During the course of an entertaining PIFC third round game at the excellently appointed Mayfield GAA grounds, last year’s runners-up were second best to a well-drilled, more disciplined Nemo side, one inspired by 19-year-old tyro Jack Donovan Donovan looks to have a bright future, and, although wearing the No 5 shirt, the half back directed some lovely kick-passes to his forwards while also showing no fear in front of goal (he notched 1-2), his major coming at a crucial point in the second half.
Up front the Nemo full forward triumvirate of Ryan Kennedy, Conor O’Donovan and Conor Horgan between them scored 1-11, while veterans Brian Twomey and Seán O’Brien called on all their experience to bear in an impressive team display by the Trabeg men.
Na Piarsaigh now must prepare for a relegation final against Ballinora, and face that game without influential veteran, Steven Glasgow, who was red-carded just before half time.
With so much at stake there was bound to be an edge to this cross-city derby. A hard-hitting, sometimes uncompromising, contest had its flashpoints with referee John Bermingham forced to show three black cards(Patrick Rourke, 26mins, Shane Martin 30 mins, Keith Buckley 44mins) and one red card (Glasgow 30mins) in a game that threatened to boil over.
And Glasgow had been Na Piarsaigh’s most influential player in a first half that appeared to be slipping from the Fairhill boys. One barnstorming run by the midfielder just before the interval saw him cynically by Shane Martin. They scuffled, Martin saw black and Glasgow red for apparent retaliation.
Na Piarsaigh started promisingly and, after even minutes, led 1-1 to 0-2, the goal finished on a rebound by John Gardiner from a Seán Warren penalty while the delightfully skilful pair of Conor O’Donovan and Conor Horgan shot Nemo’s openers.
Then it all clicked for Nemo as they attacked in waves. Driven on impressively from the back by Brian Twomey and Shane Martin and up front by Kennedy, O’Donovan and Horgan, they did severe damage to a porous Na Piarsaigh defence in which Seán Óg Ó hAilpín cut a subdued figure at centre back.
Nemo rattled off eight successive points, the pick of which was Martin’s on 22 minutes, who took two heavy hits before nonchalantly arcing the ball between the posts.
Na Piarsaigh did get one back on 28 minutes through Alan Hogan before Glasgow’s promising run ended in personal disaster.
After the break Nemo management moved their extra man, Seán O’Brien, in behind their half back line in a sweeper role but Na PIarsaigh started brightly notching three in a row from Warren, Keith Buckley and Cian O’Mahony to make it 0-10 to 1-5 by the 38th minute.
Nemo were struggling to find their range but suddenly they rediscovered their groove led by Jack Donovan. Given his tender years, Donovan showed remarkable leadership. First he pointed off his instep in the 39th minute before finishing convincingly to the net in a move that involved Twomey and Kevin O’Donovan.
Conor O’Donovan(2) and Jack Donovan moved Nemo nine clear before Warren’s side-line effort in the 47th minute floated fortuitously to the top corner. Seven minutes later Teu Ó hAilpín got a hand to an outfield ball from Eoin Moynihan, and, when Gardiner added a point with three minutes remaining, there were just two between the sides.
However, a combination of ill-discipline and poor option-taking contrived to undo a complete Na Piarsaigh comeback, their low-point coming in injury time when Conor O’Donovan forced the ball to the net after a mix-up from a sideline ball played to Jordan O’Conor.
C O’Donovan 1-5; J Donovan 1-2; C Horgan 0-4 (0-1f); R Kennedy 0-2 (fs); S Martin 0-1.
J Gardiner and S Warren 1-1 each; T Ó hAilpín 1-0; C O’Mahony 0-2; A Hogan and K Buckley 0-1 each.
D Farry; D Barrett, E Weldon, B Twomey; J Donovan, S Martin, K Weldon; M Dorgan, C Kearin; D Kearney, C Dalton, D Kerins; R Kennedy, C Donovan, C Horgan.
Subs: S O’Brien for Kearney (20); K O’Donovan for Kerins (30); G Irwin for Martin (bc, ht); E McCarthy for Horgan (60).
J O’Connor; A Dennehy, E Moynihan, S O’Sullivan; J McDonnell, S Óg Ó hAilpín, T Lawton; S Glasgow, P Rourke; K Buckley, A Hogan, C O’Mahony; S Warren, T Ó hAilpín, J Gardiner.
Subs: P Murphy for Rourke (bc, 27), C Buckley for Hogan (43); P Lynch for Buckley (bc, 44); E Gunning.
J Bermingham (Bride Rovers)