Clontarf’s former Three Rock contingent served up the northside club’s first ever senior title as they ended Rovers’ reign as Neville Cup champions at Grange Road on St Stephen’s Day.
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 brothers John and Kevin 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.
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 for 1-1 at half-time.
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.
John Mullins put Tarf back in front with 13 minutes to go only for Peter Blakeney to tie things up.
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.
Kevin Mullins then whipped home the killer fourth goal with three minutes left and he completed his hat trick with the last play to, personally, win his 10th trophy in three seasons.