Plunkett's up to Vins rally
Carolan save staves off Marino men for deserved 'C' title
ST OLIVER PLUNKETT'S/ER saw off a late St Vincent's rally to capture the Dublin JHC 'C' honours at Chanel on Sunday afternoon.
ST OLIVER PLUNKETT'S/ER 3-14 ST VINCENT'S 1-17
Two first-half goals set the winners on their way and, when they got a third just after half-time to put them eight points up, it looked as if they would cruise home.
Not so, as the Marino men dug in to battle their way back, but just couldn't force the scores to bring them level, despite a huge total of eight minutes injury-time.
Plunkett's were deserved winners. Even when Vinnies enjoyed their purple patch, the Navan Road men were always able to keep their noses in front and find ways to work scores just as they were getting reeled in.
They must also be hugely grateful to their goalkeeper Darragh Carolan, who made an outstanding save in added time which ultimately decided this contest.
Eoghan Ruadh got off to a flying start and had a goal after three minutes when Brendan Bennett hammered home. It caused confusion, however, as the sliotar went through the net and, to most spectators in Parnell's impressive new grounds, appeared to go wide.
Centre-forward Mick Malone popped over a brace of points in the opening stages, while Seán Meehan, impressive throughout, also chipped in.
Vins kept chipping away, however. Midfielder and former Dublin senior ace Damien Russell was showing his class as he sent over two excellent scores.
But at the end of the first quarter, the winners had their second goal. And it was a brilliant piece of skill. Bennett's free from the right sideline was dropping around 25 metres short of the Vincent's goal. But, from nowhere, corner-forward James Cantwell doubled up on the ball and volleyed it into the bottom corner.
It was a hammer blow for Vins, who were just beginning to build some momentum.
Bennett added another free to push the gap out to eight. But indiscipline was costing them as Russell fired over a long-range free before corner-forward Conor Dunleavy added three more.
Bennett broke the sequence with a dead ball of his own and he and Cantwell would trade scores again before Bennett ensured Plunkett's held a two goal cushion at the break, 2-7 to 0-7.
Cantwell was showing that he would split the posts with every opportunity, and he continued where he left off within a minute of the restart.
But then came the third goal for the champions. Full-forward Mark Devlin saw his effort at a point drop off the post and Meehan, now operating in the corner, pounced to drill the loose ball first time into the net, pushing them eight clear again.
To their credit, Vincent's responded and, on 40 minutes, Cantwell sent a free to the net via a number of deflections to give them some hope.
Russell then popped up with a monster score from inside his own half, before Eamonn O'Connor also got his name on the scoresheet.
Russell clipped over another to leave just four between them entering the final 10 minutes.
Meehan hit back with two excellent scores to settle his side's nerves, but it was all Vincent's now, and four from Cantwell left two between them in what was a frantic closing quarter.
Centre-back Tom Russell then came close for Vins, with a rasping goal effort blocked away by Carolan.
The stopper would prove the hero two minutes into injury-time, however, when, after Cantwell cut the gap to just one, he somehow got down to stop Kevin Lillis' goal effort.
It was to be Vincent's last foray into opposition territory as Plunkett's shut up shop and two late Bennett frees ensured the silverware was bound for Martin Savage Park.