St Vincent’s emerge victorious after another epic battle with Ballymun

Vincent’s scored the last four points of the game to take their first title since 2007

DUBLIN SFC FINAL REPLAY: St Vincent’s 1-9 Ballymun Kickhams 1-8

Heffo would have been delighted. In the year St Vincent’s lost the man who made them what they are, their return to pre-eminence in the Dublin championship looks apt when you see it in black and white. Yet they had to come through the mother and father of battles to get there, with 2012 champions Ballymun carried out on their shields.

In a frenzied closing period that saw county stars Diarmuid Connolly and Philly McMahon both sent off – and McMahon going for Connolly on the sideline as he walked off the pitch – Vincent's scored the last four points of the game to take their first title since 2007. Just when it looked like they might have to endure another couple of periods of extra-time, wing-back Cameron Diamond loped forward to kick a raucous winner in the 69th minute. Try as they might, Ballymun had no reply.

For long stretches, it was clear that the fireworks of the drawn game left gunpowder stocks well-depleted for the replay. The players looked just about exactly how you’d imagine two sides who’d traded blows all the way though extra-time 72 hours earlier should.

Tired legs, tired minds, mistakes and missteps by the hatful. Though the Marino club ended up the victors, the spoils could belong to St Loman’s of Mullingar come Sunday night.

That said, Ballymun will wonder how they didn't hold out here. They started the quicker, played the sharper stuff early on and could have been out of sight inside the opening quarter of an hour. Dean Rock could have had a goal in the second minute but punched wide with the goal at his mercy.


Made amends
He made amends a minute later. The high ball in on top of the Vincent's full back line was causing problems already and when Rock took another soon after and fed Ted Furman, it needed a block from goalkeeper Michael Savage to keep him out. Unfortunately for Savage, the referee decided it was a foot-block and spread his arms for penalty. Rock buried it to the top left-hand corner and the champions were 1-1 to 0-0 ahead.

It took Vincents a while to find their sea legs after that. A fine Connolly effort settled them and by the 20th minute they were level. They struck for a goal of their own after Mossy Quinn's tenacity led to Ciaran Dorney being presented with an simple finish and Quinn himself followed up with a free soon after.

Still, amid all the mistakes, it was Ballymun who were keeping their head the better. Rock finished the half with three points on the spin, one of them a terrific shot from distance.


Spilling wides
And Vincent's were spilling wides all the while. When Derek Byrne came out and kicked the first point after the restart for Ballymun, it put them 1-6 to 1-2 ahead.

They looked for all the world like a side that was going to close out a professional performance with their second title in two years. But when Vincent’s needed someone to step up, it was Quinn who got his mojo rising.

A great point on the run on 33 minutes was followed by a free to bring the gap down to two. When Rock replied with a free of his own, Connolly somehow wriggled himself the room to score the point of the night with three Ballymun defenders around him.

The speed of the game was lifting now, and with it the quality. Liam O’Donovan sprinted in off the sideline on 46 minutes to fist a point for Ballymun and put three between the sides again. You would have seen long odds in running at that point for a Vincent’s win.


Tenacious point
But Quinn put his hand up again. With 12 minutes to go, he engineered a tenacious point from out on the right and before clipping over a free three minutes later. McMahon was lucky enough to stay on after that foul – having already picked up a yellow card in the first half – and when he and Connolly clashed soon after it ended in a straight red for the Vincent's man and a second yellow for McMahon.

With temperatures boiling, Vincent's worked another free near the right sideline and substitute Kevin Golden came up to fire it over from a tricky angle. With time ticking dead, the game needed a hero.

Positions meant nothing. A scrap for ball in midfield, everyone drawn to the ball. Diamond inching forward unnoticed out on the right. A ball into space. A kick for the posts.

Champions.

BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: S Currie; P McMahon, S George, E Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Small; Davy Byrne, K Connolly; E Reilly, D Rock (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees), K Leahy; A O'Brien, T Furman (0-1), L O'Donovan (0-1). Subs: Derek Byrne (0-1) for O'Brien (23 mins), C Burke for O'Donovan ( 56 mins), M Brady for Leahy (60 mins).
ST VINCENT'S: M Savage; B Egan, J Curley, H Gill; C Diamond (0-1), G Brennan, M Concarr; D Murphy, E Fennell; G Burke, D Connolly (0-2), S Carthy; R Trainor, C Dorney (1-0), T Quinn (0-5, 0-4 frees). Subs: K Golden (0-1, free) for Murphy (39 mins), A Baxter for Carthy (43 mins), N Mullins for Dorney ( 55 mins), R Noonan for Trainor (61 mins).
Referee: Darragh Sheppard

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times

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