Ita’s had wrestled the early momentum but a 20-minute scoreless spell either side of the interval was thoroughly punished by Dungourney, who scored a game-winning 1-9 without reply.
“This feeling is unreal,” said man-of-the-match Ryan Denny on the final whistle. “To bring Jamesey back for a fourth time now, it’s brilliant stuff. I was watching on the sideline four years ago and you can see how much it means to everyone. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
A practice match last week was vital in shaping Dungourney for this decider, as Denny left the constraints of corner-forward to impress in midfield with a display that foreshadowed his final role.
Meanwhile, Jack Griffin also excelled after some time away and he added a spark when introduced early on for captain Kevin Rohan.
A point from Griffin with his first touch sent the sides into half-time on an equal footing, 0-10 to 1-7, though manager Brian Ronayne still had worries about his team: “We felt at half- time we didn’t perform. We were disappointed with our workrate and our general thinking wasn’t up to scratch.
“So we’d a good word with the players at half-time and they were buzzing coming out. They wanted to come out two minutes earlier only we had to keep the door closed.” he said.
Having arrested Ita’s momentum, Dungourney went on to blow that door off its hinges. They reeled off seven scores in seven minutes, including braces of points from Bill Ahern and Griffin and concluding with a goal, flicked in by Shane Casey.
From three-up to nine-down, Ita’s needed a miracle. It looked like they might get it too when Padraig O’Brien, despite diving the wrong way, saved from Casey as the ball clipped his heel. Two minutes later Ciaran O’Brien’s long-range free dropped into the opposite net.
On such six-point swings games are turned. Dungourney weren’t going to let a young Ita’s team back so easily and with Stephan Hickey and James McCarthy clearing mountains of ball for Denny and Shane Hegarty to turn into scores, they had enough in reserve to hold out.
It was a tough pill for Ita’s who had started so brightly. All-Star Seamus Harnedy scored a trio of battling points, Sean Supple added two more and Pedro Geary powered in a 15th-minute goal.
But in front of a large crowd, Dungourney checked that impetus and channelled it into a second-half storm.
R Denny (0-11, 7 frees, 2 65s); S Hegarty (0-4); S Casey (1-0); J Griffin, B Ahern (0-3 each); K Kelleher (0-2).
S Harnedy (0-5, 2 frees); C O’Brien (free), P Geary (1-0 each); S Supple (0-3), P O’Brien (free), E Loughlin, D O’Brien, A Loughlin (0-1 each).
D Hennessy; E Ahern, M Hegarty, M Wall; S Hickey, J McCarthy, J Leahy; N Motherway, R Denny; Kenneth Kelleher, S Casey, K Rohan; B Ahern, S Hegarty, P Harney.
J Griffin for Rohan (27), Kevin Kelleher for Harney (58).
P O’Brien; M Cunningham, B McCarthy, M Coleman; N Foley, D O’Brien, F Foley; C O’Brien, C Savage; C Deane, S Harnedy, M Barry; S Supple, E Loughlin, P Geary.
E Coleman for N Foley (41), A Loughlin for Supple (53).
P Beausang (Midleton)