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Final reward for Ballinteer

Plunkett's put to sword in Belfield epic

Ballinteer St John's 1-22

St Oliver Plunkett's/ER 3-14

(After Extra-time)

AT UCD, the hurling emerged with a first class honours degree last Saturday afternoon.

John Hennessy of the CCC presented the Cup. He said to both teams. "Many of you will be getting the Dublin call."

Ballinteer captain, Joe Maher, accepted the trophy. He's at home speaking in Irish or English.

His words carried meaning. "This is the one we wanted. We trained in the sleet and the snow, and I think it showed out there.

"We have had disappointments coming up through the grades but we were determined to ensure that today was our day. Our management have given us so much.

"And it's special to win on the day that Christy Cooney is coming to our club. It's days like this that have you thinking of men like Liam Kennedy and Norrie Reynolds, who have been coaching us since we were able to walk."

Joe's speech was as good as the match, and that took some doing. The packed sidelines lapped up the action.

It was no surprise that normal time wasn't enough to separate them. The pre-match predictions suggested a close one.

Plunkett's were so near to glory. They led by a point as the tie ticked into the sixth minute of injury-time.

James Gilligan's free sent the tussle into extra-time. It was getting colder in Belfield, but the hot stuff continued out on the all-weather.

And this was a tie for all seasons. Its sharp tempo was set by the first point within the opening seconds from Plunkett's Sean McGuinness.

The free-taking was of a very high standard -- Ballinteer duo, Gilligan and Maher, and Finn Dunleavy of the Navan Road club.

Goalkeepers, Louis O'Flaherty and Darragh Carolan, earned their tea. Three times, Carolan made super saves to foil Maher.

Decent goal-chances were few. Defenders like the majestic Ballinteer centre half-back, Fionán Clabby, made sure of that.

Many of the points from play were also destined for the scrapbook. On the eve of Valentine's day, the efforts from Aidan Baird, Shane Bonfil, Dunleavy and Liam Corbett were the pick of the bunch.


So many golden daffodils to choose from. One came early on. Baird, a polished Plunkett's performer, struck a sweet sideline in front of the Ballinteer support. "Well done son, great strike," proclaimed Ballinteer mentor, Sean Lane.

The Marlay men made the sharper start. They led by five points to one after 10 minutes, but Plunkett's only trailed by a point at the break, 0-6 to 0-5.

It was the magnificent Maher who snapped in the first goal, pouncing on a long Gilligan delivery 10 minutes into the second half -- 1-8 to 0-7 for Ballinteer.

Ten minutes later, a brilliant Corbett goal tied it up on 1-9 apiece.

Gavin Byrne inched Ballinteer ahead but Dunleavy and Oisin Boland linked up to allow Shane Heffernan hit Plunkett's second goal to give them a two-point lead in the 56th minute.

Maher replied with a free.

Dunleavy saw a marvellous sideline stroke tumble back off the Ballinteer post. Three minutes into additional time, Maher equalised from play -- 2-9 to 1-12.

Corbett then sent over a classic. Plunkett's jubilation. But Gilligan's free ensured another 30 minutes -- 2-10 to 1-13.


Bonfil put Plunkett's ahead at the start of the extra-time, but it was the last time they were to lead.

Ballinteer were four points in front at half-time in extra-time, 1-19 to 2-12.

There was still plenty of energy in their legs and they were five points clear before, right on the blow, McGuinness nicked a goal.

The final, final whistle sounded as the puck out sailed through the sky. Ballinteer were in Heaven.