NAOMH Barróg 2-5
A SUMMER see-saw of a match – end to end. High in energy on a humid Saturday afternoon. A coastal derby dish that sizzled in the Parnell Park heat.
Eddie Walker had the baton. He let the music flow. Barróg led for most of the way, but the 'Tarf were never far from their heels. There was so much to admire – high fielding, first-class defending and some picture scores.
Mark Fogarty excelled for the Kilbarrack side. He went on many an adventure from deep. Donacha Butler impressed in the Barróg engine-room and Jake Garnett has a left peg that could butter the spuds.
Coaching connoisseur, Martin Nolan, looked on, safe in the knowledge that things have never looked brighter at Pairc Barróg.
The 'Tarf full-back, Paddy Smyth, got the judges' vote for the man-of-the-match. He excelled in his defensive duties. Their captain, Cathal O'Mahony, is an accomplished number 6, while stylish duo, Barry Davis and Des Whelan, also made telling contributions.
They were also lifted by the displays off the bench of a trio of U15s - the resolute Tom O'Flaherty, the accuracy and prompting of Kevin Lillis and the athleticism and scoring prowess of sub midfielder Rory Clarke. There was slickness of hand and foot in both teams, and they produced a spectacle that would have had them purring on the Sunday Game.
"It took us a while to get going, but I think we deserved it in the end," said Clontarf manager, Pat Davis, a brother of the Leeside legend, Tony. "It was a terrific match. Our fellas were fabulous. That's back-to-back championships for these lads now. And it's funny because we can hardly win a match in the league. But where I come from, it's the championship that matters!"
Barróg's Martin Kiernan was also in upbeat mood. "We have great kids in this squad. They do so much for the club. They support the club in anyway they can. They are a credit. I thought it was a cracking game."
Both defences had a busy hour. At half-time, Barróg were ahead by 2-3 to 0-7 as they played into the score-board end.
Séadhna Ryan lofted in their opening goal in the fifth minute, and they had their second on 15 minutes.
Garnett delivered to Mark Grace, who caught the ball beautifully, turned and rattled the cobwebs.
That made it 2-2 to 0-3. But Clontarf kept playing with the same purpose, attacking with craft. And they turned up the volume in the second half.
Fourteen minutes in, their efforts were rewarded with a Lillis point. Then came the game-changer – a goal from Clark in the 51st minute as his 20-metre drive nestled just inside the right-hand post.
'Tarf ahead for the first time. A Whelan free gave them a little more breathing space – but not much. Barróg responded with points from Garnett and Mark Byrne. 'Tarf still in front by a point. Clarke was denied a second goal by a terrific save from Barróg 'keeper, Conor Forbes, before Clarke's stoppage-time point settled a delightful duel.