AN injury-time goal from Peter O'Curry helped Ballinteer St John's record a dramatic one-point shock victory over St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh in their absorbing Dublin SFC first round tie in Newcastle last night.
BALLINTEER ST JOHN'S 2-9 ST OLIVER PLUNKETT'S/ER 1-11
With St John's trailing by a point, O'Curry rose highest to fist a Fergal Duffy free to the net and Plunkett's last chance of salvation was spurned as Bernard Brogan lofted a 40-metre free wide to prompt scenes of delirium from the Ballinteer support.
It was a fitting conclusion to a wonderful spectacle played in difficult conditions with Plunkett's taking the early initiative through points from Garreth Smith and corner-back Paddy Bergin.
St John's replied through a fine score from late replacement Jack Gilligan but Plunkett's were enjoying a greater degree of possession and pulled three points clear through scores by Jason Sherlock and Brogan.
Crucially, St John's plundered the first goal of the game in the 13th minute when Duffy put the finishing touches to a wonderful team move involving Robbie Gaughan and Aodhán Clabby, drawing the sides level in the process.
The half petered out from that point with two late frees by Smith ensuring a narrow 0-6 to 1-2 interval lead for Plunkett's, albeit with John's enjoying the breeze at their backs upon the restart.
It proved beneficial as Paul Cronin, Duffy and Clabby helped Ballinteer to the front but substitute Paddy McNulty and Leigh Herron replied for the Navan Road men to help restore their prominence.
Ross McConnell's role was especially influential at this juncture and the game seemed to be slipping from Ballinteer's grasp when Smith found the net in the 58th minute.
But the drama was not over with O'Curry's late intervention the conclusion that the high quality and intense contest merited.
SCORERS - Ballinteer St John's: F Duffy 1-3 (0-3f), P O'Curry 1-0, J Gilligan 0-3, P Cronin 0-2, A Clabby 0-1. St Oliver Plunkett's/ER: G Smith 1-5 (0-4f), P McNulty 0-2, J Sherlock, L Herron, B Brogan, P Bergin 0-1 each.
BALLINTEER ST JOHN'S: C O'Donnell; D Devereux, N Devereux, C Egan; C McCabe, S McCaffery, K Nolan; J Gilligan, P O'Curry; R Gaughan, J Gillick, F Duffy; J Oliver, A Clabby, P Cronin. Subs: C McDaid for Gillick (ht).
ST OLIVER PLUNKETT'S/ER: D Woods; P Bergin, P Curtin, J Brogan; J O'Donoghue, M Brides, L Fleming; C Dunleavy, R McConnell; D Matthews, L Herron, N Walsh; G Smith, B Brogan, J Sherlock. Subs: P McNulty for Walsh (35), C Walsh for Bergin (41).
REF: K Tighe (St Anne's).