Crokes crack belligerent Boden to retain County crown.
Gizmo reports from the Minor A hurling final.
Final Score: BBSE 0 -14 Kilmacud Crokes 0 -15
A packed and rowdy O’Toole Park witnessed Ballyboden St. Endas being pipped at the post in the 2019 Minor A hurling County championship. “That was a real Smash & Grab”, said parent “Slinky” O’Dwyer, so called because he’s utterly useless but good fun to push down the stairs.
The Firhouse road outfit put their season long unbeaten record on the line against a very strong Stillorgan side in a sun-drenched O’Toole Park on Sunday morning last. With both teams brimming with County stars, only an absolute and utter moron would bet on the outcome. “I put a tenner on Boden with a lad in work” said a confident PJ Codd just before the throw in. On paper, Boden had a side stronger than a Linda O’Donnell Gin & Tonic but the positional changes and potential match ups was the pre-match terrace gossip. “It’s a right scrabble bag of potential,” said one insightful supporter.
Following the traditional opening five minutes of “Getting to know each other” Boden got off the mark with a well taken 65 from Fergal Ryan, closely followed by two frees from marksman Darragh Kenny. Through the hard graft of Christie, O’Donnell, Wall and Behan, Crokes were finding it difficult to get a foothold in the game. Reduced to living off scraps, the Crokes front six were given very few opportunities to raise any kind of flag. Their rare forays into the Boden defence were met by immovable, yet agile Jack Lambert, who’s early point blank save and the resulting snap shot being palmed off the line by Maguire prevented Crokes from getting off to a flyer. Points from John McGuire and the ever-industrious Cian Hassett saw Boden extend their lead to 4 and, in truth, were doing all the hurling.
The back three of Mulligan Lynch, Dunleavy and Cashman were sublime, while ably assisted by Ryan, Maguire and Codd who were stationed in front of them, as has been the case all year, the defenders were building the platform for the forwards success. Epitomised by Maguire, who while carrying the ball from defence, shifted a couple of heavy tackles to release the sliotar to Kenny who calmly slotted the ball over the bar to give Boden a seven points to three lead at half time.
“We’re well in control here, nearly overplaying it a bit”. said weather beaten coach Emmet Carroll on his way to the dressing room for the half time reflection. Winning individual battles was key to Boden’s 1st half success with Cashman reducing Crokes star man Brendan Scanlon to making runs akin to a squirrel caught in a peddle bin.
The second half saw the introduction of Conor Lowe and Ryan O’Dwyer to the half forwards while Crokes dropped an extra man into their defence in an effort to open up space for their front five. This seem to pay dividends as a couple of early Crokes frees, followed by a few long-range efforts got the score tied up at 9 a piece after just 10 minutes. The hard graft of Corcoran set up opportunities for Christie, Hassett, Beahn and Kenny to capitalise on and once again extend the Boden lead to 4 points with 15 minutes left on the old Rolex.
“Sometimes it’s easier to come from behind then lead from the front.” said Leitrim’s own Tomás Ó Riordáin [mentor]. “We ran ourselves into the ground and as each Crokes point was landed, the pitch got that bit heavier.” He went on to say, ” we brought Adam, Harry and young Davy on and even their energy and work rate could not contain the Crokes momentum. I thought we had done enough when Davy [Keogh] landed that cracking point from the far touchline.”
Having eroded our 4-point advantage, Crokes took the lead for the first time in the game in the 58th minute. After tacking on another quickly after, we were left chasing the elusive Green Flag but only getting a point for our efforts. Final whistle, one-point loss, Crokes cheering, Boden broken.
We caught up with an emotional Brendan Ryan [yes, he does have feelings] and asked for a reaction to the defeat, “As a group of mentors, we are extremely proud of what these lads have achieved. We played 14 competitive games and lost only one and, unfortunately, it was this one. Sh**e”. Asked if nerves could have been a factor he said, “Yes, I think they were. All this week, I couldn’t sleep in the afternoons……….” Desperate for a coherent comment, I caught up with a philosophical David O’Connor [Part time mentor] and looked for his analysis of the game. “The lads today were immense and gave it their all, they are emotionally and physically drained. Sometimes in sport, you don’t get what you deserve, but, hey, that’s sport.”
Fresh from shooting bats in Carmel Park (you heard it here first), hurling Chairman John Ryan said, “Although things didn’t go our way today, it’s great to be back in the Minor Hurling County Final. Boden has a rich tradition in Minor hurling, having appeared in 16 finals in the last 25 years.” Asked if he would be buying a few pints to celebrate the achievement of getting to the final, he muttered, “It’s a well known fact that Tipperary men don’t buy pints. So, don’t blame me for being a miserable sod, it’s the geography of my birth.”
The team: Jack Lambert, Luke Mulligan Lynch, Paddy Dunleavy, Enda Cashman, Joe Maguire, Malachy Codd, Fergal Ryan (0-1 x 65), Sean O’Donnell, Pearce Christie (0-1), John McGuire (0-1), Eoin Behan (0-1), Cian Corcoran, Darragh Kenny (0-7 (4 x F)), Cian Hassett (0-2), Ryan O’Dwyer, Cillian Wall, Harry Donaghy, Daire Sweeney, David Monahan, Peter Gannon, Rian Power, David Keogh (0-1), Adam Kelleher, Rhys McDonnell, Eoin Deignan, Oisin King