Templeogue’s Mark Hayes attempts to break out of a tackle. Picture: Jim Power

AFL DIVISION ONE
Templeogue Synge Street 0-8
Fingallians 1-11

A SCRAPPY, slightly manic contest at Dolphin’s Park on the opening day of AFL1 season on Sunday morning saw Fingallians edge the battle of two promoted sides, defeating 14-man hosts Templeogue on Sunday.

Templeogue had announced grand plans to rejuvenate their Dolphin’s Park ground during the week, involving the selling of 15% of the venue to developers, and the reinvestment of the money received in improved facilities across the remaining 85%, a move that was the talk of the crowd.

When the game got underway, though, Fins had the better of the early minutes, carefully controlling possession around midfield. Oisin Lynch put them in front before Eoghan O’Gara leveled up on the break from Synge Street’s first attack.

Soon Synger were in front with both teams looking settled by their returning Dublin men – Paul Flynn in particular playing as a calming influence in the Fingallians midfield – in a fast-paced encounter.

Templeogue struggled at times to break out from the back, but their patience was rewarded with space at the other end, where Killian and Eoghan O’Gara looking consistently dangerous.

The latter’s morning ended quickly, though, when he was sent off for a shove only 15 minutes in with Synge Street leading 0-3 to 0-2 at the time. The verdict was perhaps a little harsh, though it had little immediate effect with the hosts quickly building a three point lead.

There was frustration amongst the Templeogue staff, though, that Fins were being gifted cheap points from defensive turnovers. Four of Fingallians six points before halftime – enough to lead 0-6 to 0-5 – had come from similar scenarios.

Fingallians started to expand their lead early in the second half with Lynch in particular a constant threat, feeding on the through balls of Flynn and Derek Rodgers. The Swords side led by three when Synge Street had a solid goal chance, saved from a tight angle by goalkeeper Ian O’Reilly.

Synger did take advantage of a period of pressure to close the gap to a single point, with Flynn having moved up top for Fingallians, the reduced impact of the Swords’ side’s midfield immediately apparent as they were briefly overrun.

Flynn had his own impact at the other end, of course, grabbing some smooth points from distance.

A skirmish saw two players booked, and straight off the back of it Dillon Staunton broke for Fingallians to grab a crucial goal on a solo break and put the Swords side well in charge with 15 remaining.

The game became bitty in the closing stages though Killian O’Gara’s class for Templeogue was apparent and the 14-men finished strongly without ever really threatening to overturn the lead of a Fingallians side that saw a late red themselves.

With both sides newly back in AFL1, there is a sense that points from games with some of their collective Dublin contingent are likely to be crucial to the season’s ultimate outcome: for composed Fingallians, this is an important two points.