Ballyboden St Endas 2.25 Cuala 1.21. Early goals send the saints into the semi-final “Are we the undercard?”, says me man on the way into Parnell Park on Sunday afternoon for the quarter-final of the Senior 1 Hurling Championship. “Well dew see, the next match has the finalists from the last two years, and we would avoid them, given the choice, would we not?”. “Well, whatever we are, it matters not, when it is knock-out we are all in the same boat, rowing for our survival!”. “Did you just make that up just now?”. The die was well and truly cast in the minds of ‘me man’ and the few who made the journey over the Liffey for this southside clash.
In many ways, this game was decided in the same manner as the Ryder Cup. The early plays opened up a gap that the opposition could not claw back. First half goals from Pearse Christie and Paul Ryan allowed Boden to take a soft lead and hold it for the remainder of the game.
After fourteen minutes, Ryan set up the opening goal with a pass from out on the whitewash. Christie was persistent to point of annoyance in getting the ball off the turf and firing past Sean Brennan in the Cuala goal. The second goal three minutes later has the same level of persistence about it when Kevin Desmond ran straight at the Cuala defence and off-loaded to Ryan. His volley into the net left Brennan no chance of a block. Adding these scores to Ryan’s frees and a brace of points from Shane Durkin, Boden opened a nine- point lead.
Boden’s accuracy was such that they had bagged eight points before their first wide. Cuala were largely dependent on Liam Murphy from frees and points from play from Jamie Conroy, Jake Malone and O’Flynn. Boden’s Conor Dooley worked hard in the half-forward line, taking plenty of the big hits, par-for-course in a contest of this importance. Desmond made a huge contribution, using the ball well in open space and bagging a brace of points. Half-time 2.13 to 0.10
Cuala opened well early in the second half with a quick brace from Murphy and Conroy, quickly cancelled out by Luke McDwyer on one of his customary runs, and Ryan in his trademark style. Cuala’s Con O’Callaghan escaped the clutches of James Madden for a quality point. Conroy and Murphy added for the Dalkey men, but Niall McMorrow pointed after Dooley had cleverly batted the ball to him, and Ryan followed up with his first from play. Score 2.17 to 0.15.
Ryan kept Cuala at bay with a quick brace from frees, cancelled out by Cuala’s Colm Cronin and a Murphy free. As the half developed, Boden kept huge pressure on Brennan in the Cuala goal with shots from Paddy Dunleavy and McDwyer. Ryan was score perfect from placed balls and in the mix he drove one over from a distant line-ball. Cuala bagged their goal late on when Cronin stuck to the task and flashed his shot past Conor O’Donoghue. The Boden replacements also made their mark, with Eoin Behan bagging a tasty brace and Timmy Hammersley with a dipping shot.
While the story of the game centres around Boden’s early scores, huge credit must go to the players in the thick of the physical battle. Madden and Dooley shouldered a pile of hits, and in the process dished out their own share of meaty challenges. Desmond had a fine first half, and Ryan cannot be done without. Others who performed well were Durkin and McDwyer with a brace, the second of which was the end strike of a minute of chaotic physical stuff.
Squad: Conor O’Donoghue, Paddy Dunleavy, Sean McDonnell, Luke Corcoran, James Madden, Simon Lambert, Jack Lambert, Shane Durkin, Aidan Mellett, Luke McDwyer, Adam Kelleher, Paul Ryan, Niall McMorrow, Timmy Hammersley, Pearse Christie, Matty Nolan, Conal Keaney, Cillian Kirwan, Darragh Kenny, Luke Mulligan Lynch, Jim Kennedy, Kevin Desmond, Rob Leddy, Fergal Ryan, Conor Dooley, Eoin Behan.
Thanks to Cliona for the photos. For more, see here