Fingal’s hurlers celebrate their elevation to Division 2B after victory over Donegal at Breffini Park last weekend secured their place at the higher level

WHILE the NHL Division 3A title was retained, Fingal will draw so much more satisfaction from this year’s success after the 2012 debacle that saw Monaghan not field in the final.
This time round, despite the low-scoring 1-9 to 1-5 scoreline, the north Dublin region were always a few steps ahead of Donegal at a wind-swept Breffni Park to pin down promotion to division 2B next year.
It was a victory that owed much to the respective work being done in Malahide CS, Naomh Mearnog and St Sylvester’s who all had large representations in the panel.
Indeed, there was the unique sight of the school’s construction studies teacher Niall Feeney lining out alongside sixth year student Kevin O’Flynn.
Feeney has been part of the Fingal panel for the past four seasons and told GazetteSport that last weekend’s success is a huge moment for the regional side after last season’s low-key end to their campaign.
“In the dressing room before the final, the lads said ‘remember what it was like when we got that text three or four days before the final last year saying you’d won but aren’t going to play’. We couldn’t really celebrate that but we certainly celebrated this time.
“Playing for Fingal is a potential stepping stone for the Dublin senior team and the boys are really looking forward to playing in the Nicky Rackard next year.”
Six of St Sylvester’s inter hurling championship side — including Malahide CS alumni and Fingal skipper Andrew Richardson — played their part in the Donegal win, as did Feeney’s Naomh Mearnog clubmate Brian McCarthy, showing the extent of the local influence.
Despite conceding an early goal, Davy Smyth’s points helped pushed Fingal 0-6 to 1-1 ahead while a Peter Daly goal helped the side move up through the gears.
Substitute Ciaran Mathewson kept Donegal in touch, but Fingal held that extra edge and were resilient in the closing quarter with Kevin Campbell denied a late goal as the determined Dubliners held out for a four-point victory.
They now step up a tier to meet the likes of Meath, Roscommon, Down, Armagh and Mayo in 2014 but will also be pushing for reinstatement into the Nicky Rackard Cup after a two-year absence.
For a second year, the end of the league marks the end of their season but the intention is to get back into championship hurling next summer after two years building the side.
Part of that building process included the Fingal minors landing an All-Ireland C title last summer, while Malahide CS reached a Dublin senior B final, only losing by a point to Scoil Caitriona, and the U-14 side are in a C semi-final.