AFL 2: Round Tower 1-9 v Naomh Mearnóg 0-10, Abbotstown, Sunday 5th March.
12 months previous our Senior Footballers came off the back of a cup success over Naomh Mearnóg and were then humbled in their opening day league fixture. The start to our 2017 campaign is different. Round Tower edged a tight, low-scoring contest between both sides that was played at the GAA Centre of Excellence in Abbotstown, It was a gritty win for Towers, with some excellent defending starting from keeper Gary Cleary and progressing throughout the side providing the platform for the two points. Report by PRO Mick McGlynn. View Tommy Keogh’s pictures of the game here.
Towers opened their league account after four minutes. A precise pass by James Kelly into full forward Darragh Kinnevey led to a free that was converted by Thomas Galvin. Kinnevey, a new addition to the team, caused great trouble for the north Dublin side with his gathering of possession on a fast slippy, surface and his subsequent attacking of a retreating defence. On five minutes Mearnóg levelled and they edged clear with a free from the right. An excellent score from the right gave them a two point lead margin. Towers were playing against a strong breeze so it was important to keep on the Mearnóg tails. Kinnevey narrowed the deficit to one when he picked up on the right and jinked inside his marker to then kick successfully under pressure. Two were kicked by Mearnóg before Mick Hallows fed into Kevin McGibney and he won a free that he picked himself up to subsequently convert. The resulting kickout was seized upon by Kinnevey and he struck from range straight over. The Portmarnock side responded when their corner forward jinked inside to convert and a pivotal moment in the game came six minutes before the break. A pacy Mearnóg move through the middle led to a one-on-one with keeper Cleary and he spread his body to block a low goalbound effort. Towers reduced the deficit to just a point before the break. Again Kinnevey did really well as a targetman in the full forward line and the supporting Ian Ward, playing at centre-half-forward, was dragged to the ground. The free was moved in for dissent and McGibney slotted to leave the deficit at the minimum.
Within two minutes of the break the game was level. Micheál Walsh dispossessed and Kelly and Hallows combined well before the onrushing Ward was fouled. Thomas Galvin kicked the free. A hallmark of the Towers performance was excellent kick-outs from Cleary, with two highlights being long range passes to Hallows during the second period. Mearnóg edged another point clear and they missed a great goalscoring opportunity when their forward dragged his strike to the left of the post when one-on-one,. Both sides kicked successive wides before strong running again from Kinnevey led to him being pulled to the ground and Galvin tapped the equaliser. With 15 to go Ward edged Towers ahead when he combined with Hallows to create the space to strike over. Cleary was forced to make another stop the other end, with a Mearnóg midfielder striking well across goal but the Towers keeper palmed the strike towards his top left corner away to safety. Dublin player Shane Carthy struck after quick thinking from a 45 to leave the game level heading into the final ten. The pivotal moment arrived with ten to go. The Mearnóg keeper failed to hold a Kinnevey effort for a point and Galvin pounced to palm into the net. There was plenty of time for Mearnóg to respond. They kicked a free from close range with seven remaining. They probed but Carthy was forced to strike from distance and his effort did not have the required accuracy. Towers emphasis was on retaining possession and they were successful in doing so. When Walsh spotted an opening he fed inside to Kinnevey and another free was drawn. Ward tapped over on the sixty minute mark to leave the deficit at three. In injury time Mearnóg worked possession up field but could not work a goal opportunity and a point was kicked from the left. It was the final act of our league opener. Two points are on the board for a Towers side that boasted a number of new faces. A trip to Donabate Sunday week is next up.
Round Tower: Gary Cleary, Niall Byrne, Derek Murray, Dan Gregg, James Kelly, Barry Keane, Michael Cleary, Trevor Clendenning, Shane Byrne, Mick Hallows, Ian Ward, Micheál Walsh, Thomas Galvin, Darragh Kinnevey, Kevin McGibney. Used subs: Liam Connolly, Conor L’Estrange, Darren Gilligan, Niall Corless