Na Fianna advance to semi-finals
The concession of three goals proved costly for Longwood as Na Fianna took full advantage to claim their place in the SHC semi-finals with a 3-13 to 0-11 victory at Pairc tailteann this evening.
Playing into the teeth of the strong wind that blew from the hospital end Na Fianna started brightly with the excellent Mark Slevin pointing after 11 seconds.
Anthony Healy responded almost immediately with a converted free, but Barry Slevin made a mockery of the strong wind by posting a massive point from a free well inside his own 65-metre line to restore Na Fianna's lead and in the eighth minute Mark Slevin clipped over his second to make it 0-3 to 0-1.
It was a dream start for Na Fianna playing against the wind, but Longwood settled with two Anthony Healy frees either side of a superb score from Damien Healy ensuring a 0-4 to 0-3 lead at the water break.
However that was the only time Longwood led.
When play resumed Shane Walsh quickly restored parity before Barry Slevin edged Na Fianna in front from a '65'. Then disaster struck for goalkeeper Enda Dixon's as his clearance was blocked down and led to Shane Walsh's simple goal which made it 1-5 to 0-4.
Longwood's response was impressive with Aaron Ennis and Ryan Moore pointing from play either side of a Damien Healy free to close the gap to the minimum, but then disaster struck again as they allowed Ethan Devine race clear and drive a low shot to the net five minutes into first-half injury-time.
There was still time for Aaron Ennis to pull a point back before the break and close the gap to 0-8 to 2-5 at the interval.
Karl Ennis opened his account a minute after the restart and after Peter Slevin and Sean Coloe traded points the deficit was 0-10 to 2-6 and the outcome was in the melting pot.
However 30 seconds later that pot reached boiling point with Mark Slevin firing a brilliant third goal which added three points to Na Fianna's tally but knocked Longwood for six.
Boosted by that third goal Na Fianna punished sloppy Longwood defending with two frees from Mark Slevin as well as one from play and a converted free from Barry Slevin to stretch Na Fianna's lead to 3-10 to 0-10.
Damien Healy ended a 10 minute barren spell with what proved to be Longwood's final score and after the second water break Na Fianna coasted to victory with Mark Slevin and Barry Slevin converting frees to sandwich a Devine point and wrap up a comfortable win.
There was still time for Dixon to see red after a clash with Kelly, but it was all inconsequential as Na Fianna secured a place in the semi-finals and promotion to Group A for the 2021 SHC.
Na Fianna - Mark Slevin 1-6 three; Barry Slevin 0-4 three frees, one '65'; Shane Walsh 1-1; Ethan Devine 1-1; Peter Slevin 0-1.
Longwood - Anthony Healy 0-3 frees; Damien Healy 0-3 two frees; Aaron Ennis 0-2; Ryan Moore 0-1; Karl Ennis 0-1; Sean Coloe 0-1.
Na Fianna - Eoin Reilly; Stephen Slevin, Diarmuid Bailey, Sean Coffey; Noel O'Sullivan, Oisin McCloskey, Evan Mullally; Ethan Devine, Peter Slevin; Sean Martin, Mark Slevin, Daniel Devine; Shane Walsh, Barry Slevin, Will Flynn. Subs - Luke Kelly for D Devine half-time, Rian Kelly for M Slevin, Cian Slattery for Flynn 57 mins.
Longwood – Enda Dixon; Kevin Maguire, Ross Kerrigan, Paul Gill; Mickey Burke, Karl Ennis, Damien Healy; Sean Coloe, Ryan Moore; Bob Maguire, Anthony Healy, Gavin Griffith; Aaron Ennis, Jim Dorran, Niall Mulvey. Subs - Johnny Furey for Dorran 45 mins, Cathal Campbell for Griffith 57m.
Referee - Killian Jones (Kildare).