FORWARD key as Chiaráin's raze 'Barrs in extra-time
CRAOBH CHIARAIN 4-12
NH FIONNBARRA 1-18
A CARL SAMMON goal in the opening period of extra time ultimately proved to be the difference at O'Toole Park on Saturday afternoon as Craobh Chiaráin secured the Dublin Under-16 'B' Hurling Championship title at the end of a titanic battle with a determined Naomh Fionnbarra.
Both sides settled comfortably into the contest early on, as Conor Ryan and Sammon were on hand to cancel out earlier Fionnbarra efforts by Chris O'Brien and centre-back Darren Langan (free).
Craobh had been forced to field without the services of injured captain Mark Hayes, but they hit their opponents with a sucker punch nine minutes in, when inside forward Cian Derwin deftly flicked a dangerous sideline cut past Fionnbarra netminder Seán Carey from close-range.
This had a major impact on the Donnycarney club's performance levels, and they were eight points to the good by the 18th minute thanks to a 1-2 salvo from Sammon – the goal arriving from a somewhat speculative effort from the left-wing – and a point from the industrious Seán Nibbs.
Half-forward Jason Roe did find the target for Fionnbarra during this juncture, but further scores courtesy of Sammon (two) and James Finn helped Craobh increase their cushion to 10.
Yet, Fionnbarra did give themselves a fighting chance with much-needed stoppage time points from Langan (two) and Glen Dodrill.
Craobh held a seven-point advantage (2-8 to 0-7) at the midway stage, but victory wasn't necessarily beyond the reach of the Cabra outfit.
Indeed, with a strong wind at their backs after the restart, Fionnbarra increased the tempo dramatically, and forced their way back into contention during the pivotal third quarter.
A trio of scores from Langan, as well as contributions by Dylan Curley (who featured alongside Dodrill and Gavin Longmore in St Declan's CBS' Junior 'B' triumph at the same venue last Wednesday) and Roe, meant just two points separated the teams with 15 minutes left.
A 47th-minute Ryan point calmed the nerves of Chiaráin's and, when Paul Kelly followed up a Seán McDonnell score for Fionnbarra with a fantastic goal from play, it looked like they were set to emerge victorious. However, another brace of pointed frees from Langan fuelled a late charge for the 'Barrs.
Consequently, when substitute Carol Donohoe's low shot four minutes into second half injury-time drifted into the bottom corner past Glen Ryan, extra time was required to separate the sides.
Fionnbarra did move into the ascendancy in extra time when O'Brien and Langan split the posts after Craobh defensive lynchpin JJ Nolan had scored in majestic fashion from long-range, but a quick-fire brace by the impressive Ryan swiftly restored Chiaráin's superiority.
The influential player of the match, Sammon, subsequently registered the defining score of the encounter on the stroke of 70 minutes when Carey failed to deal with another strike from distance. Although Langan added a ninth point in the second additional period, it wasn't enough to deny Craobh victory in a fiercely competitive decider.