Neville Davin Cup Final: Weston 3 (Tucker, Lynch, Dwyer) Avoca 3 (Haughton, Naughton, Gallanagh), after extra time, Avoca win 7-6 on penalty strokes
It took 13 strokes before either side blinked but, ultimately, Stefan Gallagher’s penalty save proved the key intervention as Avoca claimed their second Neville Davin Cup title in three years from an epic.
Martin Naughton duly flicked home the winner to cap a cracking final at Serpentine Avenue which saw the Blackrock boys seemingly move into an unassailable lead with three goals in six minutes before Weston roared back into the game.
And they almost won it when Vikram Singh and Rob Lynch worked a brilliant golden goal opening only for the final pass to slip just off course as the latter arrived at the back post like a steam-train. But it was not to be and Avoca were left to celebrate a double-winning campaign.
Early on, chances were hard to come by – both sides unable to do much with their single corner each – to leave the tie scoreless at half-time.
Avoca, though, started the second half in blistering fashion, Peter Haughton whipping home a drag-flick three minutes after the turnaround. It was 2-0 when Sean Walsh – in his last game before returning to Australia – won a turnover wide on the right. In a tight space, he and Cliff Bailey worked the ball across the circle for Naughton who had time to control, advance and roll into the corner.
And they were flying even higher just three minutes later when Weston did not clear their lines and Enda Gallanagh mopped up the pieces at the right post.
But they were guilty of taking the foot off the gas and two goals in quick succession gave the Lucanites real belief. Daryl Carey nicked possession on the 25 to set up the first, selflessly passing to Tucker and while he had a bit of work to do, he controlled on his reverse and bundled in.
Stopper Stephen Dwyer was on hand to score the second from a corner rebound while Carl Breaden was in the sin-bin. Skipper Rob Pearson also took a Phil Baron drag off the line before Lynch nipped in to grab the leveller with a couple of minutes to go, capping the remarkable comeback.
Extra time was open with chances at both ends, Singh and Lynch’s chance coming first before Declan Kelly denied Naughton from close range from a corner rebound but no goal came.
Penalties went six rounds before anyone missed but Gallagher guessed right to Tucker’s second effort, saving low and Naughton did the rest.
Avoca: S Gallagher, R Pearson (capt), Carl Breaden, M Haughton, C Bailey, M Naughton, E Gallanagh, P Haughton, B Adam, D Fanning, S Walsh
Subs: J Elmes, E Handleman, R Couse, D Grimm
Weston: D Kelly, K Taylor, P Baron, D Meenaghan, A Browne, R Lynch, E Tucker, S Pearson, K Goodwin, S Dwyer, D Carey
Subs: M Pluck, G van Jaarsveld, V Singh, A Hanna, H Butler