Ballyboden St. Enda’s 2-8
Na Fianna 0-7

Report by Kevin Doherty

For the second year in a row, Ballyboden St.Enda’s faced off against northside rivals, Na Fianna. Almost a year to the day in 2022, Ballyboden had secured their first intermediate title in fifty-one years and were now bidding for a second in two years.
In the semi-final Na Fianna comfortably overcame a young Cuala side while Boden beat a strong Ballymun Kickhams team in a titanic struggle.
A fine sunny O’Toole Park in Kimmage was again the venue. Although a bit soft following recent wet weather the pitch was in great condition thanks to the work of the groundsmen.
Both teams started brightly with the Firhouse Road men having the best of the opening exchanges despite failing to score. The deadlock was eventually broken when Cian Grew declined a mark and put the ball over the bar from a tight angle.
Boden responded quickly from the boot of midfielder Ciaran Duggan.  At this stage, Boden were applying more pressure and, playing with the aid of a slight breeze, tagged on a couple of points from the boots of Conal Keaney and Mikey Dunne.
In the fifteenth minute, a kickout from the Ballyboden goalkeeper Josh Kane was deftly flicked on by the towering Mark Walsh in midfield. The ball was gathered by Colly Dunne who raced towards the goal. Ignoring the unmarked player to his right, he played a one-two with his brother and deftly slid the ball under the on-rushing goalkeeper, Ciaran McHugh.
Before half time Boden’s pressure and ball retention was causing problems for the Mobhi Road men. The huge crowd witnessed a gem of a score from Mikey Dunne who dummy soloed on his left side and slotted the ball over off his right peg. Minutes later Luke Byrne hit a monster free with his right foot out on the angle of the sideline and the 45-metre line. Conal Keaney finished the Boden scoring in the first half while Fiachra Potts notched one for Na Fianna.
1-6 to 0-2 at the break was a fair reflection of Boden’s first-half dominance. Boden’s fullback line of Bob Dwan, Fionn Maguire and Conor Hanrahan had operated as a very cohesive impenetrable unit. The marauding running of Robbie O’Reilly and Davy Keogh at wing forward maintained huge pressure on the Na Fianna defence. Na Fianna’s busy men were Sean Hayes at 3 and Niall Cooper at 6.
The first minute of the second half witnessed an accidental collision that resulted in the brave Mark Cooper having to leave the field. The game became a bit more scrappy as the soft pitch began to cut up. Both teams started introducing substitutes to replace players that had succumbed to cramp and the like. One of the Boden substitutes, Eoghan Gannon, introduced at corner back, found himself careering through the centre of the Na Fianna defence with ball in hand and, spotting the keeper off his line, casually lobbed the ball over the hapless McHugh in the Na Fianna goal. Boden were well on top but Na Fianna were not going down with out a fight.

Boden’s swarmed defence kept their goal intact. The halfback line of the two Oisins, Carolan and Byrne and Johnny Murphy continued to do Trojan work. Declan O’Mahony who replaced Mark Walsh just after the break put in a big shift roaming the length and breadth of O’Toole Park to hunt down ball-carrying opponents. Marathon man Ruairi Kirwan also entered the fray and almost immediately shipped a heavy tackle which saw his opponent leave the field on the referee David Murphy’s instructions. The referee put in a commanding performance in what was a tough and lively encounter. Boden added points from the boots of Colly Dunne and Conal Keaney to see out the game. Na Fianna scored a few frees to keep close but not close enough to trouble the southsider’s dominance.

The final whistle was greeted with shouts of joy and cheering from blue-clad Ballyboden supporters. After some complimentary words from the Na Fianna manager, the trophy was presented by Mr Ward to a delighted Boden captain Fionn Maguire who was being watched by his wife Ciara and recent arrival, baby Cadhla.

A very enjoyable game witnessed by a large crowd. Ballyboden can be very proud of their efforts in this competition in recent years by playing a good brand of open and attacking football. The management under the leadership of Donal Monahan and players must be complimented on this historic back-to-back success.

Ballyboden: Josh Kane, Fionn Maguire, Bob Dwan, Conor Hanrahan (Eoghan Gannon), Oisin Byrne, Oisin Carolan (David Gannon), John Murphy, Mark Walsh (Declan O’Mahony), Ciaran Duggan, Robbie O’Reilly (Ruairi Kirwan), Colly Dunne, Davy Keogh (Harry Colclough), Luke Byrne, Conal Keaney,  Mikey Dunne. Subs: Cillian Murray, Davy Keane, Rob Cullen, Karl Reddy, Scott Cullen, Ronan Long, David Leech, Eoin Donne, Ollie Brophy, Ciaran Kiely, Evan Flanagan, Cian Murray, Neil Hester, Cian Mellett, Ste McGrath.

Na Fianna: Ciaran McHugh, Mark Cooper, Sean Hayes, Justin Egan, Hugh Caffrey, Niall Cooper, Eoghan Connolly, Evan Barr, Sean Smith, Fiachra Potts, Ted Regan, Conor Dolan, John Foley, Daniel Marley, Cian Grew.

Thanks to John Kirwan for photos. Click here for more.