Result: 3 18 to 1 20

Boden stay on top of the table after high tempo clash – The Long Fella Reports

With the provincial championships in full flow, ‘Gaelic speak’ is dominating the airwaves and the printed media. Stuff like ‘the twenty-man game’ and ‘emptying the locker’ have a familiar ring to them. This is the kind of ‘speak’ that may have been borrowed from other sports. The GAA scene has some of its own unique language. A well-known pundit likes to describe the quandary that a defender may have when dealing with a roving forward as ‘the back does not know whether to stick or twist’. That’s a beauty. There are the lesser known ones like when the captain is trying to decide whether to take the benefit of the wind after winning the coin toss. ‘The decision was whether to hare up or hare down’. However, this column is indebted to the club’s correspondent from Portlaoise for some exceptional ‘speak’. Uttered without a modicum or a scintilla of sympathy for the ‘weaker county’, he delivered that ‘May was the month for clearing the bottom of the pot’. Which brings us closer to ‘the cream always rises to the top’. This begs the question….. is the sweetest of the GAA stew is at the top of the pot?

A modest attendance graced the rail at HQ on Saturday at tea-time for the Senior Hurling League Division One clash between Na Fianna and Ballyboden. Last year’s meetings between the sides left it at one win apiece. The visitors opened up with some high tempo deliveries into the forward division. But it was Boden who opened the scoring with Conor Dooley pointing after Aiden Mellett was upended. Fergal Breathnach replied for the visitors and this was followed by a Colin Currie free, again for Na Fianna. In many ways, a pattern had been set, and Currie, Mellett and Dooley were to dominate the forward exchanges for the rest of the game. Boden’s Luke McDwyer managed to get the last touch to a partially blocked shot to notch up Boden’s first goal of the game. Currie and Dooley exchanged points from frees to make the score 1.02 to 3 pts. It appeared that defences were generally on top and forwards were creating free-scoring opportunities for Currie and Dooley. The latter seemed to grow in confidence as the game progressed.

Na Fianna’s chances were dealt a blow after the opening quarter when the referee issued a red card to one of their forwards. But this hardly dented their enthusiasm and more Currie points were added to a fine David Murtagh point from outfield. Mellett added a quality score after Dooley won the ball and delivered the perfect pass. Another free was left to Dooley and he buried the ball past the visitors defence to rattle the onion-sack. 2.04 to 7 pts.  Dooley and Currie exchanged points again before Na Fianna’s Martin Quilty finished the first-half scoring with his point when allowed to run at the Boden defence. Half-time had it at 2.06 to 11 pts.

The second half followed the pattern of the first, but with Dooley being the go-to man, the visitors defence started to show some weaknesses. His ability to both win and break high ball was the dominating aspect of the half. Boden freshened up their attack with Kevin Desmond and James Roche entering the fray. The former was quickest to latch onto a breaking ball and he ran unhindered to fire past the visitor’s goalmen. Roche added his trademark score, looping his shot over flailing hurleys. Niall McMorrow also added further to Boden’s tally and displayed some exceptional touches. Entering the last ten minutes, Na Fianna went after goals and brought out the best of Boden’s goalman Gary Maguire. His acrobatic save kept Na Fianna goal-less until the second last minute of play. A fluid Na Fianna move down the ‘rail’ side led to a defence-splitting cross-field pass to Donal Burke. His rifled shot left Maguire with no chance of thwarting it. McDwyer finished the scoring after he volleyed over when pressed by the visitors defence.

With his 1. 11 (3 from play), Dooley undoubtedly earned the accolade of MVP, but others like Mellett and defenders Dean Curran and David O’Connor came in for praise, as did Shane Durkin. O’Connor in particular used his considerable pace to mop up a lot of broken ball. He used the possession well and fed his forwards with useful passes. In the second half, McMorrow showed his best skills and his quick reactions opened up some good space for his team-mates.

Squad… Gary Maguire, Adam Jermyn, Dean Curran, David O’Connor, Sean McDonnell, Simon Lambert, David Curtin, Finn McGarry, Eoghan O’Neill, Shane Durkin, Niall Ryan, Luke McDwyer, Paul Doherty, Aiden Mellett, Conor Dooley, James Roche, Conor O’Donoghue, Niall McMorrow, Cian Mellett, Finian McDonagh, Eoin Small, Rob Leddy, Kevin Desmond, Darragh O’Reilly, Colm Basquel.