MAYNOOTH PP 1-9
MALAHIDE CS 0-7
A strong bench proved to be the difference in this hard-fought Dublin Schools Senior Football semi-final at the DCU Sportsgrounds on Tuesday, as a physically imposing Maynooth Post Primary side overcame Malahide Community School to progress to a decider against St Benildus College.
Played a week later than originally planned, it was the Kildare side that opened the scoring just two minutes in thanks to a 25-metre free from corner-forward Chris Canning. Malahide did settle well after this, though, and only for some fine defensive cover by Maynooth full-back Cian Egan, Kevin O'Flynn might well have found the back of Darragh Corcoran's net on six minutes.
However, Malahide's first score arrived just two minutes later courtesy of a terrific long-range free from centre-forward Fionn Cahill, and they almost immediately took the lead when the pacy Danny Zaleke profited from a misplaced pass by Maynooth midfielder Neil Delaney.
The Dublin school were certainly looking like the slicker outfit, but Maynooth soon regained the lead thanks to a point apiece from Josh Gunne and Simon Mackey.
Malahide were moving the ball quickly into their forward line though, and this yielded further points from Zaleke, midfielder Conor Meaney (who profited from another poor Maynooth clearance) and Cahill.
Yet, they were also quite wasteful in front of the posts, and a delightful Hugh Breen point for Maynooth on 26 minutes meant there was only the bare minimum between the sides at the break (0-5 to 0-4).
This left spectators none the wiser as to who was going to be victorious, and chances did prove to be few and far between after the re-start.
What opportunities there were did fall to Maynooth, though, and after a five-minute period where they struggled to find the target, they got it right with scores from Mackey (free) and half-time substitute Neil Flynn.
This gave Maynooth the belief that they could go on to win the game and after seeing off a number of dangerous attacks from their opponents, they increased their lead on 52 minutes thanks to a second Flynn point after fellow sub Mark Donnellan had dropped a free short.
Malahide were not ready to give up without a fight, though, and a brace of points from Cahill put the sides on level terms with just five minutes remaining.
But the fresh legs of Maynooth proved pivotal as a brilliant individual point by Donnellan, the current Kildare minor 'keeper, was followed by Mackey's third point.
A supremely taken goal by sub Ciarán Kearney in stoppage time (from a sublime Donnellan pass) then edged Maynooth over the line, putting them in a great position to add some silverware to the All-Ireland Vocational School's Senior B title that they secured in Tipperary Town on Saturday last.
SCORERS -- Maynooth PP: C Kearney 1-0, S Mackey 0-3 (2f), N Flynn 0-2, C Canning (f), H Breen, J Gunne, M Donnellan 0-1 each. Malahide CS: F Cahill 0-4 (3f), D Zaleke 0-2, C Meaney 0-1.
MAYNOOTH PP: D Corcoran; R Maguire, C Egan, H Faherty; J Walsh, C O'Donoghue, S Higgins; N Delaney, J Durcan; S Mackey, S Guiney, B Murray; C Canning, H Breen, J Gunne. Subs: N Flynn for Canning (ht), C Kearney for Guiney (44), M Donnellan for Breen (50).
MALAHIDE CS: S O'Brien; B Shalloe, E Byrne, C Ryan; S Woods, M Barry, P Connolly; C McCarthy, C Meaney; D Zaleke, F Cahill, G McGrath; M Hazley, S Keogh, K O'Flynn. Subs: J Ferguson for Keogh (39).
Ref: Dermot Deasy (Ballymun Kickhams).