Champions!!! No-one can put it better so we’ll leave Gizmo to tell the tale…
The Microprocessor was invented, and decimalisation was introduced. A pint cost 15p. Donal Monahan celebrated his 21st birthday. Jack Lynch was in the Dail while de Valera was in the Park. A box of 10 fags was 17p. Former Taoiseach Lemass dies while a Walkinstown literary genius is born. Battered Cod & Chips 25p. RTE broadcasts in colour, and you could buy a house for £7,500. While Quicksilver, Wanderly Wagon and The Riordans provided the ‘water cooler’ moments of the time. Until today, it was also the one and only year that Ballyboden won the Intermediate Football Championship.
Like Jones Road on a summer Sunday, the Boden supporters were streaming down Stannaway Avenue from 10.30am. Bare chested with bellies hiding waistbands, hungover and up for a fight, they had a John Player blue smouldering in one hand and a can of Bulmers in the other……………….as for their husbands, that’s another story. Although their team were underdogs, an air of expectation hung heavily in the atmosphere. “All they have to do is stick to the game plan”, said a pissed up Donagh O’Farrell, who has an unhealthy fondness for an early morning tipple ever since becoming club Chairman.
Judging by the aroma emanating from the dressing rooms, even the most seasoned players were feeling the pre match nerves. “We were looking for a good solid start against Na Fianna who already beat us in the group stage”, said coach Spud Murphy, who is the only mentor who increases the average age, whilst simultaneously lowering the average IQ of the management team. Team captain and Coup d’état leader, Fionn Maguire took the toss and, somewhat controversially, Boden managed to be playing up the hill and into the wind in the first half.
With Na Fianna playing their familiar brand of 13 men behind the ball, scores would be hard to come by. Patient play and controlled handling yielded a couple of free’s that were coolly dispatched by Sweeney. Boden’s only point from open play came from the boot of Dunne (Michael), while netminder Kane slotted a lovely long range free to leave the bare minimum between the sides at 5 points to 4 after an intense 25 minutes. Selfless running from O’Reilly and McGuire was key to shutting down Na Fianna attacks. Like a Werther’s Original, the pair are silky and smooth to look at but if you’re not careful, will break your teeth. Na Fianna pressed hard and added 2 further points to lead by 3 at the break. “A wind and a hill, never won a game,” muttered an inebriated Donagh O’Farrell, as the spectators beside him braced themselves for the onslaught of cliches and subtly shuffled away.
Coach Young delivered a factual halftime team talk and reiterated the basics. While selector and legendary volcanic hothead, Mick Maher, cut loose on the lads. The air around O’Toole Park turned a Bernard Manning shade of blue, as his use of expletives had religious iconography diving for cover. It was reported afterwards that Maher was like a cross between a grizzly bear and a panic attack. But whatever happened, it worked. Boden took the game to Na Fianna and delivered an exhibition of football that saw them turn a 3-point deficit into a 7-point lead.
From the whistle powerhouse Cullen, ran at the heart of Na Fianna defence and blasted the ball over the bar. Sweeney added a brace before defender Murphy’s outrageous effort from the whitewash on the stand side, a full 45 yards out. After checking with officials, the referee awarded the point. The introduction of Codd and Kirwan added an impetus that looked ominous for the Northsiders. Score of the day fell to Codd, who ran a full 50 yards with various Na Fianna players hanging out of him and still managed to scoop the ball over the bar off his left peg. Another incisive move and killer pass from Dunne (Colm) to Dunne (Michael) created a 2 on 1, and a deft flick over the keeper’s head allowed Codd palm the ball into the empty net. Boden were rampant and Na Fianna were falling apart like a badly packed Kebab. Another sharp move released Cullen who coolly dispatched the ball towards the bottom right-hand corner, only for the Na Fianna keeper to pull off an outrageous save and keep his team in the contest.
“With a 7-point lead and 8 minutes remaining, we just needed to close the game out. We introduced Hanifin, Colcough and Duggan to calm things down and retain possession”, said team manager Donal Monahan, who has football running through his veins, along with dangerously high levels of saturated fat. However, Na Fianna bagged a fortunate goal just as the clock turned to 60 minutes and they threw everything at Boden. The defensive unit of Gray, Lambert, Coup Leader, Carolan, Murphy and Gannon were not for shifting and their ferocious tackling and relentless work rate broke down most Na Fianna sorties. As quick as the ball was turned over, it was delivered down field and dispatched over the bar by a now unrestrained Michael Dunne.
As the final whistle sounded, the players fell to the ground. The weight of expectation was lifted and the magnitude of what they achieved sank in. Noel Callen, who played on the ’71 team, was first on the pitch to congratulate the lads, while the spirit of Paddy Kirwan and Aidan Gallagher was tangible around the ground. As team captain Fionn Maguire accepted the cup, he spoke eloquently of past mentors and club officials from all grades, who developed the players into the force that they are today. Emotional stuff.
“This special group of players completed over 100 training sessions and fixtures since February, and they got their deserved rewards today. They are committed, driven, polite and a credit to their families and the club. They’re an absolute pleasure to be around”, said mentor and official cones putter outer Maguire. Declan may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but in fairness, he’s still a tool. As the afternoon sun drenched a now silent O’Toole Park, the players, mentors and supporters retreated to the various hostelries around Dublin 14 & 16 to continue the celebrations long into the night. 50 different sets of players and mentors have tried to emulate the success of the ’71 team and come up just short. That was until today. The Intermediate team of 2022 will be forever linked together by their achievements and will surely feature in Gerry O’Sullivan’s second edition of the club’s illustrious history. Fair play lads.
Special thanks to Neil Buckingham, Clíona Mellett and the Boden communications team for helping promote the significance of the game. To the football committee, photographers, physios and bar staff who ably assisted the team and its band of bewildered mentors to get through the season. You are entitled to a Carers Allowance for your efforts.
So that’s that. All that’s left for me to say is, “For the BBSE weekly roundup, I’ve been Gizmo, it’s been a blast, OVER and OUT.”
Full Time: BBSE 1-14 Na Fianna 1-11
Team: Josh Kane (0-2 (1xF, 1x’45)), Callum Gray, Jack Lambert, Fionn Maguire, Oisin Carolan, Eoghan Gannon, John Murphy (0-1), Rob Cullen (0-1), Conor Lowe, Robbie O’Reilly, Colm Dunne (0-1), John McGuire, Daire Sweeney ((0-5 (4xF)), Ruairi Kirwan, Michael Dunne (0-3), Luke Byrne, Ciaran Duggan, Stephen McGrath, Evan Flanagan, David Leach, Keith Sweeney, David Keane, Malachy Codd (1-1), Scott Cullen, Tom Hanafin, Harry Colclough, Conor Hanrahan, Barra McGarry, David Keogh
Thanks to John Kirwan for the great pics, see more here