'See you in Coppers' - Ballyboden hero Aran Waters celebrates club's first-ever Leinster title
Aran Waters was the unlikely hero for Ballyboden as the half back popped up a minute from time to kick a fine point and win the Leinster Club Football title for the Dublin men.
Ballyboden’s win means that Dublin clubs have now won the competition four times in a row and ten times since 2003.
This was the sixth time in a row that Portlaoise has lost to Dublin sides in the competition and their third final loss to Dublin clubs.
This defeat will hurt the most. They should at least have taken the final into extra time but top scorer Paul Cahillane screwed a simple looking 13m free left and wide of the post in the second minute of injury time.
Midfielder Conor Boyle missed a more difficult opportunity immediately afterwards from play and prior to Waters’ late point for Ballyboden the Laois champions squandered a 45.
It won’t be much consolation to Portlaoise but this was an epic contest. The underfoot conditions were slippery and at times both team’s decision to play possession football led to unnecessary turnovers.
But for effort, endeavour and sheer will to win there few games in 2015 to equal this tie.
Ballyboden had a dream start when the ace goal poacher Andrew Kerins’ miss-hit soccer style shot rolled past the Portlaoise goalkeeper to give the Dublin kingpins a 1-1 to 0-1 advantage in the early stages.
But after Ballyboden had forged 1-3 to 0-2 ahead Portlaoise took control and four unanswered points brought the sides level with half time approaching.
Ballyboden edged back in front but the drama was only starting. Firstly a high ball into the Ballyboden goalmouth deflected off Paul Cahillane and ended up in the net.
Advantage Portlaoise and their fans were still celebrating when Ballyboden struck back with Dublin star Michael Darragh Macauley finding the net in injury time to give his side a 2-4 to 1-6 advantage at the break.
There were no more goals in the contest and scores were at a premium in a tense second half. The key moment came in the final quarter when Brian McCormack got through the crowded Ballyboden defence and angled his shot for the left hand corner of the net
But Donegal All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Paul Durcan – who returned from Doha where he is now based to play in the game - got his finger tips to the shot and he did enough to push the ball off the post. Portlaoise did take the lead immediately afterwards but failed to add to their tally.
Conal Keaney’s frees were crucial for Ballyboden and they had level before the late drama saw then home and a place in next February All-Ireland club semi-final against the winners of next Sunday’s quarter final between Clonmel Commercials and Tir Chonail Gaels from London.
Portlaoise: Graham Brody; John Delaney, Cahir Healy, David Seale; Eoghan Whelan, Kieran Lillis, Brian Mulligan; Dean Cullen, Conor Boyle; Gareth Dillon, Craig Rodgers, Brian Glynn; Brian McCormack, Paul Cahillane, Brian Smyth
Subs: 12. Conor Dunphy for Cullen (13), 19. Colin Finn for Whelan (24-26), 18. Ricky Maher for Dillon (52).
Ballyboden: Paul Durcan; Bob Dwan, Stephen Hiney, Shane Clayton; Stephen O’Connor, Darragh Nelson, Robbie McDaid; Michael Darragh Macauley, Declan O’Mahoney; Darren Reilly, Colm Basquel, Daniel Davey, Sam Molony, Conal Keaney, Andrew Kerin.
Subs: 12. Sean Gibbons for Davey (33), 7. Aran Waters for O’Reilly (42), 21. Shane Durkin for O’Connor (47), 19. Donagh McCabe for O’Mahony (63).