The Vins defender strode forward to kick the winner in the 59th minute of a blood and thunder replay — the only occasion that Vins actually led.
The Marino men trailed the holders by five points early in the game, just like they did at one point in last Sunday’s drawn encounter. But they showed incredible encourage to fight back once again in a game that contained two red cards.
Dublin ace Diarmuid Connolly was shown a straight red with five minutes to go in an incident that led to county colleague Philip McMahon’s second yellow for ’Mun.
The flashpoint occurred in the midst of a stirring Vins revival, having trailed by three at half-time and by the same margin with 12 minutes left. McMahon was enraged to be sent off and clashed with the Vins bench as he left the field. But the incident only spurred Vins who drew level with three minutes left before Diamond kicked the winner.
The wing-back was picked out on the right wing by Ruairi Trainor and held his nerve in testing conditions to secure their first title since 2007, when they went on to win the All-Ireland. Their reward is an AIB Leinster Club quarter-final date with St Loman’s of Westmeath in Mullingar this Sunday.
For the second game running, they fell behind and made life difficult early on. They were hit for 1-1 inside the opening three minutes as Dean Rock, who finished with 1-5, converted a free and then rifled home a penalty.
When Ted Furman opened his account in the fifth minute, the ’Mun held a commanding 1-2 to 0-0 lead. But if the stalemate of 72 hours earlier taught Ballymun anything, it was that five point leads can be fickle. They blew a five point advantage late in normal time last weekend and were reeled in this time too.
Connolly booted a beautiful point from the right wing to get Vins going. And with 17 minutes on the clock Tomas Quinn shook off a couple of bad misses to play in Ciarán Dorney for an open goal. Soon after, Quinn won a free and converted it himself to level it up at 1-2 to 1-2.
Ballymun pulled clear again to lead 1-5 to 1-2 at half-time.
Quinn converted two frees after the restart for Vincent’s. But they were cancelled out by scores from ex-Dublin forward Derek Byrne and Rock to maintain the three point gap. Still, a flash of genius from the subdued Quinn left Vins just 1-8 to 1-6 down when he pointed from way out on the right wing. And when he converted his fourth free after being fouled by McMahon there was just one in it.
It set the scene for a thrilling final 10 minutes that boiled over when both players were dismissed with five minutes remaining. It galvanised Vins because they drew level with a wonderful Kevin Golden free before Diamond’s incisive finish.
St Vincent’s scorers: T Quinn 0-5 (0-4f), C Dorney 1-0, D Connolly 0-2, K Golden (0-1f) and Cameron Diamond 0-1 each.
Ballymun Kickhams: D Rock 1-5 (1-0p, 0-4f), T Furman, Derek Byrne and L O’Donovan 0-1 each.
M Savage; M Concarr, J Curley, H Gill; Cameron Diamond, G Brennan, B Egan; D Murphy, E Fennell; G Burke, D Connolly, S Carthy; R Trainor, C Dorney, T Quinn.
Subs: K Golden (0-1; 1f) for Murphy 41, A Baxter for Carthy 43, N Mullins for Dorney 55, R Pocock for Trainor 62.
S Currie; P McMahon, S George, Eoin Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Small; Davey Byrne, J McCarthy; E Reilly, A O’Brien, K Leahy; T Furman, D Rock, L O’Donovan.
Subs: Derek Byrne (0-1) for O’Brien 24, C Burke for O’Donovan 55, M Brady for Leahy 60.
Referee: D Sheppard (Round Tower, Lusk).