The Stars got off to the perfect start, when after an early free was driven in by Jack McNamara the ball broke eventually to Stephen Casey who fired to the net. Fingallians quickly replied with a decent point from their corner forward and the next 15 minutes was not for the faint hearted. A flurry of hard hits, tackling and challenges emphasised the very do-or-die attitude required from both sides in the circumstances. Fingallians had given a walkover in their first round while Réalt Dearg had benefitted from Whitehall’s failure to field. By the quarter mark of the half, the Stars had opened up a 5 point gap 1-3 to 0-1 after some very good scores from McNamara and Paul Warren but gradually Fingallians came more into the game and had a number of goal chances luckily averted as the half progressed. At the half time whistle, the scoreline had changed but he gap hadn’t with the Stars still 5 in front at 1-6 to 0-4.
The second half saw the tempo increase if anything with Fingallians switching to more direct tactics and this reaped greater dividend. Their first goal came after a long ball from the wing forward hit the post and rebounded right into the path of the on-running corner forward who had the simplest of tasks in hammering home to an empty net. Réalt Dearg responded well though with McNamara again coming to the fore and Shane Murphy also getting a valuable score. This put the Stars 5 up again 1-8 to 1-3 but from here until the dying minutes, it was all Fingallians. They hit the next 2 goals in quick succession following significant dominance on the breaking ball in midfield and some great work by their forwards and therefore led by 3-4 to 1-8. The Stars responded and both sides exchanged scores until another Fingallians goal put them in the driving seat once more. Despite this, the imperious McNamara kept the Stars in touch and a brilliant score from Mick Butler left the sides level with little time to play at 4-5 to 1-14.
After an incredible miss from Fingallians freetaker, Réalt Dearg were awarded a free at the other end with time virtually up. McNamara again stepped up to fire over. However the last twist came when Caoimhin Concannon was harshly penalised for a free on his own 21 to see the Fingallians full back come up and draw his side level with the resulting free. At the end the draw was more than justified as both sides can feel both lucky and unlucky to come away with a point. Best for Réalt Dearg were Barry Ruth, Paul Warren, Colm Brennan, Jack McNamara, Tom Kehoe and Stephen Casey.
Réalt Dearg B face St. Finnians next on May 19th in Swords.
by Cathal Mulkere