ST BENILDUS COLLEGE 3-9, SALESIAN COLLEGE 2-11
Three late goals in as many minutes from substitute Paul Connolly (two) and midfielder David Byrne proved pivotal at Mobhi Road this week as St Benildus College secured a stunning four-in-a-row of Dublin senior football titles after the most remarkable of comebacks against Celbridge's Salesian College.
In a tight and tense start, a brace of points from corner-forward Shane Cunningham offered Benildus a good early platform to build on, but scores from the Salesian inside duo of Ronan Byrne and Shane O'Flynn restored parity to the contest by the 15th minute.
However, the Kilmacud school were beginning to find space through the Salesian rearguard, and they opened up a three-point lead after 25 minutes courtesy of scores from the excellent Cunningham (two) and Byrne.
Salesian would end the half in spectacular fashion, though, as points from captain Patrick Brophy (two) and O'Flynn were added to by a goal in stoppage time from centre-forward Shane Ryan, leaving the north Kildare school a goal to the good (1-5 to 0-5) at the mid-way stage.
Salesian would bring this momentum into the second period as scores from the increasingly dangerous Byrne and O'Flynn added to their lead, but Benildus would re-compose themselves to register three unanswered points through second-half replacements Connolly and Eamonn Allen and Cunningham.
Yet, just when it looked like Benildus had forged their way back into the reckoning, Salesian fired back with a second goal from Byrne with 10 minutes remaining and, thanks to three further points from the excellent Byrne and one from Craig Mooney, they opened up a seemingly insurmountable 2-11 to 0-9 lead over their Metropolitan rivals.
Incredibly, this was how the score remained until the final minute of normal time, when Connolly kicked to the net after Donal Butler had his shot from distance saved by Sean Holmes.
This gave Benildus an unexpected late lifeline, and when Byrne brilliantly finished to the top corner of the Salesian net in the first minute of injury-time, the tie was suddenly back in the melting pot. The momentum was now with Benildus, and when Allen was dragged down in the area by Holmes just a minute later, Connolly stepped up to seal a most extraordinary victory.
Scorers - St Benildus College: P Connolly 2-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), S Cunningham 0-6 (2f), D Byrne 1-1 (0-1f), E Allen 0-1. Salesian College: R Byrne 1-5, S O'Flynn 0-3, S Ryan 1-0, P Brophy 0-2 (1f), C Mooney 0-1 each.
St Benildus College: S Murtagh; A Kennedy, C Dolan, E Murphy; C Conway, R McGowan, S Mulvanney; D Byrne, D Butler; E Coffey, N Hanley, B Reilly; D Coen, B Horan, S Cunningham. Subs: P Connolly for Coen (h-t), E Allen for Reilly (34), M Mannion for Hanley (52).
Salesian College: S Holmes; B Nolan, E Conaty, B Flynn; T Doolin, D Corcoran, R Feehan; P Brophy, J Doran; C Mooney, S Ryan, T McGoldrick; R Byrne, S O'Flynn, J Costello. Subs: R Harding for Ryan (51), R Cheasty for McGoldrick (51), S Moore for Flynn (58).
Referee: D Feeney (Parnell's).