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john's joy

Ballinteer St John's grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat as they narrowly pipped a battling Thomas Davis by three points in their entertaining and hugely enjoyable Dublin Minor Football League Division 2 encounter at Loreto Park last Sunday morning.

With the visitors having erased a seven-point deficit to lead by a point with time almost up, Mícheál Ó Cróinín took advantage of a misplaced pass to race clear and his composed and precise finish was a fitting conclusion to a game that was enthralling viewing from the first whistle.

Granted, there were plenty of errors and misplaced passes punctuating the fixture but that could be expected given it was the first competitive fixture for both teams.

What was encouraging was the verve and attacking intent that both sides showed throughout with both managers deserving praise for the emphasis that was placed on score-getting rather than score-prevention.

Ó Cróinín will feel relieved at having secured the pivotal score of the game having spurned a number of presentable chances in the second-half but his all-round performance was hugely encouraging and his ability to run at pace and create chances was a feature of the game, most notably in the opening period.

The game started in a very open manner with Adam Halpin denied a goal inside two minutes as Thomas Davis looked to attack from the opening whistle.


The visitors were rewarded for their early pressure as Kieran Murray opened the scoring in the fifth minute and that lead was doubled almost instantly as Oisín Kelly calmly slotted over a free from 30 metres.

Kelly exerted a massive influence, most particularly in the first-half with his aerial ability and desire to join the attack handing the Kiltipper Road club a marked advantage at centrefield.

The hosts were largely living off scraps in the early stages but they took advantage of the chances that presented themselves by restoring parity by the tenth minute following successive scores from the lively Peter Flanagan and Daniel O'Leary.

After Kelly was denied a goal thanks to the sharp reflexes of St John's goalkeeper Pádraic Ó hEithir, the defensive uncertainty in the home defence was punished as Kelly added two points in quick succession, the latter a glorious strike off the outside of his boot.

The ebb and flow was maintained with Ó Cróinín making some searing runs down the left flank and Ballinteer once again found themselves on level terms following points by Flanagan and Jack Ball. Those scores preceded a period of dominance by the hosts and after Flanagan had struck two frees, St John's struck for the game's opening goal in the 30th minute with Stephen Mulvaney sweeping home from close range after Ó Cróinín was half blocked.


The second-half resumed with the hosts showing greater defensive certainty through the efforts of full-back Paddy Hopkins, Ó hEithir, Simon O'Reilly and Eoghan Fitzpatrick.

Ó hEithir was called into action once again as he denied Kelly from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute and Ballinteer built on that turning point to pull further ahead after scores by O'Leary and the hard-working Seán Casserly.

Despite leading by 1-12 to 0-8 after 45 minutes, Ballinteer were to endure a nervous conclusion to affair as Kelly kicked three points to complement a well-worked and smartly-taken goal by his midfield partner Gary Cummins in the 55th minute.

With the momentum having swung completely in Thomas Davis' favour, it proved a procession towards the home goal as Ballinteer struggled for primary possession and it was of scant surprise when they fell behind with just a minute left on the clock as Kelly, Cummins and substitute Craig Prendergast pointed for the by-now rampant visitors.

However, an error in the St John's half was punished at the finish by Ó Cróinín while Simon O'Reilly's injury-time point ensured an enthralling conclusion to 60 vibrant minutes of football.

Scorers - Ballinteer St John's: M Ó Cróinín 1-2, P Flanagan 0-4 (0-2f), S Mulvaney 1-0, D O'Leary 0-2, A Bradshaw, J Ball, J Brown, S Casserly, S O'Reilly 0-1 each. Thomas Davis: O Kelly 0-6 (0-4f), G Cummins 1-2, D Joyce, T Gregg, K Murray, A Walsh, C Prendergast 0-1 each.

Ballinteer St John's: P Ó hEithir; J Walsh, P Hopkins, E O'Flaherty; S O'Reilly, E Fitzpatrick, J Waters; A Bradshaw, P Flanagan; M Ó Cróinín, S Casserly, D O'Leary; S Mulvaney, J Brown, J Ball.Subs: C O'Dwyer for Mulvaney (37).

Thomas Davis: C Brennan; T Cronin, J Kealy, D Joyce; B Molloy, J McKenna, T Gregg; O Kelly, G Cummins; T Cummins, K Murray, P Byrne; A Walsh, D O'Neill, A Halpin. Subs: G Swan for O'Neill (37), C Nugent for T Cummins (47), C Prendergast for Molloy (50).

Mentors - Ballinteer St John's: Philip Fitzpatrick, Enda O'Dwyer, Joe Mulvaney, Eoin O'Flaherty, Shane McCann. Thomas Davis: Paul Nugent, Johnny Benton, Colm Clarke, Paul Hudson.

Referee: Billy O'Connell (Croí Ró Naofa).

Wides: Ballinteer St John's: 9 (5+4) Thomas Davis 6 (3+3).

Conditions: Glorious spring sunshine for the large part.

Player of the Match: Oisín Kelly (Thomas Davis).