Dowling's super strike turns game for Na Piarsaigh
All-Ireland SHC Club sf Na Piarsaigh 3-15 Slaughtneil . . 3-8
NA PIARSAIGH manager Shane O'Neill could do little at the end of his sides' impressive recovery against trailing Slaughtneil (Derry) by three points at half-time, but express his joy over Shane Dowling's goal that ended Saturday's All-Ireland club SHC semi-final at Parnell Park as a contest.
Despite losing Conor Boylan and Tommy Grimes to red cards just after half-time, the introduction of Dowling had a transformative effect on the game.
They were four points clear with ten minutes left when he produced a moment of sheer genius.
With Oisín O'Doherty looking to clear, Dowling nipped in with a brilliant block, scrambling to gather the loose ball before lifting it over Seán Cassidy's head and catching it shoulder-height like a rocket to the net.
"Shane's skill level is just pure class," his manager acknowledged.
"It was a brilliant finish he flicked it up for himself then just buried it very few players if anyone would be able to do that. That's the quality that he has and now hopefully we'll be able to get him back fully, fully fit for the final."
Facing Cuala in the St Patrick's Day decider, O'Neill declared this contest as, "The maddest one I've ever been involved with, without a doubt".
"To be down to 13 and then the composure that the lads showed on the ball and delivering the right ball, there's no point spraying ball into space when they had two extra men back there so the boys took it on themselves to just go direct and give it straight in.
"When they did it in fairness to Shane when he came on he must of won every ball that he got some way either got a touch on it or laid it off or passed it he was superb when he came on. Mad match but great to come out the other side of it."
Slaughtneil had got off to a great start, racing into the lead when Cormac O'Doherty converted a penalty. Although the Limerick men grabbed one themselves when Conor Boylan wriggled inside Seán Cassidy, it was cancelled out a minute later when Brendan Rogers unselfishly played Brian Cassidy in for a goal.
The introduction of Dowling changed everything and although Slaughtneil tired, their manager Michael McShane made only one change.
Ronan Lynch's excellence from placed ball formed a huge chunk of his 14 points (0-10f, 1 '65'), while Slaughtneil never truly got into matters for the second half despite having two extra men on the pitch.
"You'd think if you had two extra men, it would work to your advantage," stated McShane afterward.
"It made no difference to their defence.
"You have to give Na Piarsaigh credit, our inside line were totally on top in the first-half.
"We scored a goal and should've had another goal. We were getting a lot of mileage out of our inside line and the seemed to really tightened up in the second-half," he added.