Garrycastle (Westmeath) 1-8 Ballyboden St Enda’s (Dublin) 0-6
Garrycastle secured their first ever Leinster Club SFC final appearance with a gutsy win over Ballyboden at Mullingar.
A heroic defensive performance, playing into a strong breeze, saw them concede just four points in the second half against a Boden side pressing desperately to get themselves back into contention.
The Metropolitans suffered a massive pre-match blow prior to throw-in when flu’ ruled ace attacker Conal Keaney out of the starting fifteen, and by the time the Dubs star did make an appearance 10 minutes from the end, it was too late.
While the Cusack Park surface was in remarkably good shape in spite of the weekend deluge, the gusting wind made life difficult for both times, but it was the home side which adapted better to the conditions.
Ballyboden’s short passing game, heavily influenced by weather conditions, saw them head into dead ends on repeated occasions, but it almost bagged them a goal in the ninth minute.
Midfielder Michael McCauley slipped the ball inside to Stephen Hiney, but as he swivelled, he sent his shot spinning just wide.
The Westmeath men also crafted a goal chance, but were denied first by goalkeeper Daire Walsh, who saved from Garry Dolan, then by full back Ian Clarke, positioned wisely on the goal line to keep out mark McCallon’s effort as he latched onto the rebound.
Garrycastle eased a couple of points clear through Paul Dillon, from a free, and Dessie Dolan, but St Enda’s were happy with their efforts up to that stage, although they still hadn’t scored by the 20th minute, when Hiney finally got them off the mark.
Garrycastle quickly responded with a volley of scores from Paddy Mulvihil, Dessie Dolan and James Duignan, and went in at the break leading by 0-5 to 0-2.
And there was no way back for Ballyboden when wing back Mark McCallon struck for the only goal of the game midway through the second half.
John Gaffey and David O’Shaughnessy played a vital part in the build-up, before Mulhihill offloaded to McCallon, who beat Walsh with a fiercely struck angled shot.
Earlier Simon Lambe and Dolan had swapped scores, and Ballyboden staged a minor revival when substitute Keaney converted a ’45 with his first touch, and an Andrew Kerin free narrowed the gap to four with five minutes to play.
But Gaffey, Doran Harte and Karl Henson defended with discipline, and the Westmeath men turned the game back in their favour once again, Gary Dolan and O’Shaughnessy thumping over the late points that saw them into the provincial decider.
Garrycastle: C Mullin, P Rattigan, J Gaffey, E Mulvihill, M McCallon (1-0), K Henson, D Harte, S O’Donoghue, D O’Shaughnessy (0-1), J Dolan, D Dolan (0-3, 1f), P Mulvihill (0-1), P Dillon (0-1, 1f), G Dolan (0-1), J Duignan (0-1).
Subs: T McHugh for Rattigan (14), A Browne for P Mulvihill, S O’Reilly for Dillon (54), D Hermbusche for J Dolan (60)
Ballyboden: D Walsh, J O’Hara, I Clarke, M O’Sullivan, D Nelson, D Kiernan, C Dolan, M McCauley, P Galvin, D Davey, S Hiney (0-1), C Smyth (0-1), S Durkin, S Lambert (0-1), A Kerin (0-2, 1f).
Subs: C Hiney for Davey (47), C Keaney (0-1, 1 ’45) for Dolan (50)
Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).