Result: 2 22 to 2 16

Minor A Championship Final Ballyboden St Enda’s v Kilmacud Crokes

O’Toole Park, Armistice Day, 2018

Bending to the laptop to write this article is a difficult task. It is very hard to write about our club teams when we have been beaten, especially in a final. Twenty four lads who are on the cusp of entering into adult hurling gave of their very best over the past years to get to a Minor A Hurling Championship final. It’s not easy to get to that stage. It takes a lot of discipline and dedication to practice week after week, month after month to get to within touching distance of being the best team in the county only to be beaten by what has been over the past eight years – the best team in the county. In truth this Crokes team have haunted us over the years. They have won everything all the way up and their victory over an excellent Ballyboden team proved that they are indeed the best in Dublin and good luck to them.

The story of today’s match was the quintessential ‘game of two halves’. Boden started strongly with an opening goal from a Malachy Codd, Cian Corcoran and Kevin Desmond combination which saw Kev bury to the net within the first minute. During the first fifteen minutes Cian Corcoran played havoc in the square winning an amount of ball and providing passes, scoring chances and frees for his team mates. Adam Kelleher added a 65 soon after the goal. Crokes got up for a point only to concede four more points from Adam Kelleher (another free) Pearce Christie, Luke Mc Dwyer and Adam again. Pearce scored a smashing point of his own making after a speedy run out to the wing. This left Ballyboden 1-6 to 0-4 ahead and we were flying. Adam slotted over another free after Crokes got up for a point and then the Kelleher smarts showed with a quick free across the wide pitch to Kevin Desmond for another over the black spot. Jack Kenny and Cillian Kirwan dominated the middle of the field during this period. However, Crokes were managing to hang in with another Eddie Gibbons free which was answered by Malachy Codd putting one over soon after. But on sixteen minutes our old nemesis Fionn Ó Ceallaigh pinged a scorcher to the net which Jack Lambert could do nothing about. They followed this with another free from Gibbons bringing our great start back to a two point lead (1-09 to 1-07) in our favour). All credit to our lads we rallied again with a point from Pearce on another of his winding runs followed by another free from Adam. The half backs (Patrick Dunleavy, Fergal Ryan and Enda Cashman) delivered plenty of balls into the forwards fair play to them. Ciarán O’Reilly was introduced in the twentieth minute for Malachy (nursing a long-standing injury) and got straight into the action. However, an eight minute spell followed which gave no score for either side at this stage which was frustrating for both sets of players. Then Crokes sent a scoreable free wide on the twenty eighth minute which was followed up by an accurate free from our Adam which got us going again. ON the stroke of the half hour Cillian Kirwan struck an absolute smasher from sixty five yards out which went straight over and Adam added another from a placed ball (65) just before the whistle. This left us in a comfortable position of being six ahead at the break, BBSE 1-14 KC 1-08.

On the resumption of play the match turned completely. Crokes scored a goal and six points without reply in the first ten minutes. We were on the ropes. Our full back line of Joe Mc Grath, Conor Lowe and Seán O’Donnell battled tirelessly but Crokes attacked like a swarm of purple and yellow wasps.

Whereas in our period of domination Crokes managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over we just couldn’t get a score for love nor money when Kilmacud were scoring for sport. The old names came back to haunt us like Marlay’s ghost. Gibbons, Ó Ceallaigh, Grogan et al were on fire. Even when Adam Kelleher struck one over which was flagged by the umpire the decision was reversed by the referee – nothing was going our way. Eoin Behan was sprung from the bench for Ciarán O’Reilly who had poured his heart into it.

It was a full seventeen minutes before we registered our first score of the half, a very hard won point from the determined and tenacious Kevin Desmond. Feargal Ryan put a long range free over shortly afterwards which gave us some hope only to have that hope dashed by five more Crokes scores leaving the score at 2-21 to 1-16. The management made a few changes bringing on Joe Maguire and Peter Gannon but nothing could push back the tide. We took a small consolation from a goal from Cillian Kirwan who smashed a free from thirty yards out to the back of the Crokes net. But this was to be the last score of the game. On the final whistle the loud ballyhoo from the Crokes players and support was hard to take. The Boden lads had given their all. They had poured every last drop of themselves into that match. They were beaten on the day and that’s just it.

However, the great thing about sport is that there is always another day. There is always another competition and another match.  We are very lucky. We will line out again against Crokes in the Minor A Football Championship Semi-Final next Sunday over in Silverpark. Paul Mc Laughlin and Liam Carter who were there to support the lads today will be planning and plotting the destruction of the purple and yellow already. Niall, Martin and Emmet will lead another assault on Crokes in the Hurling League Final the Sunday after that again. So there’s lots to look forward to. There’s plenty of young lads all over Dublin who would give their right arm to be able to play in just one of these big matches. Our boys get to play in a flurry of them and rightly so. They have trained hard for many years to get to this standard. They have had the best of coaching and are very fortunate indeed to get the opportunity to represent such a magnificent club. So it’s on and up for Ballyboden Minors who are at the top in both football and hurling in Dublin – well done lads, your families, your club and your community is very proud of you.

Team: Jack Lambert, Joe Mc Grath, Conor Lowe, Seán O’Donnell, Patrick Dunleavy, Fergal Ryan (0-2f), Enda Cashman, Jack Kenny, Cillian Kirwan (1-1), Luke Mc Dwyer (0-1), Pearce Christie (0-3), Kevin Desmond (1-2), Malachy Codd (0-1), Cian Corcoran, Adam Kelleher 0-6 (4F, 1 ’65) Ciarán O’Reilly, Eoin Behan, Ciarán Mc Donnell, Peter Gannon, Cillian Wall, Luke Mulligan Lynch, Joe Maguire, Darragh Kenny.