Tarf smash and grab!
Goals sink local rivals Scoil and seal title for Clontarf
THESE two teams were already guaranteed promotion to the Junior 'A' ranks for 2014. A dead rubber? Think again.
CLONTARF 3-11 SCOIL UI CHONAILL 0-12
A championship title is a rarity at the best of times for many clubs and when you throw in the mix the fact that Clontarf and Scoil Uí Chonaill are next-door neighbours, it's clear this wasn't going to be one for the faint-hearted.
It wasn't a classic – a single point was all the first 20 minutes could throw up – but it certainly was engaging. In the end, Clontarf managed to overcome a six-point deficit in the second half to break Scoil hearts.
Their three-goal haul in that period proved the difference. Indeed, the first two turned the game on its head. After Pádraic Naughton had put Scoil 0-9 to 0-3 up two minutes after the break the trophy seemed destined for the Coast Road.
But from a hopeful ball, 'Tarf pulled themselves back into contention as captain John Gleeson got a flick on a Jimmy Cantwell crossfield pass to put Eoin Cronin in.
The corner-forward looked like he'd run out of room but somehow managed to poke to the net. Thirty seconds later and another green flag was raised. This time it was Gleeson who profited from the confusion in the Scoil full-back line as he got in behind to apply a superb finish from a tight angle.
It all knocked the stuffing from Scoil as the winners took complete control to outscore their opponents by 1-8 to 0-3 in the final 20 minutes.
But while the immediate reaction will be to look at those two goals as the pivotal moments, Scoil will perhaps think differently upon reflection. One stat will make for hard reading. Fourteen wides, 10 coming in the first half when playing with the wind, is something that will play on their minds. In truth, they should have been much further ahead when Gleeson and Cronin did their magic, but poor decision-making and wayward shooting let them down. When they finally got their radar working, they were shot down before they had a chance to really develop any rhythm.
Gleeson opened the scoring inside the first minute with a fine score on the turn. But from there it became a war of attrition.
John Wall went close for Clontarf with a low drive that fizzed just past the post, but it wasn't until Neil O'Flynn split the posts on 20 minutes that another score was registered.
O'Flynn then set up Andy Bunnion to fire over again before Michael McCloskey, Darragh Ryan and a free from Seán O'Connor extended the lead to four.
Clontarf's midfield warrior, Damien Carew – who never stopped working for the entirety – popped over and an excellent Ronan O'Grady score quickly followed it as they remained in touch.
But Scoil finished the half strongly as a free each from goalkeeper Barry Cushen and O'Connor sandwiched O'Flynn's second to give them an 0-9 to 0-3 interval lead.
Then came the aforementioned two-goal smash-and-grab from which Scoil never recovered. Cronin in particular shone for Tarf during their golden patch, his injury-time score from the sideline a highlight of a fine individual display.
Scoil did battle to get back into it but despite the best efforts of the likes of Conor Coady and O'Flynn, it just wouldn't happen for them.
O'Grady rubbed further salt into their wounds with Tarf's third goal three minutes from time, to crown a famous day for the men in red.