Mary’s eye return to top ranks

By Hayden Moore

ST MARY’S are gearing up for the challenge of newly promoted Naomh Fionnbarra in their AFL Division Two opener this Sunday.

The Saggart side enjoyed a superb run in the Championship last season that saw them win nine out of 10 games before losing out to Thomas Davis in their first ever senior county final.

Blaine Kelly 2 Finagallians v St Marys Saggart SFC2 Semi Final 2018 photo Kryan OBrien

The experience of Blaine Kelly will be valuable for Mary's in their opener against Naomh Fionnbarra. (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)

Manager Jimmy Callaghan will be hoping his team can build on that performance when they come into Sunday’s clash in Pope John Paul II Park  saying “We’re not feeling the pressure at all because I think we have the momentum to be able to build on last year and do even better.”

“We finished very well last year, obviously making it to the County final, finishing mid-table in the league and we blooded a lot of younger players too.

“We’re a very young side, but they’re more seasoned now after last year so our goal this year is to get up the table and finish in the top end.”

Blooding a whole host of youth, the likes of Adam McCabe, Kyle and Rhys Butler, and James Timmins, should greatly benefit the senior team.

Former Dublin corner-forward Blaine Kelly will bring that experience to the table for Mary’s and his impact in the dressing room is second to none according to Callaghan.

He said: “Blaine has done it all and he’s an absolute professional in everything he does.

“He’s a mentor for the younger lads because he does everything right and sets an example.

“We really want to get a lot of the younger lads through while he’s still playing because I suppose our long-term ambition is to get back into Division One,” concluded Callaghan.

Elsewhere Round Towers will be aiming to right the wrongs of last year’s campaign when they welcome Na Fianna to Monastery Road on Sunday.

The Clondalkin side narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to Division One, but challenged Skerries Harps in a play-off game that ended with the latter clinching the final promotion berth.

Unlucky to miss out on that coveted return to the top ranks of Dublin club football, Towers take on a Na Fianna side this week that they drew with in the opening game of the football league last season.

St Patrick’s will be the side to welcome back Naomh Olaf back to Division Two, after they were dumped out of the second tier last year after failing to adjust to the physicality of the division.

However, the Palmerstown side will have a tough task and will be looking to set their season on the right track following a relegation play-off with Fingal Ravens last year.

Despite finishing three points ahead of them on the league table, Pat’s found themselves caught in battle to prevent a drop to Junior football but beat the Ravens 0-15 to 1-10.

Following their clash with Na Fianna on Sunday, they will travel to Saggart to take on St Mary’s in a tough local battle in March.

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