Result: 2-09 to 0-09

Boden ousted by Crokes in deluge at Parnell Park

By Shane O’Brien

Thanks to John Kirwan for the pic, more here

Ballyboden are out of the Dublin SFC after a six-point loss at the hands of local rivals Kilmacud Crokes in a rain-soaked Parnell Park on Saturday evening. The concession of goals at crucial stages of the game, coupled with a wastefulness in front of goal, would be Boden’s downfall in atrocious conditions. The game was barely a minute old when Craig Dias gave Crokes raised the first green flag of the evening, and Shane Horan goaled midway through the first half just after Boden had hauled themselves level. Crucially, at one stage Boden went 24 minutes without scoring as Crokes hit 1-04 without reply to move seven points clear, and in such perilous conditions, such a lead was always going to be virtually unassailable. Conditions played a part in Boden’s disastrous start, when the ball skipped through for full forward Dara Mullin, who unselfishly squared to Dias, leaving him with the simplest of finishes. Boden replied strongly and reduced the arrears almost instantly when Colm Basquel jinked his way through the Crokes’ defence and curled over their first point of the day. A Pat Burke free restored Crokes’ three-point buffer, but two pointed frees from Ryan Basquel, and a snapshot from Robbie McDaid had Boden level on the quarter hour mark. Paul Mannion and Colm Basquel traded frees to leave the scores level after twenty minutes, but it would mark the last time the sides were level as disaster struck for Boden. First, Andrew McGowan split the posts with the outside of his right boot to give Crokes the lead again. Boden went long from the resulting kickout and surrendered cheap possession, which was quickly converted into a second Crokes goal. Andrew McGowan ran unopposed at the Boden defence and fed wing-forward Shane Horan, who benefitted from a slice of luck when his shot was deflected into the back of the net past Darragh Gogan.

With Crokes leading by four, Boden had plenty of opportunities to cut the deficit before the interval, but thrice balls were dropped short into the hands of Crokes netminder David Nestor. Michael Dara MacAuley also saw a rasping shot come back off the underside of the crossbar, with Nestor beaten all ends up, as half time approached. Boden were made to pay for their wayward shooting when Dara Mullin curled over to extend Crokes’ lead to five on the stroke of half time.

There was a feeling that Boden needed a strong start to the second half if they were to mount a comeback, but it never materialised. Substitute Ross McGarry had the chance to get Boden off the mark in the second half, but instead became the fourth player to drop a ball into Nestor’s hands. Yet again, Boden were punished almost instantly when Shane Cunningham fired over his first point of the day to put two goals between the teams. Crokes were in the ascendency and sniffed blood, and for almost ten second half minutes, Boden couldn’t make it out of their own half. However, Crokes finishing deserted them and they only had a long-range Paul Mannion free to show for a period of utter dominance. With Boden clinging onto their championship lives by their fingertips, Ryan Basquel landed a huge score that proved to be the catalyst for a Boden revival.

Suddenly, momentum was with the 2016 All Ireland Champions and they began to show their mettle, winning almost every ball. For ten second half minutes, every Crokes kickout was won, sometimes uncontested by the Boden midfield as they attempted to stage a miraculous comeback, and three pointed frees from Colm Basquel (2) and Ryan Basquel left a score between the teams with eight minutes of normal time remaining. A comeback not only seemed possible at this stage, but entirely likely as Crokes had no answer to the pressure that was being applied to their kickout and simply could not retain possession. But as conditions continued to worsen, the ball became more difficult to handle and one handling error proved enough to lift the Boden siege. A wayward Nestor kickout was fumbled, and rather than providing a platform for another Boden attack, it enabled Crokes to relieve some of the pressure on their goal by holding possession in the final third. An off the ball foul allowed Paul Mannion to land a monster free and put two scores between the teams once again. That score seemed to kill off any hopes of a comeback and a pointed free from Cian O’Connor sealed the result. There was still time for the impressive Andrew McGowan to round off the scoring with his second point from play.

It was a game that will go down as one that Boden lost, rather than one that Crokes won. The Stillorgan side did nothing spectacular but were clinical when they needed to be. Boden simply weren’t. In total, five balls were dropped into David Nestor’s hands, and only three of their nine points came from play, something that will always be punished in a championship semi-final. Boden were on top for  periods of the game, but just couldn’t convert that dominance into scoreboard pressure, and they will surely rue the 24-minute scoreless spell they endured which saw Crokes pull away.

There are, however, plenty of positives to take from the 2018 championship season and one would have to assume that Boden will be there or thereabouts this time next year.