A strong first-half display paid dividends for Naomh Barrog at O’Toole Park as they narrowly overcame the stubborn challenge of Scoil Ui Chonaill in the AIG Dublin Feile Division Six final.
With Caoimhe Keohane driving them forward, Scoil remained in contention for the duration of the contest. Barrog, however, had a number of fine performers of their own and eventually squeezed through at the end of a low-scoring affair.
This was the second meeting between the two sides in as many days after their Group A encounter on Saturday when Scoil prevailed with five points to spare (3-3 to 1-4) as both teams had already advanced to the knockout rounds.
Scoil recorded a hard-earned 3-3 to 2-4 win against Garristown in their last-four tie whereas Barrog were five point victors – 3-7 to 3-2 – in their penultimate phase clash with Ballyboughal.
Determined to make amends for their earlier reversal, Barrog created a clear-cut opening in the fourth-minute. At the end of a scramble inside the square, Holly Ennis saw her strike turned away by netminder Billie O’Brien.
The hard-running of Keohane offered Scoil a strong outlet and Realtin Candon was also a lively presence in attack for the Clontarf Road side. She was narrowly off-target at a left-hand angle before Barrog defender Layla Morris broke forward to kick an opening point on six minutes.
This was the catalyst for a purple patch from the Kilbarrack girls, with Sadhbh Quigley also splitting the posts at the tail end of a patient move. Hazel Prior subsequently stepped forward to negotiate a 35-metre free and she found her range in superb fashion.
This meant they were three points to the good after 10 minutes – just in time for the regulation substitutions. Keohane was bringing a great deal of energy to the Scoil play and, with the interval fast approaching, she once again discovered a gap in the Barrog defence.
Her goal-bound effort was comfortably saved by Siobhan Cassidy Fagan, keeping the Dublin 3 outfit’s deficit at 0-0 to 0-3 during the break. Although this threw down the gauntlet to Scoil, the 16 goals they accumulated in their four games on Saturday provided their supporters with cause for optimism.
Barrog struggled to add to their tally, though, and this kept Scoil in the reckoning towards the end of normal time. They eventually opened their account with a Candon point after Keohane opted for a quick free inside the Barrog ’45’.
A number of stoppages led to five minutes of injury-time, when Scoil attempted to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Ultimately, a highly-motivated Naomh Barrog held firm to seal the silverware in nail-biting circumstances – with Prior proving to be particularly influential in the closing moments.