BBSE 8 18   St. Oliver Plunkett’s ER 1 17

Ballyboden Senior A hurlers headed to Parnell PArk on a balmy 20th July evening for their first-round tie against St Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh. The All-Ireland Championship over for the year and a record 32 degrees earlier in the week in the Phoenix Park, strange days indeed.

A good start from the ageless Conal Keaney and the industrious Conor McKeon had Boden two points ahead very quickly. A prompt response led by their half forwards saw Plunketts return the compliment as the briefly took the lead. Timmy Hammersley got on the end of a few good deliveries and popped over four nice points to regain the momentum – nine points to four at the quarter hour.

Boden’s workrate was good and they began to turn over a series of Plunketts attacks. Late in the second quarter Luke McDwyer and Niall Ryan found space and shot unerringly to the net.  This gave Boden some breathing space as they left the field on a half-time score of Boden 2-12 to Plunketts 0-10.

Not wishing to allow their opponents any respite, Aidan Mellett and Luke McDwyer with his second gave Boden a blistering start to the second half. Full advantage was taken of the prevailing wind and some nice long-range points were picked off by Paul Ryan and Pearce Christie. The appetite for goals was not yet satisfied however with Ryan and McDwyer raising two more green flags. Plunketts to their credit forged upfield and found the net themselves. As the air cooled and the light faded, Shane Durkin and Eoin Behan added two more goals to round off the evening and send the Boden faithful home happy. We didn’t have  long to wait ‘till Round 2  fixture  against neighbours St Judes who fhad fallen to Na Fianna in their first game.   A shorter journey to O’ Toole Park for the faithful followed on Saturday evening

Ballyboden St Endas 1 18 St Judes 1 12

The loudest cheer from the healthy attendance at a windy O’Toole Park on Saturday evening was reserved for the final whistle with Boden Boden’s qualification for the knock-out stage of the championship all but secured.  Two wins and a healthy score difference puts them in a very strong position with two games to go.  Some  of the attendance were just relieved to see that this “examination” was finally over and they could escape the few drops of welcome rain that were falling. This was a dull contest played in tricky conditions, the strong wind bobbing and weaving from Ben Dunnes back door towards the entrance goals. Also the ground was so rock-hard that a few dropping balls simply walloped off the sod and over the bar, one of which was a puck-out from Boden goal-man Finn McGarry. The result had a predictable outcome when considering the fact that Judes could have fielded a stronger team in the USofA, at least according to the club’s “best” supporter Patsy.

Apart from the result, the crowd also had a number of confirmations, that Judes’ Danny (Sutcliffe) is a fluent operator and he moving through the crowded middle like a Nureyev protecting a precious Ming vase, that Emeritus Prof. of the Caman Conal Keaney is essential to Boden’s Championship campaign, and that a free-taker of Paul Ryan’s calibre is invaluable in tight games. His ability to drive the ball like a gun-shot, as well as his trickery in retaining possession in close quarter defines his contribution. His two line-cuts, one of which went over, were a joy to watch.

Judes will rue the number of wides and missed chances they had in the opening half when playing with the wind and they went to the “locker-room” in arrears 1.06 to eight points. For their total they depended on placed-balls for most of it, Joe McManus the converter. Boden scored more off fewer chances, the precisely-placed goal from Pearce Christie being a big help. Sutcliffe’s marker Simon Lambert chipped in with a quality brace of points and Keaney , with the support of Luke Corcoran, bagged a smasher of a point. Down the middle Boden’s Timmy Hammersley and Christie were working hard to create the opportunities off “ruck” ball. Ryan did his job well with three placed balls over the black-spot. For Judes Alan Connolly bagged a long-ranger and Danny escaped the clutches of the Boden defence for his solitary point.

The second half drifted through along predictable lines with Keaney dominant on the half-forward line. Ryan kept scoring from placed-balls as well as one from play, and Hammersley and Luke McDwyer each scored from long-range. Judes slipped further behind, even though full-forward Mark McGann was warming to the challenge with a brace of points. Keaney bagged his second of the evening to open a five-point lead and the wind holding up in Boden’s favour. A Niall Ryan possession brought Shane Durkin into the scoring zone and he further punished Judes from fifty metres. Towards the end of the game, a Judes goal from about twenty-three metres out caused some excitement, but most of the final minutes were played with Boden attacking, resulting in a Niall Ryan point off a Christie pass, along with a brace of 65’s from Ryan. Along the way there was a “meaty” tackle on Keaney that could have required a visit to the Mayo clinic, or even a quack bone-setter. As it turned out we only had a “carta-bui”.

Apart from Keaney, Ryan and Lambert, Christie put in a big shift and the Boden full-back line of Dean Curran, Paddy Dunleavy and Captain Durkin did well in limiting the opportunities for Judes. Sutcliffe might have shown up better if his support could have fed off his efforts.

Boden have a “bye” in Round 3 and then two tasty games to follow against Cuala and Na Fianna. We will know a lot more about our title ambitions  after those games.

Squad; Finn McGarry, Shane Durkin, Dean Curran, Paddy Dunleavy, John Maguire, Simon Lambert, Luke Corcoran, Pearce Christie, Niall Ryan, Eoin Behan, Luke McDwyer, Timmy Hammersley, Conor Dooley, Aidan Mellett, Conal Keaney, Paul Ryan, Luke Mulligan-Lynch, David O’Connor, Conor O’Donoghue, Mattie Weldon, Conor McKeon.

Thanks to Clíona and John for photographs

Click here for photos from Judes game

Click here for photos from OPER game