Connolly stars as St Vincent’s claim third All-Ireland crown
Forward scores 2-5 to help see off Castlebar challenge at Croke Park
Castlebar goalkeeper Ciaran Naughton saves from Ciaran Dorney of St Vincent’s during the AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Football Final at Croke Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
St Vincent’s 4-12 Castlebar Mitchels 2-11: Led by a dominant performance from Diarmuid Connolly, Dublin champions St Vincent’s pulled away in the second half to beat Castlebar Mitchels in today’s AIB All-Ireland club final. The Dublin forward was the most influential player on the field and ended up with 2-5 from play and a hand in numerous other scores – providing direct assists for another 2-3.
Before 31,472 spectators, the football final had an absorbing opening half in which Castlebar took the fight to their opponents. The match started sensationally badly for them with the sixth minute black card shown to one of their most important players, Richie Feeney, for colliding with Kevin Bonnie after the latter had released the ball – leaving referee Eddie Kinsella with no choice but to order him off with James Durcan replacing.
Castlebar responded well and although Michael Concarr broke for Vincent’s first goal in the ninth minute and a 1-2 to 0-2 lead, the Mayo champions came strongly into the match, their clever forward movement opening up acres of space and good shooting taking them level. By the 24th minute – with wing back Patrick Durcan having counter-attacked for three scores – they led by three, 0-8 to 1-2.
At the back, goalkeeper Ciarán Naughton had an immense first half – intervening to stop three one-on-one goal chances, including twice on Vincent’s full forward Ciarán Dorney, who eventually hit the mark by fisting Connolly’s pass to the net to level the match.
It was even at the break, 2-3 to 0-9 but if anything Castlebar had the momentum of marginal territorial advantage and having survived the concession of goals.
But the dam broke in the second half with Tomás Quinn – well marshalled for most of the match by Tom Cunniffe – shooting two points, one from a free, and Connolly opening a three-point gap. To Castlebar’s credit they weren’t finished and Danny Kirby followed up when the ever-threatening Neil Lydon’s shot came off the post and the ball was in the net.
At 1-11 to 2-7, it was the last time they would lead. Within two minutes – the 44th – a free from Cameron Diamond bounced over Dorney and Alan Feeney for Connolly to rise and flick the ball into the net.
A further 1-3 followed quickly – the goal from Connolly after he had been momentarily dispossessed by the hard working Eoghan O’Reilly. In the crowning moment of his man-of-the-match display he flicked up the ball with his right foot and hammered it into the net with his left.
The Mayo champions didn’t give up but a diving fisted goal by Kirby was as much as they had to show for their resistance by which stage Vincent’s were gliding home for a third All-Ireland title.
ST VINCENT’S: M Savage; K Bonnie, J Curley, H Gill; B Egan, G Brennan (capt), M Concarr (1-0) ; D Murphy, E Fennell; G Burke, D Connolly (2-5) , S Carthy (0-3) ; R Trainor (0-1) , C Dorney (1-0) , T Quinn (0-2, one free) . Subs: Tiernan Diamond for Burke (36 mins), C Diamond for Fennell (43 mins), K Golden (0-1, free) for Trainor (51 mins), A Baxter for Dorney (59 mins), N Mullins for Carthy (61 mins)
CASTLEBAR MITCHELS: C Naughton; T Cunniffe, A Feeney, D Newcombe; P Durcan (0-2) , E O’Reilly, R O’Malley; A Walsh (0-1) , G McDonagh; N Douglas (0-1) , R Feeney, D Kirby (2-0) ; N Lydon (0-3) , B Moran (0-1) , T King (0-2, both frees) . Subs: J Durcan for Douglas (50 mins), S Hopkins for McDonagh (58 mins), K Filan for F Durcan (62 mins). Black card: F Duncan (0-1) for R Feeney (6 mins).
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).