Late goal sinks Cuala challenge
Substitute Naughton the match-winner for St John's
A late goal from substitute Luke Naughton proved decisive as Ballinteer St John's enjoyed a four-point success over Cuala in their Dublin SFC first-round encounter at O'Toole Park last Saturday teatime.
In a contest that was incredibly tight throughout, a period of extra-time looked distinctly possible before Naughton found space inside the Cuala rearguard to settle an encounter that ebbed and flowed throughout.
That the success was merited could not be argued with, as they played the more compelling and controlled football throughout, although Cuala were desperately unlucky five minutes from time when Matthew Clancy's close-range shot crashed off the crossbar, with Glenn Whelan compounding their misfortune when he scored a point for Ballinteer from the resultant counter-attack.
The contest started in a rather subdued manner but the lively Luke Keating opened the scoring for Cuala in the fourth minute.
However, a more direct St John's levelled matters soon after through an excellent point by Aodhán Clabby before Shane McCann inched them ahead in the seventh minute.
McCann's next contribution was even more important as he showed wonderful skill and composure to lob Darren McBrien for the game's solitary goal after he had escaped the attentions of Seán Drummond.
Cuala responded well to that setback through a Clancy point but scores by Ciaran McCabe, Fearghal Duffy and McCann ensured St John's enjoyed a narrow 1-5 to 0-7 interval lead.
Parity was restored within three minutes of the restart through a Keating free with the tightness of the clash reflected in the scores being level on five occasions during the second half.
Crucially, Cuala were never allowed to eke out a lead with David Devereux excelling in the Ballinteer defence and after Whelan and substitute Dara Spillane had exchanged points late on, extra-time seemed inevitable prior to Naughton's dramatic intervention.
Ballinteer St John's 2-10 Cuala 0-12
Scorers - Ballinteer St John's: S McCann 1-2, L Naughton 1-0, F Duffy 0-3 (3f), A Clabby 0-2, R Gaughan (f), G Whelan, C McCabe 0-1 each. Cuala: L Keating 0-6 (0-4f), D McBrien (2f), M Clancy 0-2 each, C Sheanon, D Spillane 0-1 each.
Ballinteer St John's: C O'Donnell; N Devereux, S McCaffrey, D Kennedy; A Field, P Mullan, D Devereux; P O'Curry, G Whelan; F Duffy, A Clabby, B Ó Coillearáin; C McCabe, R Gaughan, S McCann. Subs: C Brennan for McCabe (44), L Naughton for Ó Coillearáin (51).
Cuala: D McBrien; S Drummond, E Breathnach, F Spillane; M Fitzsimons, C Mullally, A Hudson; J Power, M Cahalin; R Scollard, S O'Brien, D McMahon; C Sheanon, M Clancy, L Keating. Subs: D Sexton for Scollard (24), D Lehmann for Sheanon (half-time), J Fitzsimons for F Spillane (37), S Dowling for Hudson (50), D Spillane for Keating (54).
Ref: Donal Ryan (St Patrick's Palmerstown).