Connolly stands up to be counted
Ballymun K 0-20 St Vincent's 1-17 (After extra-time)
Ice-cool free gives Vincent's second bite at the cherry
DUBLIN SFC FINAL
The trophy remained in Parnell Park, but both sides took home enough positives from a hugely entertaining game to convince themselves that they will hold the psychological edge going into the replay on Wednesday night (7.45).
St Vincent's will definitely feel good about themselves, having kicked the levelling points in both normal and extra-time, but while it was disappointing for Ballymun Kickhams to be twice caught on the line, they will still feel that they are primed to retain the Dublin title for the first time in their history.
There were stretches when Ballymun played with the precision, confidence and swagger which took them all the way to the All-Ireland final last March, but there were also periods when they were locked into their shells by a well-structured Vincent's outfit.
That included three hectic minutes at the end of normal time when Vincent's wiped out a five-point deficit.
Ballymun seemed certain to win when they led by 0-16 to 0-11 as the game ticked into the 69th minute, but Vincent's battled on and had their bravery rewarded in a game-saving blitz. Substitute Kevin Golden fired home a goal, before stoppage-time points by Gavin Burke and Shane Carthy sent the game into extra-time.
Vincent's had the better of the first period of extra-time and turned into the final 10 minutes with a two-point lead before being hit for three points.
Vincent's lost Carthy to a red card in the 76th minute after he picked up a second yellow, but their defiance level never dropped and, right at the end, Diarmuid Connolly hoisted the equaliser from a 35-metre free.
'Mossy' Quinn had taken all the earlier frees but Connolly seized responsibility for the late crucial kick, driving it confidently between the posts.
Vincent's fans might have been surprised that Quinn didn't take the kick, but he had missed a relatively easy one late in normal time which may have brought about the change.
Vincent's manager Tommy Conroy said afterwards that those decisions are left to the players.
"He (Connolly) stood up and took it himself. The guys decide things like that themselves. Whoever wants to do it will do it. Diarmuid has had a great year. When he was called upon, you saw the answer that he gave. I had every confidence in him," said Conroy.
It was a pressure kick but Connolly held his nerve to rescue Vincent's and leave Ballymun regretting their failure to defend a substantial lead so late in the game.
"I'm a little bit disappointed that we didn't finish it out in normal time when we were five points up with a few minutes left," said Ballymun manager Paul Curran. "Still, the important thing is that we're still in it. We'll learn from this."
Privately, he must feel deeply frustrated over the failure to protect a five-point lead. It had been constructed from a difficult position when Ballymun, who led by 0-8 to 0-5 at half-time, conceded four points to trail by one in the 41st minute.
It left the champions with a big challenge and their response was so effective that it enabled them to outscore Vincent's by 0-8 to 0-2 over the next 18 minutes.
Ballymun, for whom right half-back Alan Hubbard was a driving influence, played some excellent football in that period. Sean George, James McCarthy and Ted Furman were also conspicuous as Ballymun built what appeared to be match-winning momentum
Vincent's needed a goal to give themselves any chance of survival and it duly arrived from Golden's boot after he was played through by Ruairi Trainor. Burke kicked his sixth point from play to cut the margin to one before Carthy slotted the equaliser.
Burke was Vincent's best forward, scoring half a dozen points in a hugely energetic performance. He – and his colleagues – benefited from the close attention the Ballymun defence gave to Connolly.
He regularly had three markers in his vicinity, leaving space for his colleagues, which Burke certainly used to good effect.
Quinn had some good moments too during a fascinating battle with Philly McMahon. Quinn kicked Vincent's first point in the fourth minute, by which stage Ballymun had scored three points.
Both sides tended to accumulate their scores in bursts, rather than in an even spread. Vincent's led by a point after 17 minutes but didn't score for another 18, before landing four unanswered points in four minutes.
Then it was Ballymun's turn to take over, scoring five points in five minutes. Crucially, Vincent's next big burst came in the closing minutes of the second half when they scored 1-2.
Conroy was understandably delighted with the battling qualities displayed by his team in their bid to win the county title for the first time since 2007.
"We couldn't ask for any more from our lads and I'm sure it's the same with Paul Curran and his team. It was a really great game. It's unfortunate that both teams have to come back here on Wednesday but that's the way it is.
"Whoever wins is out on Sunday in the Leinster championship (v Westmeath champions St Loman's)."
Curran has some injury worries ahead of the replay, including Dean Rock, who came off with a knee strain near the end.
"Hopefully, they will all be okay. The important thing for now is that we're still in the championship," said Curran.
Scorers – Ballymun: D Rock 0-8 (6fs), K Leahy, T Furman, C Weir 0-2 each, E Reilly, A O'Brien, A Hubbard, J McCarthy, Derek Byrne, J Small 0-1 each. St Vincent's: G Burke, T Quinn (4fs) 0-6 each, K Golden 1-0, D Connolly 0-2 (1f), C Dorney, S Carthy, R Trainor 0-1 each.
Ballymun – S Currie; P McMahon, S George, E Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Burke; Davey Byrne, J McCarthy; E Reilly, D Rock, K Leahy; A O'Brien, T Furman, Derek Byrne. Subs: J Small for Reilly (39), C Weir for O'Brien (39), M Brady for J Burke (48), C Burke for Leahy (48), J Welby for Derek Byrne (67), Derek Byrne for Connolly (75), E Reilly for Rock (79).
St Vincent's – M Savage; H Gill, J Curley, M Concarr; C Diamond, G Brennan, B Egan; D Murphy, M Loftus; G Burke, D Connolly, S Carthy; R Trainor, C Dorney, T Quinn. Subs: E Fennell for Dorney (38), K Golden for Loftus (45), N Mullins for Diamond (49), M Loftus for Murphy (73), L Bree for Curley (75), C Dorney for Trainor (79).
Ref – G McMahon
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