Senior status denied

by James Hendicott
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AFTER over two hours of gut-wrenching action, Fingallians eventually succumbed to Naomh Olaf in their AFL3 playoff on Tuesday evening, missing out on a return to senior league football to go with their intermediate championship success in 2016.
Friday night’s initial tie had ended in a cracking 1-20 a piece draw, Tuesday’s replay in Lawless Park provided more thrills and spills but Olaf’s ultimately prevailed 3-7 to 2-8.
In the first tie, Olaf’s had led by a goal at half time in a game that saw a huge amount of flamboyant attacking play from both sides before Fingallians levelled things up with around 15 minutes left through a penalty.
The Swords club then edged in front as they went into the last quarter only for their hosts to force their way back into the game in the dying minutes and snatch an extra time reprieve.
Neither side was able to gain control in extra time either, with a high-scoring game finishing 1-20 each as both sides began to feel the pace of a lengthy AFL3 finale and a long season.
Forced to go again on Tuesday night, Fins might have felt home advantage would work in their favour, but found a resilient second half Naomh Olaf performance take the prize away from them.
Donal Farrell got the Swords men off the mark with a goal just three minutes in and they stretched their lead to as much as five points approaching half time, as the teams dug in, showing their knowledge of each other’s approach in much a less high-scoring replay.
They had a four-point lead at half-time but Olaf’s had saved the best until last and hit back hard.
Two goals in the first six minutes of the second half levelled things up for the visitors, only for Dylan Staunton to put the Swords side a promising 2-7 to 2-4 ahead with a quarter of the match remaining.
The Sandyford side took control from then on, however, and scored six unanswered points including another goal in the following 10 minutes to take the tie away from them.
Fins were only able to dig up a single point in response as the game petered out with a desperate, driving final ten minutes from the hosts seeing neither side affect the scoreboard.
Reflecting on the tie, a club spokesman said: “Fair play to Olaf’s for taking their chances at the right time during second half.
“It’s just a pity the clock ran out before we could gather the momentum again to see the game into extra time.
“Tonight wasn’t to be but the pain will disappear and, like a phoenix from the ashes, we will rise again and prove to all that we can and will be playing senior football league in Dublin this time next year.”

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