O’Loughlin Gaels clinched the minor hurling Roinn A championship final in dramatic fashion when a last gasp goal from Cian Loy landed the title.
Dicksboro hit the front minutes from the end of this thriller at Nowlan Park on Sunday, but they went home empty handed.
With just a minute of normal time remaining midfield dynamo Loy picked up possession about 25 metres from goal on the left wing at the city end. He raced at the ’Boro defence.
It was colleague Shane Maher who won the initial ball and worked it to Loy, who stayed cool as he slotted the ball home from close range.
This dramatic win completed a magnificent hat trick of titles at minor, under-14 and 16 level this season for the St John’s Park outfit.
Midway through the second half the title looked destined for Dicksboro’s Palmertown home when O’Loughlin’s had centre-back Robbie Buckley sent off after being shown a second yellow and then a red card.
They reshuffled their team brilliantly and in the final few moments full back and captain Huw Lawlor held them together. He showed real quality and nerve as he sent the ball back downfield time and time again.
The O’Loughlin’s team leaders certainly stood up in the closing moments as they dug out a win in the most unlikely of circumstances after their opponents hit a staggering total of 13 wides over the course of the game.
The winners started the game brightly, Shane Maher pointing from the first placed ball of the game.
Cian Loy added a score from midfield and O’Loughlin’s were quickly two ahead. It wasn’t until the 17th minute that Dicksboro managed to get a score on the ’board.
In the opening quarter both sets of backs were well on top, and with neither side looking like letting up, it certainly didn’t look as if the game would produce five goals.
Both Huw Lawlor and his opposite number Jim Pollard were setting the tone for the day, but not until Robbie Murphy put the ’Boro ahead with a wonderful solo effort.
The corner-forward picked up possession 30 metres from goal and used his pace to great effect. As he lost his marker he bore down on goal and fired a shot into the left hand corner to swing the momentum in his side’s favour.
Conor Fitzpatrick added a score from midfield before Danny Bolger and a Shane Maher free levelled the match at 1-1 to 0-4.
O’Loughlin Gaels moved Sean Butler to full forward shortly before the break, and the move paid rich dividends.
The burly forward was strongest in the air as the ball was struck in, and he set up Danny Bolger, who made no mistake from close range.
Dicksboro quickly drew level in a fortunate manner when Gaels ’keeper, Robbie O’Driscoll lost concentration for a moment and let Bill Sheehan in for his first goal of the game.
Shane Maher and Conor Fitzpatrick traded scores so that at the break the sides were level at 2-2 to the Gaels 1-5. The first half had been an intense affair with neither side able to get on top for more than a few minutes, the level scores reflecting the flow of play accurately.
Shane Maher pointed from a 65 before the newly introduced Luke Rafter shot over and O’Loughlin’s looked to have taken control, right up until the sending off incident.
Gary Bryan moved to centre-back but the Dicksboro advantage quickly told as speed merchant Bill Sheehan finished off a flowing move to put his side back in front.
From there the sides went score for score but the ’Boro were making headway and going into the final few moments the finishing and winning line was in site. An injury to key man, wing back Robert Crotty was to tell, however, as his departure weakened what had been a sure and steady defence.
Shane Maher gleefully exploited that weakening of the defences to set up the tireless Loy for the all important last score, and from there the side in green and white held their nerve to take the honours.
O’Loughlin’s manager Michael Holohan was delighted at his side’s show of class and character.
“It’s a fantastic win,” he said. “It really went down to the death. We thought it was gone from us with just the 14 men for most of the second half.
“Our backs were to the wall but the lads showed real character to stay going until the end. I suppose that’s the hallmark of this O’Loughlin’s team.
“We have leaders all over the field and sometimes you need those fellas to stand up and be counted. Huw Lawlor, our captain, and Shane Maher were fantastic today.”
Having won the under-14, under-16 and now the minor Roinn A finals, O’Loughlin’s certainly have the material for a solid base on which to build for the future.
SCORERS: O’Loughlin Gaels - Shane Maher (0-7, 0-4 frees, one 65); Danny Bolger, Cian Loy (1-1 each); Luke Rafter (0-1). Dicksboro - Bill Sheehan (2-1); Robbie Murphy (1-0); Conor Fitzpatrick (0-2); Andrew Gaffney (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 65); Chris Kavanagh (0-1).
O’Loughlin Gaels - Robbie O’Driscoll, Dan O’Driscoll, Huw Lawlor, Brian Buckley, Shane Mahony, Robbie Buckley, Gary Bryan, Thomas Gleeson, Cian Loy, Sean Bolger, Ross Butler, Ben Leydon, Danny Bolger, Daniel O’Connor, Shane Maher. Subs - Jack Lawlor for B. Buckley, Luke Rafter for B. Leydon.
Dicksboro - John Hanrick, Evan Carroll, Jim Pollard, Conor Doheny, Robert Crotty, Aidan Nolan, Alan Phelan, Conor Fitzpatrick, Thomas Kenny, Kieran Ryan, Corey Cahill, Andrew Gaffney, Bill Sheehan, Chris Kavanagh, Robbie Murphy. Subs: Jamie Byrne for T Kenny; Cian Butler for R. Crotty (inj).
Referee - Raymond Byrne (Glenmore).