DUBLIN AND KILDARE played out a fitting tribute to the late Kevin Heffernan in the O’Byrne Cup final at Parnell Park this evening.
The Lilywhites needed extra time to narrowly edged out their close rivals by 1-16 to 0-17 after a topsy-turvy encounter when a lead rarely seemed secure.
With the scores locked at 14 points apiece at full time, the drama moved into the extra phase. There Kildare kept their head to take the first silverware of the season with Tomas O’Connor and Seanie Johnston to the fore in that period.
As the game took shape in the early stages, it was the home side that looked most likely to click into a rich vein of scoring mid-way through the first half as they fired three points in a row to take a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after 20 minutes.
Kildare battled back however, as they would throughout, with scores from Paddy Brophy and Niall Kelly levelling the game at six points apiece, before Kelly edged Kieran McGeeney’s side ahead.
Dublin would retake the lead before the break. Paddy Andrews levelling matters before Paul Mannion took his third score of the game to send the Dubs into the changing room with a 0-8 to 0-7 lead.
Dublin would race out of the traps again in the second of with Mannion and Andrews in scoring form, but with Doyle on the field Kildare continued to look menacing and he twice inspired the Lilywhites to level matters as the sides traded blows for the duration of a pulsating second half.
Johnston was sprung from the bench for the visitors and his best chances to score arrived with time almost up, one shot trailed wide, but another was blocked away for a 45. Mike Conway’s placed ball drifted narrowly wide against the wind and the Dubs breathed a sigh of relief to go into extra time.
In the added time, Kildare must have feared their chance had been missed. Never more so than when two Paul Hudson scores helped Dublin to a three-point advantage by half time in extra time.
But the turnaround brought yet more drama, Johnston’s shot on goal was saved, but turned in by O’Connor to level this thrilling final once more.
O’Connor would add a quick-fire two points to bring his personal three-minute tally to 1-2 to put Kildare in front by 1-16 to 0-17.
And that’s the way it would stay as Kildare held on as Dublin lost their cool in the dying minutes with Denis Bastick seeing red and hitting out at Brophy.