Watched by a packed Parnell Park crowd, the Marino club retained their county crown in spite of some dismal shooting, particularly in the second half. Diarmuid Connolly was guilty for a few of them but he was the best player on an evening which hardly showcased just how strong football is in the capital right now.
Instead of quality, there was some uncharacteristically poor football from proven players and a multitude of head injuries incurred yet referee David O’Connor saw fit to issue only four yellow cards in total, three to St Vincent’s. After the clubs’ recent clashes, there wasn’t going to much love lost between the two although it never truly spilled over despite some tasty match-ups.
Vincent’s led from the fifth minute and their advantage was rarely challenged although they did go 18 minutes without a score across the halves. If Ballymun were out of sorts in the first half, they were out of ideas in the second. Davey Byrne played in a more advanced role but other than Carl Keeley’s neat exchange with Dean Rock, which prompted a great save by Michael Savage in the 51st minute, they lacked a punch up front.
Ballymun came within two points of St Vincent’s on two occasions early in the second half but the reigning champions always had too much for them. A Rock free was cancelled out by a fisted Enda Varley point. The first of two Jason Whelan scores was matched by Tomás Quinn pointing after weaving Alan Hubbard inside and out. Whelan’s second followed a Quinn free but then Shane Carty split the posts to open a four-point gap in the 49th minute.
Keeley’s shot was then deflected over the bar by Savage but that’s where the scoring ended. Quinn looked to have an easy free to put Vincent’s out of reach only to be penalised for time-wasting. Rock also had a late free only to angle it wide while Connolly sent wide his third attempt of the second half.
The only thing Ballymun could be thankful for after the opening half was that St Vincent’s were still in sight. At one stage, the margin was five before scores from Keeley and a Rock free in the dying minutes before the break gave them a timely gee-up.
Before that, the half belonged to Connolly, who apart from helping himself to 1-1 also teed up team-mates for a couple of points as well as Quinn’s first goal chance in the ninth minute. Connolly intercepted a James Burke pass to lay the ball on to his former county colleague only for Eoin Dolan to deny Quinn.
Connolly, however, was successful with his 13th minute effort, calmly side-footing the ball off his left foot past Evan Comerford after Lorcan Galvin sent the ball his way. It gave St Vincent’s a two-point advantage, which they increased to five in the space of eight minutes, Connolly taking advantage of a Ballymun mix-up for a 22nd minute point. Either side of that, he was laying off ball to Gavin Burke and Craig Wilson for scores.
Philly McMahon had been assigned to detail his Dublin team-mate but struggled to match his energy even with Byrne for company as a sweeper. The tactic damned Ballymun in the first half as St Vincent’s easily crowded out ball into their half of the field while Ger Brennan was regularly available for outlet ball.
James McCarthy’s massive shoulder on Nathan Mullins 19 seconds into the game should have been a signal of intent for Ballymun but it was only towards the end of the half that he and the club’s other inter-county stars like Rock and John Small found their feet. Rock’s dreadful pass, intended for McCarthy, but taken by Enda Varley in the 22nd minute was indicative of the team’s lack of cohesiveness. Small’s ridiculously ambitious attempt at a goal in additional time said little about Ballymun and yet everything.
It could have been so much worse had Quinn not been denied a second goal in the 23rd minute, having completed a one-two move with Varley, by the butt of Comerford’s right-hand post. To be 1-4 to 0-4 down couldn’t have been more flattering for their opponents but they were rightly disposed of in the end.
For St Vincent’s, it’s a 28th senior title and a Leinster quarter-final clash with Rathnew on November 12.
D. Connolly (1-1); E. Varley, T. Quinn (0-2, 1 free each); G. Burke, C. Wilson, S. Carty (0-1 each).
D. Rock (0-3, frees); J. Whelan, C. Keeley (0-2 each); J. Small (0-1).
M. Savage; M. Concarr, J. Curley, C. Wilson; B. Egan, G. Brennan, Cameron Diamond; L. Galvin, N. Mullins; G. Burke, S. Carty, Cormac Diamond; D. Connolly, E. Varley, T. Quinn.
D. Murphy for L. Galvin (inj h-t); R. Trainor for E. Varley (inj 43); J. Feeney for G Burke (50); T. Diamond for Cormac Diamond (inj 57); E. Fennell for N. Mullins (60+3); L. Sheehy for Cameron Diamond (60+5).
E. Comerford; A. Hubbard, P. McMahon, E. Dolan; D. Byrne; C. Keeley, J. Small, J. Burke; A. Elliott, J. McCarthy; J. Whelan, D. Rock, K. Leahy; E. O’Neill, P. Small.
C. Hulton for K. Leahy (45); T. Furman for E. O’Neill (57).
D. O’Connor (Fingal Ravens).