Molony's strike sees 'Boden through as Dempsey slams ref decisions
Ballyboden 1-11 St Loman's 0-9
Ballyboden St Enda's are on course to maintain Dublin's remarkable run of Leinster club success after Sam Molony's first-half goal proved the difference in a foul-ridden tie at Cusack Park, Mullingar.
Dublin sides have won eight of the last 12 provincial crowns and 'Boden may add another after proving too much for a below-par St Loman's in yesterday's semi-final.
After an even opening which left the sides tied at 0-5 each, Molony's three-pointer was telling with Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan brilliantly saving from Shane Dempsey just three minutes earlier.
Ballyboden went in four points ahead, 1-7 to 0-6, but they put the game to bed in the next five minutes with Dublin hurler Conal Keaney hitting three frees to open an unassailable seven-point lead.
Offaly referee Fergal Smyth drew the ire of the both camps, issuing eight yellow cards over the hour but Ken Casey deservedly saw red for a strike on Keaney late on.
St Loman's boss Luke Dempsey vented his frustration at the referee's influence on the game.
"The referee was the centre of attention out there," he said. "Andy McEntee and I just couldn't get over some of the decisions.
"Some of the decisions here were unfathomable. And that was very frustrating for both teams."
His opposite number McEntee said: "It was like a game of basketball. You put a hand on a fella and it's a free, that's disappointing."
However, the contribution of newcomer Molony was particularly satisfying for McEntee, particularly given his time waiting in the wings.
He said: "I thought Sam did really well. He's been really patient all year, he's been a Dublin U-21 and he hasn't been making the team. But he got an opportunity today and he took it."
On a day when freetakers hit 13 of the 20 points scored, Andrew Kerin opened proceedings with two placed balls before Westmeath star John Heslin responded with a free.
'Boden's full-forward line were dangerous throughout and Molony fired over a neat point from play but points from Heslin and Casey kicked Loman's 0-4 to 0-3 ahead.
Keaney (free) and Paul Sharry traded scores but Kerin levelled affairs in the 20th minute.
It was tit for tat up until then but the game's complexion quickly changed. Colm Basquel cut out a short kick-out to kick a fine point before Durcan saved excellently from Dempsey, getting his body in the way of a certain goal.
With Michael Darragh Macauley starting to exert influence around the middle, 'Boden surged ahead, hitting 1-1 within two minutes.
Molony finished to the net with aplomb before Kerin won possession under pressure and hit an excellent score on the turn.
Heslin converted an injury-time free but Keaney sent over three in a row on the resumption and effectively killed any hope of a comeback at 1-10 to 0-6.
The game became decidedly scrappy with a scoreless period of 13 minutes resulting in free after free, but crucially for 'Boden, Stephen Hiney and Shane Clayton were imperious in defence.
It took until the 48th minute for Heslin to add a free but Macauley replied with a fisted point after a barnstorming run.
Remarkably, that was their only score in the last 26 minutes and with 'Boden closing out the game, tempers boiled over and Casey was sent off in injury-time.
Dempsey felt things could have been different had they hit the net but he praised All-Star 'keeper Durcan, who hasn't been passed since their Dublin SFC quarter-final win over St Oliver Plunkett's.
"It was a turning point, probably the only goal chance we had, and you could see the merits in them bringing Paul Durcan home from Qatar," Dempsey said.
McEntee also stressed the value of Durcan, who quickly made his way to the airport after the game, and felt their ability to maximise their only goal chance was pivotal.
"He bloody well better be back for the final," he quipped. "He's under pressure but we hope to have him back. He's huge to us. He's got a calm head, he sees things others don't.
"Yet again the goal was the vital score. The goal was huge and it came at a good time for us, Loman's were getting a head of steam up."
McEntee hopes their work ethic will continue to pay dividends on December 6 when they meet seven-time Leinster champions Portlaoise in the final at O'Connor Park.
"They're a good bunch. There's probably nothing too spectacular about the way we play, we just work hard," he said. "Portlaoise will have an edge in experience but we haven't even thought about them yet."
Scorers - Ballyboden: S Molony 1-1, A Kerin (3f) and C Keaney (4f) 0-4 each, C Basquel and MD Macauley 0-1 each.
St Loman's: J Heslin 0-7 (6f), P Sharry and K Casey 0-1 each.
BALLYBODEN - P Durcan; B Dwan, S Hiney, S Clayton; S O'Connor, D Nelson, R McDaid; MD Macauley, D O'Mahoney; D O'Reilly, C Basquel, D Davey; C Keaney, S Molony, A Kerin. Subs: D McCabe for D Davey (48) and S Durkin for B Dwan (51).
ST LOMAN'S - J Daly; J O'Toole, N O'Toole, S Flynn; G Glennon, G Grehan, D Whelan; J Heslin, P Sharry; K Lynam, A Gaffney, D Windsor; K Casey, K Reilly, S Dempsey. Subs: C Reilly for Windsor (h-t), C Kilmurray for N O'Toole (38), R O'Toole for K Lynam (42), G Hickey for Dempsey (47).
REF - F Smyth (Offaly)