COLAISTE CHIARAIN 1-12, HARTSTOWN CS 3-5 - Jack Barrett was the hero in Tom Russell Park on Tuesday afternoon, as his stoppage-time point gave Coláiste Chiaráin victory over Hartstown Community School in a Dublin Schools Juvenile Football 'D' semi-final played in extremely misty conditions.
Significant levels of fog had descended upon the St Brigid's GAA grounds for this tie, and though the game did go ahead, the quality of play was severely affected by the adverse weather.
Hartstown, in particular, had their path to goal distorted in the opening half, although they did open the scoring six minutes in courtesy of a point from a tight angle by full-forward Jamie Hanley.
Indeed, the Clonsilla outfit were on top of possession in the early stages, but Chiaráin's did eventually restore parity with a free from centre-forward Barrett after 14 minutes of play. This helped to settle the nerves of the Leixlip boys, who added to their tally with a goal from midfielder Darragh Higgins two minutes later from close range.
Barrett's first score from play increased their cushion to four, but Hartstown discovered an extra gear as the half drew to a close, with two excellent majors from centre-field pairing Luke Momoh and Mike Nzingo, either side of a Dylan Garrett point, suddenly turning the game on its head.
The increasingly influential Barrett did halt this scoring sequence with a 28th-minute point, but Garrett's second of the afternoon ensured that Hartstown had three to spare (2-3 to 1-3) during the interval.
Thankfully for all concerned, the fog cleared substantially by the time the second period began, meaning that Chiaráin's would not be hindered in their approach for the closing 30 minutes of action.
Hartstown drew first blood once more through half-forward Adam Meehan, but Chiaráin's were beginning to bring cohesion to their attacking play, and five points on the trot from Barrett (2), Cameron Christedalides (2) and Shane Stokes (free) moved them back into a slender lead (1-8 to 2-4) with 20 minutes remaining.
Perhaps the main reason behind the winner's response after the break, however, was the form of wing back Jack Travers. He had number seven on his back but he was the creative hub for his team, bursting forward to set up scores at every opportunity and never shirking his defensive duties.
The winners were hit with another hammer blow, though, when Meehan buried brilliantly to the bottom corner of TJ O'Gundele's goal with a cracking left-footed drive, as Hartstown forced their way back into the ascendancy.
This tested the resolve of Chiaráin's, but even though they were wasteful with some of their opportunities, they showed great character to cancel out Meehan's goal with a brace of points from the ever-reliable Barrett and one from the impressive Christedalides.
It looked like extra-time was beckoning when Hanley kicked a 21-metre free between the posts, but Barrett and Coláiste Chiaráin had different ideas, as the dynamic No 11's free to the right of the posts was expertly converted, resulting in the north Kildare side's passage to the 'D' decider after an entertaining clash.
Scorers - Coláiste Chiaráin: J Barrett 0-8 (3f), C Christedalides 0-3 (1f), D Higgins 1-0, S Stokes 0-1 (f). Hartstown CS: A Meehan 1-1, M Nzingo, L Momoh 1-0 each, J Hanley (1f), D Garrett (1f) 0-2 each.
Coláiste Chiaráin: TJ O'Gundele; J Noonan, L Ginnetty, C Keating; J Killeen, K O'Gundele, J Travers; N Costello, D Higgins; B Sweeney, J Barrett, C Christedalides; S Stokes, S Ayeni, D Turley. Sub: E O'Brien for Sweeney (38).
Hartstown CS: A Molloy; A Bakare, A Lyons, D Doyle; P Bzozowski, S O'Rourke, A Keogh; L Momoh, M Nzingo; C McGarry, A Lawal, A Meehan; C Keogh, J Hanley, D Garrett. Subs: A Moran for Momoh (h-t), J Cummins for McGarry (47), Momoh for Lawal (54).
Referee: F McGreevy (St Oliver Plunkett's/ER).