Neville Cup final
Clontarf 5 (K Mullins 3, J Mullins, G Borland) Three Rock Rovers 2 (L Adams, P Blakeney)
** full set of pics to follow in due course
Clontarf’s former Three Rock contingent served up Clontarf’s first ever senior title as they ended Rovers’ reign as Neville Cup champions at Grange Road.
At 2-2 with seven minutes to go, the tie was well poised but the Bulls gorged on the Rovers’ carcass with three late goals seeing them exit the arena victorious, making for a day to savour for the north Dublin club.
Player-assistant coach Gareth Borland had been Rovers’ sideline coach for the last two finals before returning to his roots along with the Mullins during the summer.
“Of the 17 in our squad, including our coach Dave Bane, 15 have been involved with Mount Temple and the club for the thousands of sessions we have done over the years,” Borland surmised.
“For every one of those guys, the club is part of their identity which is unique in Leinster circles. To see all the people from the different generations, from the first team back in 1981 there on the sideline, it was a special day.”
He joked about having a “little local knowledge” when it came to corner time as Tarf nailed three from their four set pieces with Rovers netting one from six.
But this tie was more than a set-piece battle as two confident sides took the turf, Clontarf with a perfect record in Leinster Division One, Rovers drawing predominantly from a side who has done likewise in Division Two with a few first teamers added to the mix.
After two Rovers’ corners were repelled, Kevin Mullins netted in the tenth minute when he took on corner duties in the absence of Davyn Keuter for 1-0. Rovers equalised from a well measured move, James Walker cutting in from the left and slipping to Mick Maguire. His first time cross left Luke Adams with an open goal which he coolly flicked into.
As is the norm for the Neville final, the crowd swelled as the quarters went on with a small initial audience expanding all the while. They saw Tarf hold on for half-time parity with Dave Power charging down Blakeney David Lawless batting away from Walker.
Dylan Shirley ripped one off the inside of the post from turnover – while Blakeney was on a yellow – as things got fractious and a few physical tackles reduced both sides’ numbers. Lawless also parried Luke McSharry’s drive as it remained tight at 1-1 into the final quarter.
Rovers, though, were playing fast and loose in their back four and were caught out with 13 minutes to go when Kevin picked Garry Ringwood’s pocket, took off into the circle where he was felled. Younger brother John sent Shane O’Brien the wrong way from the stroke spot for 2-1.
Kevin’s eventful day saw a free upgraded from a green to a yellow and a corner for not retreating to allow Blakeney to whip in the second leveler at 2-2 with nine minutes to go.
But Tarf kept coming and Borland was the man pulling the strings at the head of the D for their killer third goal. He slipped under his arm into the path of John’s slide – attempting a carbon copy of his Irish Senior Cup final goal from May – but a defensive touch got there first for 3-2.
Rovers scuffed their sixth corner moments later; from the counter, Tarf got another corner and, with Kevin back on the field, a low drag down the glove side made it 4-2. He then completed his hat trick into an open goal as Rovers went to 11 outfielders, crowning their perfect day.
“It’s definitely a habit I’ve picked up!” Kevin said after yet another trophy, his 10th in three years and 10 finals between his stint with Rovers and back at the club of his roots.
“Just delighted for the club to get that first trophy for everyone who has invested in the team. “Obviously nice to get the individual accolade of the hat trick but, in that last five minutes, getting the win is what it was all about.”
“With Clontarf, we don’t get to finals as much as Three Rock do so everyone had all their mates out here [on the sidelines]. It is a bit of a community and it’s a great occasion for the whole area.”
Elsewhere, Cork C of I won the Peard Cup in Munster with a 3-1 success against Bandon with John Jermyn, Stephen Parker and Jonny Bruton netting.
Three Rock Rovers: S O’Brien, B Ryder, G Ringwood, D Storey, B McCrea, P McConnell, P Blakeney, M Maguire, H Lynch, M Maguire, M Sweetnam, S Walker, J Walker, E Jennings, L McSharry, D Shirley
Clontarf: D Lawless, D Power, T Cullen, K Murray, S Beattie, A O’Malley, M Duggan, G Borland, K Mullins, J Mullins, J Edmonds, C Cooney, L Hayden, J Sheahan, S Harper, S Cassidy
Umpires: D Reamsbottom, B Bale