After months of training and preparation Saturday 17th of May finally arrived – the group stages of the Hurling Feile 2014. Having volunteered again to host one of the groups the organising committee’s preparations rivalled, or even outdid, those of the team with the fundraising, organising and catering expertly handled by an army of parents and volunteers led in particular by Ted Dalton, Carina Cashman and Des Nolan. Now it was up to the boys to reach the same standards. Drawn in a group with current league champions Kilmacud Crokes, Lucan & Cuala The Boden u14A’s were quietly confident of progressing.

Pairc Ui Mhurchu was in perfect condition as Boden took on Cuala in their first match. Playing with the breeze a bright start saw Boden register the first score – Kevin Desmond pointing after a goalmouth scramble. With the lions share of possession Boden peppered the Cuala goal but a mixture of good saves and bad luck meant that despite good performances from forwards Ciaran O’Reilly & Conor Kelly at half time the team were only a point ahead.

After the break Boden lost their way a little and Cuala grew in confidence. The Boden defence came under sustained pressure and strong performances from Jacques Dalton, Ruairi MacMathuna and Conor Lowe weren’t enough to prevent Cuala moving ahead. A couple of late goals for Cuala made the scoreline worse than it might have been but there was no avoiding the fact that it was a bad result – the worst possible start to the tournament. Boden backs were to the wall.

Into the dressing room – Lucan next. The job now to get heads right again for the challenge ahead. Calming words from team coach Martin Kenny and the improvement was obvious from the throw-in. Dillon Dunleavy was hurling well up front and the midfield pairing of Jack Daly-Kenny and Cillian Kirwan were taking a grip at midfield. However it was the incredible workrate of the backs – particularly Matthew Fitzpatrick,  Ruairi Mac Mathuna and Enda Cashman’s bottling up Lucan’s giant centre-half forward – the 6’1″ Andrew Carroll that gave Boden the platform to drive on. Down the other end a goalmouth scramble saw Ciaran O’Reilly poke home from close range meaning Boden went in at the break ahead despite a late Lucan goal. Goalkeeper Matthew Nolan, who had a great day, could do nothing to stop a powerful drive from Lucan’s dangerman, Carroll.

Into the second half and Boden continued to hurl solidly – Mikey Lovett was unlucky not to score with an effort soon after his introduction. Jack O’Sullivan was doing Trojan work and James Smith and Ciaran McDonnell were adding to the defensive effort that kept Lucan almost scoreless in the second period. As ever Luke McDwyer was proving ultra-reliable from frees to keep the scoreboard ticking over and Boden ran out six-point winners (1-10 – 1-04).

Now. Crokes. Unbeaten in Dublin in this age group since they left academy, but Boden had drawn with them and ran them close so the lads weren’t daunted (or if they were they refused to show it). Manager Niall Desmond issued the instructions – games with Crokes have always been tactical battles. A bright start and Joe McGrath, hurling well,  registered the first score. Then another from Luke McDwyer. Belief began to spread. So much so that even a Crokes goal late in the half didn’t make heads drop. Boden notched the last two scores of the half to go in just the minimum behind.

The second half. A stiff breeze, and Crokes, in their faces – now was not the time for faint hearts. Our three new faces from the u-13 ranks – Fergal Ryan, Sean O’Donnell and Jack Lambert were doing themselves – and the club – proud. A goal from Jack Daly-Kenny.Some incredible points. Long range frees from Cillian Kirwan and Ruairi MacMathuna. With just ten minutes to go the match was still nip-and-tuck. Then, just as a wind-assisted Crokes edged ahead, came news of a surprising score line across the road. Lucan were beating Cuala. If it stayed like that then it might all come down to points difference for second place. It was vital to battle to the end – which the boys did with great heart.

Nail biting time – and time for venue co-ordinator Brendan Ryan to dust-off his maths tables. With tally men from 3 clubs looking on he finally announced the result. Boden were through by the narrowest of margins. But a win is a win and the boys live to hurl another day -against Whitehall in Marlay Park tomorrow morning at 10.30. We encourage everyone to come and support the lads in what is almost a home venue and drive them on to Parnell Park in the afternoon for (hopefully) another crack at Crokes.

Finally – thanks to all those who helped in any way but particularly those who gave so much time and effort in preparation and over the weekend itself. To the committee – Ted, Des, Carina, Maria, Belinda, Mike, Catherine & Sandra – thanks for everything. Our team doctor – Elaine McDwyer,  and venue co-ordinator Brendan Ryan  & also to umpires and linesmen – Malachy, Paul, Damien and Ray thanks a million. Finally – From all involved with the u14A’s thanks to the parents and supporters – we hope to see ye all again in the morning and in Parnell Park tomorrow afternoon.

Click here for photos from John Kirwan
Donagh McGrath