St Gall's (Antrim) 1-12 Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 3-6
(St Gall’s won 3-2 on penalties)
A huge crowd turned up in Glenalbyn for the final of the Volkswagen senior football 7s as hosts Kilmacud Crokes reached the final but their hopes of retaining the title were dashed in a penalty shootout.
The tournament had begun at 11am on Saturday morning and the 32 teams were whittled down to two by the final, which was held seven hours later.
In what was one of the most competitive renewals ever, with three of the four quarter-finals going to penalties – including Kilmacud edging past Dublin rivals Thomas Davis and St Gall's sneaking past Kildare side Leixlip - it was perhaps no surprise that the decider would end in similar circumstances.
With the sun shining and the crowds gathering around the kickers, it was Kieran McGourty who planted the winning spot-kick, after Callum Pearson’s piledriver had rebounded off the underside of the crossbar and out.
Kevin Niblock will receive most of the plaudits though as he scored 1-8, including a goal and two points in the last two minutes to reel in a five-point deficit, while Niall O'Neill was outstanding too and was named man of the match.
For much of proceedings, it looked like Kilmacud would complete a 7s double, after winning the hurling equivalent a fortnight ago.
They led all the way until Niblock goaled in the very last attack, last year's man of the match Pat Burke opening the scoring from a free.
Aidan Jones scored a brilliant goal soon after Mark Kelly got St Gall's off the mark and they were well in touch at the interval, trailing by just 1-4 to 0-6.
Aidan Gribben made a brilliant save from Jones soon after the restart but Pearson finished with composure after the home side had carved out the goal chance magnificently.
Niblock kept the Saints in touch but when David Gough adjudged that Burke had been fouled in the square, the Clare forward picked himself up off the ground to finish with aplomb and make it 3-6 to 0-10.
But Niblock converted a couple of frees to get within three and the Antrim attacker was at the end of an excellent move to rescue his side before the penalty drama.
Scorers for St Gall’s: K Niblock 1-8 (0-6 frees); C Burke (0-2), M Kelly, R Wilson (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: P Burke 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-2 frees); A Jones (1-1); C Pearson (1-0); C O’Connor (0-2); A McGowan (0-1). Referee: D Gough (Meath)
RESULTS Quarter-finals – Thomas Davis 1-12 Kilmacud Crokes 1-12 (Kilmacud Crokes won 3-1 on penalties); St Olaf’s 2-10 Bellaghy 2-10 (Bellaghy won 2-1 on penalties); Carbury 3-9 Castlewellan 1-14; Leixlip 2-8 St Gall’s 2-8 (St Gall’s won 3-2 on penalties). Semi-finals Kilmacud Crokes 4-9 Bellaghy 0-10; Carbury 0-14 St Gall’s 1-9. Final St Gall’s 1-12 Kilmacud Crokes 3-6 (St Gall’s won 3-2 on penalties).