DCU claimed a dramatic 3-7 to 1-12 victory over Kildare in the final of the O’Byrne Cup on Friday after a controversial injury time Philip McMahon goal.
In an extraordinary match, Kildare scored nine unanswered points at one stage and the Lilywhites led by 10 with 20 minutes remaining. Two goals from Dean Rock and a late goal from Philip McMahon helped DCU to a dramatic comeback victory.
DCU made a quick start and controlled the first ten minutes. Dean Rock scored two points and Cathal Gregg added another as DCU threatened to run away with the match.
The game quickly turned on its head, however, as Kildare scored nine points without reply. Alan Smith scored from a free to get Kildare off the mark and Caoimhghin McDonnell (0-3), Dessie Lawlor (0-2), Eamonn Callaghan (0-1), Shane Bergin (0-1) and Ken Donnelly (0-1) all added points.
DCU slowly got back into the game, however. Robert Eyres made a good save to deny James McCarthy a goal in the 30th minute, while goalkeeper Rob Hennelly scored from a 45 to stop the Kildare onslaught.
Hennelly made a good save to deny Kildare in the final minute of the first half, but Seamus Hanafin scored a point from a 45 to give Kildare a deserved 0-10 to 0-4 lead at half-time.
Dean Rock and Seamus Hanafin swapped points to start the second half. Rock then had a gilt-edged goal chance to get DCU back into the game, but Hugh McGrillen cleared off the line.
McGrillen then went up the other end of the pitch and added to Kildare’s lead with a well-struck point.
Kildare looked to have secured the victory when Eamonn Callaghan scored a goal in the 45th minute. Philip McMahon was at fault and passed straight to a Kildare player. The ball was then passed to Eamonn Callaghan who finished with aplomb to give Kildare a seemingly unassailable 10 point lead.
Meanwhile, Eoghan O’Gara was yellow carded for a late challenge and was substituted a mere fifteen minutes after entering the fray.
The game turned on its head in the 51st minute when a poor goal-kick from Eyres landed at Keogh. The DCU player passed to Rock, who was left with an easy finish.
Paul Flynn and McFadden quickly added points to reduce the arrears to five points.
Dean Rock then scored his second goal for the game in the 60th minute. The forward claimed a long ball above the head of a Kildare defender and quickly blasted the ball past Eyres in the Kildare net.
The last ten minutes saw Kildare drop as many men as possible behind the ball as they tried to hold on to a narrow two point lead.
In the 67th minute, Kildare broke away and had a chance to finish the match as a contest. The ball was passed to Alan Smith in goal-scoring territory, but his shot was blocked by Luke Bree, however.
Moments later Philip McMahon also had a goal opportunity, but his shot flew just wide.
DCU’s chances seemed to have faded when Hennelly shot wide from a 45 in the final minute, but there was to be more drama at the death.
Dean Rock received a long ball in the third minute of injury time and passed across goal to Philip McMahon. Kildare appealed for a square ball, but the referee turned away the protests and McMahon fired home to give DCU a dramatic and controversial victory in the closing seconds.