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 Na Piarsiagh's Aaron Higgins in action against Aghada's Pearse O'Neill in the PIFC clash at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Gavin Browne
Na Piarsiagh's Aaron Higgins in action against Aghada's Pearse O'Neill in the PIFC clash at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Gavin Browne
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

A blend of youth and experience got Na Piarsaigh off to a flying start

THEY might come from a hurling stronghold, but when Na Piarsaigh put their minds to it, they’re capable of making an impact on the football front.

Having struggled in both codes last season, they got off to a flier last Sunday by upsetting Aghada after extra-time in the first round of the PIFC. Shane Forde fisted-over what turned out to be the winning point, while the northsiders got a significant return from Alan Hogan and Cian O’Mahony, as well, in attack.

Na Piarsiagh's Shane Forde passes off the ball against Aghada's Jordan Tynan on Sunday. Picture: Gavin Browne
Na Piarsiagh's Shane Forde passes off the ball against Aghada's Jordan Tynan on Sunday. Picture: Gavin Browne

Pa Rourke thundered into the game in the latter stages, Pádraig Guest was a magnet for ball up-top, and Aaron Higgins, Keith Buckley, Gordon Joyce, and Eoin Moynihan left it all out there.

“After the year we had in 2018, we needed a positive start,” said Alan Daly, who is the club chairman and on the football management team with Ted Moynihan and Paul Farmer. “There are new people involved in all the teams in the club, through to adult level, and that’s made a difference.

“We’ve just freshened-up across the board. We’re training as a collective, instead of two separate panels, but then we focus on Thursday on football.

“We don’t have the same population to draw on that we had before. It’s a mature area now. To be fair, our Féile team qualified for the semi-final, so that was a boost. We don’t have the numbers, but we have to mind them.

“We had five players playing in Páirc Uí Rinn for the first time and that was a great way to experience it for them.”

After going four points down early on and trailing 0-12 to 0-8 after 48 minutes, Na Piarsaigh showed grit and composure.

“We’ve actually had bad starts in all our league matches, so we didn’t let that throw us. We played Millstreet on the Tuesday night before and we picked up three injuries, unfortunately: Evan Sheehan, Kelvin Forde and Greg Healy, we all ruled out.

“We won all bar one of the league games and we set up a pattern of play that suits the players we have. Don’t give away the football: that’s the most important thing for us. We have players with a lot of variation in what they can do: we’ve 19-year-olds, we’ve 35-year-olds, so if we think about what we do in possession, support each other, we can do well.

“We have a few dual players alright, but maybe not as many in the starting 15 as we’d have had before. They are still seven or eight of them who’ll be playing senior hurling, but that’s not too hard.”

Alan Hogan lines up a shot from Aghada's Conor O'Driscoll. Picture: Gavin Browne
Alan Hogan lines up a shot from Aghada's Conor O'Driscoll. Picture: Gavin Browne

Daly was delighted with the young guns, but also the veterans.

“You need your leaders. Mahony is 35, but he’s as good a footballer as we’ve put through the club. He’s a smashing player.

“Pa is moving very well this year. He really came into that, as the game went on.

“A lot of it is about attitude. We’ve always had good players, but you need to have a bit of focus. Hopefully, the lads can make that last.

“We’ve Killeagh in the hurling in two weeks and they can push away now.”