This first round game of the Championship was played at a dry and cold but windy Trim venue before a modest crowd. The outcome was decided by two fortuitous goals that edged it in favor of Na Fianna.
The Cilles played into a strong first breeze coming from the swimming pool end for the first half. In spite of this, they went into a three point lead with the first coming straight from a move up the left from the throw in that Shane Crilly put over the bar. This was followed by a trademark point from Graham Reilly and a free from Ben Brennan in the first five minutes. Na Fianna responded with three points from play to leave it all square after twelve minutes. With both sides trying to adjust to the conditions there were a number of wides by both sides before Na Fianna edged in front by two points by the twenty second minute. A slick Cilles move, led again by Shane Crilly, resulted in a Cilles free converted by Ben. A James Conlon point after twenty six minutes had the sides level again before Na Fianna completed the first half scoring with a pointed free. The half time score of St.Colmcilles 0-05: Na Fianna 0-06 left a winning championship start a reality for both sides.
The start of the second half could not have started better for Na Fianna when a free taken from the 45 meter line into the wind dropped short only to be fisted to the net by an attacker. The Cilles responded immediately with another point from Graham and it was clear at that stage that the game would go the wire. A fantastic save from Andrew Beakey resulted in a point for Ben to leave two points between the teams. Na Fianna then went on a scoring spree and added a goal and two points to their total to lead by double scores with another effort rebounding off the bar. The Cilles introduced Stephen Breen for Eoin Woods during this period after eight minutes of the second half.
Further changes by the Cilles saw Ciaran Kelly introduced for Davy O’Byrne and Ciaran Ward for Jeff Kavanagh with seventeen minutes to go. Their impact was immediate with points from James Conlon and Graham eating into the Na Fianna lead. A second yellow card resulted in Na Fianna being reduced to fourteen men. Three unanswered
points from Ciaran Kelly reduced the deficit to two points with approximately five minutes remaining. The Cilles had all the momentum at that stage and a Na Fianna point put three between the sides again. Some wayward shooting by the Cilles saw decent Cilles chances going astray. Two further points from Ciaran and Ben left only a point in it as the game entered injury time.
With all eyes on the referee, a Na Fianna attack saw another five save from Andrew Beakey in the Cilles goal at the expense of a 45. The 45 was again falling short and for the second time a Na Fianna fist got to the ball first and it ended in the Cilles net. Heartbreak for the Cilles players and supporters as time was almost up. Nevertheless they carried the ball upfield but were unable to bridge the four point gap with the referee blowing up the game with the final score of St. Colmcilles 0-14: Na Fianna 3-09.
The game showed the importance of goals with Na Fianna taking their goal chances and the Cilles unable to convert theirs. It was a good competitive game played in a good spirit. While the honours went to Na Fianna this time, there was plenty of positives for the Cilles lads. Next Championship outing for this team is on Thursday week again Simonstown in Ashbourne.
Scorers for St. Colmcilles: Ben Brennan 0-04 (2 f); Ciaran Kelly 0-04 (1 f); Graham Reilly 0-03; James Conlon 0-02; Shane Crilly 0-01.
St. Colmcilles: Andrew Beakey; Adam Lynch; Jeff Kavanagh; Kavanagh; Cathal Hilliard; Danny McMahon;
Thomas OhOistin; Carl Mullen; Ben Brennan; Rory O’Grady; Shane Crilly; Jack Reynolds; Eoin Woods;
James Conlon; Davy O’Byrne; Graham Reilly. Subs: Stephen Breen for Woods (38); Ciaran Ward for
Kavanagh and Ciaran Kelly for O’Byrne (43).