BBSE  3 19  Kilmacud Crokes  2 09 

Ditch Jockey reports from Páirc Uí Mhurchú

Think of it as performance art and you’ll begin to make sense of it.

Tonight, you came for the hurling. You came because it’s ‘Champo’. You came for the pullin’ and the flakin’, and the big club rivalry, and the ‘you-could-cut-the-atmosphere-with-a-knife’ talk and all the jazz that makes the club championships your reason to be alive. You came for the hurling, but you left a little stumped. You left unaware that you had just attended hurling’s cover version of a modern-day Spanish-style bullfight. Either that, or you’ve just been to the panto.

Perspective is everything. Perspective is where you are from and if you’re from Ballyboden, then you’ve just been to the bullring. The opening half was the first stage of a bullfight.

“The ‘Tercio de Varas’, (i.e. Stage 1), is where the picadores repeatedly drive lances into the bull’s neck in order to begin to weaken the animal. The bull, being at its most strong, charges back.”

And for every Ballyboden point in the opening twenty minutes, Kilmacud, at their most strong, kept charging back.

Jon O’Driscoll and James Roche played the picadores to a tee – Jono drawing first blood with just two minutes gone. Roche followed up with a well stuck free, and then running straight at the defence he side-stepped the clash, slipping the sliothar to O’Driscoll who struck his second blow of the evening. Meanwhile, Kilmacud, tackling like demons, kept the charge going, and responded to each score with points of their own. With fifteen minutes gone, each of their inside forwards had opened their account, and full forward Dan Doyle looked the most menacing, jumping and twisting and turning to his hearts content. Barry Wolohan got in on the act for the visitors with two successive points from midfield before Crokes hit again. Full-back Niall Corcoran found himself unusually north of the halfway line and still in possession of the ball. He did what any thief would do. He kept on running. He kept on running until finally he panicked and decided to ditch the loot. He ditched it over the bar, and sauntered away, hands in pockets, whistling as he went.

At this stage you were thinking that this bull might have a chance. The team were a little off the pace. It had been 8 minutes since Daragh Kenny hit that sweet point from the right-hand side-line and Kilmacud had the upper hand. Your thinking was interrupted by a ‘whoosh’, as Matty Weldon flew by you and sneaked a point after finding space on the right-hand side. Roche converted a free following a foul on Fergal Ryan that returned equity to the scoreboard.

But Crokes had the final charge of the half. The stiff breeze that favoured them strongly suited their direct tactics, with the wind repeatedly carrying the long ball over the half-back line. In the 29th minute, another one launched and landed in the palm of Dancing Dan Doyle. He looked at goal, performed some sort of warped jitterbug and struck it to the back of the net. Colm Crean polished off the half with another point for Kilmacud, and they took the lead into half-time of 1-8 to 0-7 points. Had Ballyboden delivered enough blows in that period, or was the bull just resisting to wither?

“The ‘Tercio de Banderillas’ is Stage 2 of the bull-fight, where the picadores attempt to plant two dart -like sticks onto the shoulders of the bull, thereby delivering the major blows and weakening and exhausting the animal before the matadores enter the ring.”

The second half began and picadores Ryan and Kenny took over where O’Driscoll and Roche left off. Daragh Kenny first, followed by a Roche free cut the deficit to 2 points within 5 minutes of the restart. Then came the darts. In the 41st minute Kenny made a move to the side-line on the right side of the pitch. Daragh starts on the 21m line and goes upwards to about 6ft 2. He clears 9ft with his arm in the air, and a lot more when he jumps. He jumped high for the cross-field ball and caught it where the air is thinnest. He turned on landing and resisted the pop pass to his team-mate steaming by him. Instead, he threaded a pass through the eye of a needle, into the hand of Fergal Ryan who pivoted and made no mistake of the finish. First blow delivered.

Within a minute, the second one came, administered directly by Kenny, who followed it up almost immediately with an over-the-shoulder pointed effort from 40m. The third quarter blitz ended with another goal from Kenny, but not before Leon Kennedy had hit a fine point under heavy pressure from the Crokes backline. 3 goals and 4 points to no reply turned a 4-point deficit into a 9-point lead within 15 minutes, and by now the bull was bleeding.

“Stage 3 is the ‘Tercio de Muerte’, where the matadores enter the ring and finish the fight by inflicting a series of quick wounds to the bull and run it into the ground to enable the ‘coup de grace’.”

By now, Cillian Kirwan, Fionn Maguire, James Ryan and Malachy Codd had entered the fray, and a series of unanswered points finished the contest if there was ever a doubt. Weldon, Kenny, and Kirwan the main contributors from play, while Ryan converted 4 frees to add to his contribution. Crokes kept coming as best they could, but it proved to be beyond them on this occasion. They did manage a goal, at the third attempt after two saves by Sean O’Donnell, and a final point in the 56th minute by Alex Hatt finished their scoring for the day. David O’Connor finished with a point for Boden in the 65th minute. The beast was slain. And Darragh Kenny the hero. 2-4 will do that for you on any day.

So, a commanding effort and the Ballyboden following retired happy with the evening’s entertainment, but for the Kilmacud faithful it was a different story. A pantomime story, where picadores and matadores were replaced by principal characters from our favourite fairy tales. Overly-costumed and overly-familiar. The bull looked like Daisy the Cow. Act one was such a promising performance, with everyone delivering their lines. Forwards and backs, right on cue. Each attack seemed to suggest more than one possibility, like every good ‘double-entendre’.

After the interval, it all changed utterly, and for some reason, or for no reason, their lines stopped making sense. The back six for ‘Boden were getting a grip on the game and began gagging their men. Supporters peered through the gaps in their fingers at the actors suspended in a long, awkward and uncomfortable silence. The forwards were waiting to deliver the punchlines, but nobody told any jokes. Only the audience could see the villains in the background, and vocally they did their best. But nobody looked behind. It was just one of those days.

This is the second game running that this Ballyboden team have scored 27 points, and the second week running they have kept the opposition below 18. That tells its own tale, and we look forward to Naomh Fionnbarra (away) on September 2nd .

As for today, the result is the history. The performance is the story. Perspective is just how it is told.

Oh yes it is.

Thanks to Clíona for the photos. For more, see here

Ballyboden St Enda’s: Sean O’Donnell, Cian Mellet, Naoise Maguire, Barry McCarthy, Kenneth Wigglesworth, Keith McCarron, Peter English, Dave O’Connor (0-1), Eoghan O’Neill (0-1), James Roche (0-2 (1f)), Jono O’Driscoll (0-2), Matty Weldon (0-2), Davy Keogh, Fergal Ryan (1-5 (4f)), Darragh Kenny (2-4), Conor Kennedy, Karl Reddy, Malachy Codd, James Ryan, Daniel Glynn, Fionn Maguire, Mark Lambert, Cillian Kirwan (0-1), Leon Kennedy (0-1), Rhys McDonnell