AFL 2, 7th September 2017, Round Tower
A strong Na Fianna side came to Clondalkin and ended Round Tower’s AFL2 campaign and our hopes of a league play-off opportunity, writes Mick McGlynn. A nightmare opening ten minutes put us on the back foot throughout and it was to the players credit the half-time deficit was just two points after failing to get a foothold in the game for the opening quarter.
It was all Na Fianna. Their quick interchanges left the Towers defence backtracking. Towers went long but the visitors were winning in the air and picking up the breaks, with their half-backs joining their half-forwards in being instrumental in starting attacks. They found the net after two minutes, with excellent interplay from the half forward line leading to the full forward being clear on goal and he slipped under Dean Alford. Towers trailed 1-4 v 0 on the 11 minute mark. It was a superb Thomas Galvin score that registered our first. Played into space in the left corner by Barry Keane, Galvin rounded his marker and kicked from the left side from range. Na Fianna continued to torment, responding with two points. Towers badly wanted a goal and it almost arrived when Darragh Kinnevey did well to shield his marker and Ian Ward broke in on goal., His low strike was palmed away by the keeper. Our second point arrived courtesy of a James Kelly free, with Galvin having released Ward for a scoring opportunity before he was tripped. The momentum shifted towards Towers. Jason Joyce angled a pass to Ward and Joyce onrushing picked the return pass. He was tripped and Conor L’Estrange tapped the free. Na Fianna notched another but we’d a greater stranglehold on the game. Ward won well in the inside forwards and the supporting Michéal Walsh was hauled down. It had presented a goal opportunity. The free was tapped and Kelly and Walsh then combined to release Niall Byrne in behind the Na Fianna rearguard. The angle was tight and he fisted for a point. The 1-8 v 0-5 six point deficit was halved two minutes before the break. Galvin outpaced his marker and cut inside. He released to the onrushing L’Estrange and he finished to the roof of the net. Galvin provided another assist for Joyce whose low strike towards goal was deflected for a point, leaving two the deficit at half-time, Na Fianna 1-8 v Round Tower 1-6.
The momentum of the closing period of the first half initially carried into the second. Towers were bringing to their play greater aggression in their tackling. Michael Cleary, who’d made a very good impact in at full forward for the injured Kinnevey, was fouled and L’Estrange kicked the free from distance. A dispossession by Ward led to Walsh striking over from the left. Level at this stage, it was disappointingly the best it got. Playing with the aid of a strong wind, Na Fianna re-assumed the control they’d brought to the opening quarter of the game. The momentum turned on the 42nd minute when a long-arching pass was well fielded and the supporting number 5 broke inside for a goal. Towers struggled to work it to their inside forwards and Na Fianna eeked out the necessary points to edge them six clear. A Cathal Carty free was the last of our return and that for the night.
Naomh Mearnóg’s win Saturday moved Towers into sixth, thus ending their chance of a play-off place. Raheny with two games still to play could still edge out Mearnóg.
Round Tower: Dean Alford, Daniel Gregg, Derek Murray, Sean Ó Donnagáin, Niall Byrne, Jason Murphy, Barry Keane, Mick Hallows, Jason Joyce, James Kelly, Ian Ward, Michéal Walsh, Thomas Galvin, Darragh Kinneavy, Conor L’Estrange. Used subs: Michael Cleary, Shane Byrne, Liam Connolly, Kevin McGibney, Cathal Carty.