In the end, it all came down to a fisted point in the 59th minute from right corner-forward Cian Barry and he had only been back on the field a short time having been replaced at half-time.
It was also noteworthy that after having not held the lead since the 10th minute, the north city side only got back in front in the 52nd minute through full-forward Anthony Buckley – a major boost following the dismissal of impressive substitute John Paul Murphy for a second yellow card offence two minutes earlier.
Then, after Eric Hegarty’s 56th minute free for St. Michael’s levelled scores for the sixth time in the 56th minute, team-mate Mark Ryan had the misfortune to give away possession when in a scoring position. And, after Barry’s winning score, they lost two chances of securing a draw when midfielder Shane Buckley and Ryan each kicked wide in the closing minutes.
With the Blackrock side chasing victory for the first time since 1998 and St. Vincent’s champions six years ago, spectators witnessed a quality game which was competitive all through –and for a lot of it looking like going the other way. St. Vincent’s were two points up after three minutes and after losing that advantage in another two minutes, they briefly held the lead through team captain Jonathan Buckley’s 10th minute.
After that, it was a case of recovering to draw level on three occasions – in the 28th, 37th and 49th minutes – as St. Michael’s combined more effectively a lot of the time and drew inspiration from the scoring of Eoghan Buckley at right corner-forward. However, there was never more than a two point gap between the teams and St. Vincent’s’ challenge remained vibrant, aided by solid play from midfielder Stephen Ray and a strong work ethic.
Additionally, John Paul Murphy made an important contribution when pointing twice following his introduction in the 22nd minute. And, just like Donal Cremin for St. Michael’s in the 5th minute — when he hit a powerful shot over the bar from close range — Murphy was also in position to go for goal for his second score. At the break, it was 0-8 to 0-7 for St. Michael’s, who finished the half with five wides.
They lost a great chance of a goal minutes after the resumption when Paddy O’Shea saved a powerful shot from Mark Ryan. But, after Derek O’Connor had St. Vincent’s level by the 37th minute, they again opened up a two point advantage through the hard work and free-taking of Eoghan Buckley.
At this stage of the game, St. Vincent’s character was put to a severe test after three scoring chances had been spurned and Brian Kavanagh defied Anthony Buckley with a marvellous save in the 47th minute. But, after earlier missing a kickable free, Buckley put over the ’45 with ease, then equalised and, in the 52nd minute put them back in front.
After that, it was still anyone’s game, with St. Michael’s drawing level through Eric Hegarty’s late free – before Cian Barry’s point decided the outcome.
Scorers for St. Vincent’s: A. Buckley 0-4 (1f, ’45); D. O’Connor 0-3; J. Buckley (1f) and J. P. Murphy 0-2 each; C. Barry 0-1.
Scorers for St. Michael’s: E. Buckley 0-5 (3f); E. Hegarty 0-4 (1f); D. Cremin and M. Ryan 0-1 each.
ST. VINCENTS: P. O’Shea; W. Murphy, P. Aherne, D. O’Regan; D. Collins, K. Goulding, T. O’Connell; S. Ray, S. Buckley; J. Buckley (capt.), K. Lynch, D. O’Connor; C. Barry, A. Buckley, A. Harte.
Subs: J.P. Murphy for A. Buckley (22); A. Buckley for Barry (ht); A. O’Callaghan for J. Buckley (38); C. Barry for Lynch (54); D. Duggan for Collins (58).
ST. MICHAELS: B. Kavanagh; B. O’Sullivan, R. Dineen (capt.), D. Crowley; A. Murphy, A. Ó Drisceoil, C. Kilcoyne; S. O’Sullivan, W. Kennedy; D. Cremin, M. Mulconry, M. Drummond; E. Buckley, M. Ryan, E. Hegarty. Subs: S. O’Keeffe for O’Sullivan and P. Cronin for Cremin (46).
Referee: James Bermingham (Bride Rovers).