BALLYMUN KICKHAMS 0-15
A dominant first quarter proved telling as Ballymun Kickhams withstood a brave Clontarf comeback to prevail by the narrowest of margins in their absorbing Go Ahead Dublin Senior 1 Football Championship Group 2 encounter at Parnell Park on Friday evening.
The 2020 winners raced out of the blocks, kicking seven points without reply by the 11th minute, and it was that scoring burst that afforded them a sufficient buffer to absorb consistent pressure from their opponents as the contest evolved.
Clontarf even managed to take the lead for a brief period in the 41st minute as Rory Clarke edged them 0-11 to 0-10 ahead but, crucially, Kickhams regained some momentum with the lively Dillon Keating popping over two excellent scores to turn the tide back in Ballymun’s favour.
Even so, Clontarf spurned a gilt-edged goal opportunity in the 58th minute as Andy Foley raced through on goal but the midfielder’s decision to shoot was a questionable one, particularly as his effort was parried by a combination of Leon Young and Daragh Conlon.
That we were treated to such a tight and tense affair seemed unlikely after an opening 10 minutes that saw Kickhams seize control, with James McCarthy in majestic form at centrefield.
His influence ensured a steady supply of possession as his team impressed through early points from Ciaran McManus and Philly McMahon.
Dean Rock then added three points in quick succession, including two from placed balls, before McMahon and Cathal O’Tighe completed this scoring burst as their opponents struggled to make any impression at the opposite end of the field.
It was the 18th minute before Clontarf made an impact on the scoreboard through a Kieran McKeon free and in an instant, the impressive Nathan Doran added a second as belief began to course through their collective veins.
McKeon added two further frees as Cameron McCormack dragged wide for Ballymun when handed a presentable goal chance.
And while Rock ended a barren period of 18 minutes with a fine score from play, late points from Brian Berney and McKeon left Clontarf just one point (0-8 to 0-7) in arrears at the interval.
McCarthy doubled his team’s lead at the start of the second half but with John Small having to be replaced through injury, Kickhams struggled to impress as McKeon, Finn McCarrick and Doran pointed prior to Clarke’s leading score.
McManus levelled for Ballymun with a cracking strike from distance and despite McCarthy also suffering an injury, they pushed for home from that juncture through scores from Keating, Paddy Small and Rock to secure a welcome but slightly fortuitous victory.
Scorers – Ballymun Kickhams: D Rock 0-6 (4f), C McManus, D Keating, P McMahon 0-2 each; C O’Tighe, J McCarthy, P Small 0-1 each. Clontarf: K McKeon 0-6 (4f); N Doran 0-3; F McCarrick, B Berney, R Clarke, L Cunningham, K Lillis 0-1 each.
Ballymun Kickhams: S Currie; S Tuke, L Young, D Conlon; J Small, D Byrne, D Bolger; C McCormack, J McCarthy; C O’Tighe, D Keating, C McManus; P Small, P McMahon, D Rock. Subs: A Hubbard for J Small (31), R Bolger for O’Tighe (45), J Burke for McCarthy (49), J Whelan for Young (60).
Clontarf: B Dufficy; D Monaghan, C Doran, L Howley; S McCann, D Egan, M McMahon; A Foley, L Cunningham; F McCarrick, K McKeon, B Berney; N Doran, K Millar, R Clarke. Subs: K Lillis for Millar (49), K McGrath for Cunningham (blood sub 52-58), P Lynch for McCann (53), D Fagan for Clarke (60).
Managers – Ballymun Kickhams: Brendan Hackett. Clontarf: Jack McCabe.
Referee: Dave Feeney (Parnell’s)
Wides: Ballymun Kickhams 9 (7+2) Clontarf 9 (5+4).
Conditions: Immaculate playing surface.
Player of the Game: Dillon Keating (Ballymun Kickhams).