A day of reckoning for Ballyboden’s exciting U15 footballers in their attempt to reach the Championship semi-final on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Sancta Maria…but first they would have to overcome a fancied Crokes team, against whom they have had little success in recent seasons. Crokes have proven a nemesis for our lads but they have repeatedly run them close in some tight meetings so hopes were high that this would be the day our lads could turn the tables, when it matters most. Crokes would be aware that Boden were in a rich vein of form and sitting atop the League table so this promised to be a ding dong, ‘winner takes all’ battle.
It started brightly for Boden who owned the ball for the opening quarter with Rhys McDonnell and Michael McDonald ruling the roost in midfield but a two point advantage seemed scant reward for such a dominant period and it was Crokes who proved more clinical when scoring on their first attack of note to halve the deficit. This opening Kilmacud score settled their lads after a long period without any significant possession and they pushed forward and were justly rewarded with a goal midway through the half quickly followed by another brace of points to suddenly put a little daylight between the sides. However, Bodens now customary resilience shone through again and just when it seemed Crokes were going to embark on a rampage the Boden defence shut up shop and stifled Crokes frequent forays forward with some resolute defending. Usual stalwarts David Gannon, Ronan Long, Alex Gavin, Josh Corcoran and David Keogh were leading by example in trying to stem the tide of Crokes advances and the forwards were responding in kind against a very tough Crokes rearguard having to work hard for every scrap to stay in touch with some hard worked but richly deserved scores.
The three Cians were all heavily involved with Cian Costelloe and Cian Mahon excelling on opposite flanks and linking well with Cian Durkin and Jason Dwyer inside and the ever lively David Keane who was on the receiving end of some close treatment from his markers. If he didn’t manage to break through he was drawing frees and after a slick passing move which saw him bearing down on goal from a tight angle, he put a timely pass across the face of goal to full forward Conal McGlynn who was closed down before he could direcct the ball goalward and the chance was unfortunately lost. Soon after Conal was quick onto a through ball and seemed to have beaten his man and was through on goal when he was dragged to the ground in desperation by the Kilmacud full-back but the referee, instead of spreading his arms to indicate a penalty, inexplicably awarded the free to the young defender instead ! This run of bad luck was compounded by Crokes stealing another goal against the run of play just before half-time, when a turnover from a kickout was quickly worked into the efficient Crokes inside forwards and they took a scarcely deserved six point lead into the break on a scoreline of 2-06 to Boden’s 0-06.
This was a body-blow to Boden and they would again have to dig deep into their rich reserves of character to overturn this deficit against a strong and confident Crokes outfit. A good positive start to the second half was required but it was Crokes who picked up where they left off and took the early initiative stretching their lead to seven and increasing their stranglehold on the game. Boden to their credit remained composed and went up a gear to start dominating possession again but they became frustrated when wave after wave of attack yielded only two further points against a further 1-04 from Crokes before the game petered out at a low tempo when all and sundry present knew the game was up for Boden long before the ref put them out of their misery with the final whistle. On a day when the lions share of possession didn’t yield the required scoring quota to counter the efficiency of the impressive Crokes attack…(five of the six Crokes forwards are current Dublin players)…Boden would ultimately rue their missed chances which might have put a different colour on proceedings but it took a spectacular full stretch save from Boden’s Hugh O’Sullivan in goal late on, to prevent the scoreline from flattering Cokes even more.
That said, no complaints from anyone on the Boden side…the lads gave it their all again but did not reach anything like their best form on the day and no-one will deny the best team won out on the day and deserve to advance to the Semi-final, albeit on a slightly flattering final score of 3-11 to 0-08.
The lads can enjoy a bit of a break now to lick their wounds before resuming League action in July and try to stay ahead of the chasing pack in a highly competitive league that will certainly produce a few more classic encounters before the 2018 champions are crowned…There are better days ahead lads…heads up and Boden Abú.