Gizmo reports from the County Final
“It will be a slow weepy slide down the shower wall for me”, said an emotional Declan Maguire immediately after a heartbreaking loss to Kilmacud Crokes in the 2023 County Final. The stress of the occasion was evident, as Maguire looked like he had a stroke on both sides of his face.
The Boden supporters were streaming down Stannaway Avenue from 10.30 am. Spotted in the crowd were the likes of Donagh O’Farrell, who looks well for someone twice his age. Jack Nolan, who lights up a room when he leaves. Tony Hassett, who has had 3 personal chefs, the first two died of exhaustion. Danny O’Connell, a man who is as steady as the rock his personality was carved from. And Eugene Duffy, who, back in the day was a real head turner, now all he can turn is stomachs. It was a right mixed bag of waifs and strays. But, in fairness, they made the effort to leave the bar for an hour and get some much-needed sunlight on the jaundiced faces. The Boden faithful were truly out in numbers to roar on the Junior A’s in their first-ever County Final.
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 Crokes who play their football in a division above us,” said coach Tadhg Cashman, who is the only mentor who increases the average age, whilst simultaneously lowering the average IQ of the management team. Shooting into the road end, Crokes started brighter and were testing the Boden back six. Conditions were heavy underfoot and scores were hard to come by. Boden defended with ferocious intensity and frustrated the Crokes marksmen. When the game settled, Boden began to execute their game plan. A point from Murphy cancelled out the Crokes opener from play. Breaking at pace, Boden began to create chances but unfortunately, a lot of shots were wide of the chopsticks.
A free from Cashman (Enda) saw Boden go to the break 3 points to 2 down, which is an excellent return after playing up the hill. And a testimony to the work rate within the team. “A wind and a hill never won a game”, said a shook looking Brendan Meaney who, judging by the state of him, only learned to walk upright that morning. He went on to say, “This is a big occasion, and we are really happy with the way things are going. Finals can do funny things to people and lads can get constipated by fear. But we are sticking to the plan and it’s paying dividends”. Brendan’s very much a man of the people, if those people are angry dads that drink too much.
Boden came out of the blocks like a freight train, registering 3 scores in the first 11 minutes of the 2nd half, stunning Crokes into a personnel reshuffle. Leading 5 points to 3, Boden looked to be in total control. A rare Crokes attack yielded a 21-yard free, and the subsequent attempted point dropped short and somehow found its way into the Boden net. Crokes got the next point from play and suddenly momentum switched the other way. In the ensuing mayhem, Boden regrouped and reverted to the original game plan. As the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes, Boden were on top again but were not converting their chances, as the wide count hit double figures. A converted 45 from keeper McNamee, cut the Crokes lead to two points. This was followed by a monster free from nearly 50 yards out. Up stepped the unflappable McNamee to add the Cheese and Crackers and Boden were within but a solitary score to take the game to extra time. But unfortunately, time ran out. O’Toole park was littered with the bodies of warriors as the final whistle sounded. Men broken by their efforts, exhausted, drained and (temporarily) demoralised.
“This special group of players completed over 100 training sessions and fixtures since January, and they just fell short 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 Paul Dolan. It takes a bit of time to get to know the real Paul and a degree in criminal psychology wouldn’t go amiss. Walking out of O’Toole park, I tripped over mentor Declan Maguire who was rolled up in a ball, rocking backwards and forwards, uncontrollably sobbing and roaring random obscenities at passersby. “How do you feel about the game, Declan?”, I casually asked. “Like I’ve taken a wire brush to my haemorrhoids, Gizmo”, he replied. What can I say about Maguire? He can’t pass a pub but, by jaysus can he pass a remark.
When the dust settles and the pain of the defeat subsides, the Junior A team of 2023 can look back on an incredible journey that they undertook together. Their communication, work rate, visualisation, positivity not only cemented their place as the first ever Boden side to get to a County final at this grade, but are skills that will carry them a long way in life.
Final Score: BBSE 0-7 Kilmacud Crokes 1-5
The Panel: Mark McNamee (0-2 (1x 45 & 1 xF)), Mark Reynolds, Fionn Keating McDermott, David Monahan, Luke Mulligan Lynch, Joe Maguire, Richard O’Halloran, Dan Lynch, Conor Kennedy, Enda Cashman (0-1 x F), Karl Weldon (0-1), Jim Kennedy,
John McGinn, Jimmy Meaney (0-1), Jake Turley, Aodhan O’Reilly, Adam Farrell, Ciaran Cashman (0-1 x F), Laurence Murphy (0-1), Jack Hutchinson, Eoghan Monahan, Cian Hassett, Joey Donoghue, Connell McGlynn, Colm Humphreys, Paddy McWalter, Jack O’Connor, Sam Lally, Barry O’Donnell
Special thanks to Cliona Mellett and Sean Gilheaney for the photographs.