Ravens remain in flight

by Stephen Findlater
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FINGAL Ravens’ boss Ian Donnelly admitted his overwhelming feeling of relief as his side scraped past local rivals St Finian’s 2-6 to 0-9 in Rolestown in their AFL Division 2 relegation playoff last Sunday morning.

The result sent Finian’s back to the third tier of league football while Ravens avoided the ignominy of a second successive relegation.

Speaking about the tie, Donnelly said it had been a tough 2012 for the club’s senior side.

“We weren’t expecting to be in this position as the season started but with lads missing, being away and injured, we just didn’t have a good year,” he said.

“Today was like a cup final; it was all about winning. At least we finished on a high and avoided getting relegated for a second time in two years and stop the rot.”

His side had begun in great fashion, Ciaran Norton’s goal underpinning a 1-6 to 0-2 half-time lead. But the Rivervalley side fought back with five successive points to make it incredibly tight in the second half.

Niall Tormey’s 48th minute penalty, however, all but settled the tie and finally gave Donnelly and his crew some breathing space after a tense week in the build-up to the derby.

His side, however, were in the best shape that they had been for some time with all of their top players available including All-Ireland winner Darren Daly

“To be honest, we were planning without Buttsy [Daly] this year because of the way it worked out. He has established himself now with the Dubs; it was a case of if he could play, great. We had a run of three or four wins but lost five games by a point. Confidence dropped after those three wins when we were losing games we could be winning.

“I was nervous all week. I didn’t care who we were going to be playing. We had nine subs today while there were times when we only had three or four subs during the season so it was great to have everyone out for this game. It’s an issue in every club with college lads travelling but a lot of teams out here in north County Dublin are probably hit a bit more.

He hopes that this near miss will serve as a spur for his side to be stronger in the coming year.

“Dropping to Division 2, I think some of the lads didn’t know how tough it was going to be but they know now and will be a bit more wary of what is ahead of them next year, the work rate and what is involved in winning games. This year was a big learning curve”

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