

by James Hendicott
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NA FIANNA comfortably saw off Ballyboden St Enda’s in the Under-21 A football championship final at O’Toole Park on Saturday afternoon.
The composure and methodical fluidity of the northsiders proving too much for their more frantic opponents as they completed a famous quadruple across the Under-21 and minor grades in both football and hurling.
The game looked evenly matched early on, but was perhaps symptomatic of what was to come later. Na Fianna burst into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead with two points from Sean Caffrey and another from James Doran coming despite an evenly-matched opening.
Boden has plenty of the ball, but tended to misdirect it when moving at pace. At the other end, Na Fianna built slowly and carefully, creating space, and only two desperate Ballyboden blocks prevented a bigger lead.
St Enda’s were to hit back through a series of frees from their most effective player, the reliably accurate star man Colm Basquel, but a pattern was set for the contest.
Where Ballyboden could match Na Fianna, they were burning twice the energy to do so, and tending to give away possession in the midst of their rapid attacking flurries.
The composure eventually told in Na Fianna’s confidence in front of the posts and their next three scores were the best of the game.
First, Glenn O’Reilly found space out on the right to fire over a beautiful tightly-angled point. Then Aaron Byrne calmly side-stepped a defender to chip over. Finally, Alex Fitzgerald was found on the end of a beautiful flowing move through several hands to pummel into the net, and Na Fianna had control at 1-5 to 0-3.
The side in yellow were also to slam the post before half time at the end of another smooth attacking move, and while Basquel was keeping Ballyboden in with a shout, it took until first half injury time for Warren Egan to score their first point from play. Na Fianna went in with a 1-6 to 0-5 lead.
Ballyboden did close that gap back to a goal with a strong start to the second half, and had a moment when they chipped a point attempt high on the post, but weren’t quick enough to react and saw Na Fianna clear.
From then on, the game looked a foregone conclusion with Na Fianna controlling the contest both with and without the ball. They pulled slowly further clear, with a second goal scrambled in with the run of play to put the contest to bed ten minutes from time.
Ballyboden has much of the ball in the closing stage, but struggled to produce much with it, with Na Fianna ultimately running out 2-11 to 0-9, having also rattled the woodwork at goal-scoring height no less than three times over 60 minutes.
With the Under-21 win coming on top of their minor title earlier this year, Na Fianna look a serious long-term footballing prospect.

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