Deadly Dalton has hit a stunning tally in his last 12 games for flying Fr O'Neill's

Deadly Dalton has hit a stunning tally in his last 12 games for flying Fr O'Neill's

Fr O'Neill's Deccie Dalton shoots against Ballysaggart during the Munster IHC final Fraher Field, Dungarvan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

TWELVE games in 12 months, 11 wins and one heart-breaking defeat - that's the Fr Neill's championship story since this time last year. 

Even by their own lofty recent standards the events that have unfolded in this time frame have been quite remarkable. As they wait to learn if Newcestown or Bride Rovers will provide their opposition in the County Senior A Championship semi-final, a brief pause for reflection tells an interesting tale.

The Aghavine based outfit have in this period won their first County Premier Intermediate and Munster Intermediate titles, whilst reaching a Croke Park All-Ireland final for the second time in their history. A shattering blow was dealt late in stoppage time via Shane Walsh's match winning point for Tullaroan at the end of an epic joust. 

But after a longer than expected break, the players regrouped and have again hit the ground running with three straight wins in the group stage of Senior A Grade Championship, to leave them just 60 minutes away from another county final appearance. 

During this remarkable 12-month journey since early September 2019, Fr Neill's have registered a tally of 32 goals and 220 points - which equates to a very handsome average of just over a cumulative total of 26 points per match. 

While the template for success has been built around a huge team ethic, it's no surprise that one supreme marksman dominates the scoring statistics. Deadly Declan Dalton has shown his full skills set in this amazing display of accuracy. 

The imposing full-forward has registered a tally of 12-106, averaging almost 1-9 per match which in total converts to just under 45% of his sides total scores. Dalton has delivered points from ultra-long range frees, hammered home penalties, scored with sublime sideline cuts and set the pulses racing with some breath-taking goals and points from open play. 

His individual contribution to this odyssey just cannot be overlooked.

So, a new challenge against a club more seasoned at the higher grades awaits. Will it be Bride Rovers or Newcestown next up for this rapidly developing Fr Neill's outfit? 

Suffice to say that the other half of the draw featuring Charleville against the winners of the Kanturk v Bandon game offers equally exciting prospects.

"We would have taken your hand off being honest going into the start of the Championship to be straight into the semi-finals after three games," commented Fr Neill's joint-manager Dave Colbert.

"Hopefully we can get a good challenge match in advance of the semi-final and also get some of our injured players back fully fit again. This is a seriously competitive grade, so everybody has to be one per cent ready," he concluded.

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