Result: 0-11 to 0-10
A barnstorming final quarter helped Ballyboden overcome Clontarf by the narrowest of margins in the opening round of the Dublin Senior Football Championship at O’Toole Park. In an otherwise lacklustre display, Boden scored five without reply in the final 15 minutes to save their blushes and get their Championship campaign off to a winning start. Coming up against Clontarf in the Championship for the first time since the 2015 semi-final, Boden suffered similar problems again this year. 2015’s clash was a low scoring affair, and this one was no different with scoring chances at a premium. Like 2015, Boden would steal an unlikely victory they never looked like stealing moments earlier.
Playing with the aid of a stiff breeze, Clontarf took an early lead after sloppy handling in the Boden defence led to an easy free, which Nathan Doran duly converted. An abrasive run from Warren Egan drew a free in front of the posts and Ross McGarry made no mistake to draw Boden level. He put them ahead from the resulting kickout after he latched onto the breaking ball and curled over off his left. Doran and Kevin Lillis responded with a free apiece for Clontarf in a laborious opening quarter rife with errors and void of real scoring chances from play. Boden’s slow start was almost punished even more severely when Matias MacDonncha went through on goal but he saw his goal bound effort cannon off the cross bar. Another free from Lillis put two between the sides. He registered his side’s first score from play seconds later when he gathered a wayward kickout and split the posts to leave a goal between them.
Ryan Basquel steadied the ship with a much needed close range free, but Lillis pointed on the run moments later to restore the three point buffer. Another Clontarf free and Lillis pointed for the fifth time to give the Northside club some breathing space. Boden needed a score, and they got one when Ross McGarry pointed off his left as the interval approached. Boden had struggled to break down Clontarf in the opening 30 minutes and were often let down by handling errors when they did look to have broken through the rigid defensive structure.
The second half began as the first ended, with Boden still struggling to keep hold of possession or to create scoring chances. Indeed it was Lillis with his sixth of the day, a high hanging effort, that opened the scoring after seven second half minutes to stretch Clontarf’s lead to four, before a fisted effort from Kieron McKeon had Boden in deep trouble. That score seemed to kick Boden into life and they finally started to make use of the strong wind at their backs. A curling Sean Gibbons effort from distance reduced the arrears and that was followed by an almost identical effort from Alan Flood.
And yet indiscipline still proved to be Boden’s Achilles heel and a cheap free allowed Lillis to curb Boden’s fledgling momentum. Boden, however, had increased the intensity and responded in kind with two frees of their own, before Brian Bobbett scored after a long period of possession to leave the minimum between the sides. Clontarf were becoming increasingly defensive as their lead came under threat and a resurgent Boden drew level with a long range free from Ryan Basquel. A tense ending followed with both sides snatching at chances to clinch the game, but Basquel was handed the chance to steal a victory that was scarcely deserved when Boden were awarded another long range free. He made no mistake, and Boden led for just the second time.
Clontarf pushed for a last gasp equaliser, but could find no way through a watertight defence and Boden were able to hold on for a gusty victory.
Thanks to John Kirwan for the photos, see more here