Result: 2-12 to 0-12

Stuttering Boden off the mark

Ballyboden St Enda’s….. 2-12 Naomh Olaf………………. 0-12

Ballyboden St Enda’s are through to the second round of the Dublin SFC following an unconvincing six point victory over Naomh Olaf in O’Toole Park. Early goals from Ryan Basquel and Sam Molony gave Boden breathing space and they never looked in serious threat of surrendering their advantage. Far removed from the glory of Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day, Boden seemed uninspired for large parts of Friday’s game, and never looked to move out of second gear. They were not helped, however, by a poor refereeing display from Andrew Cummins that took any flow from the game. Nor were they helped by the difficult playing conditions caused by the torrential sleet beforehand. It was evident early on that conditions were not favourable, with players on both sides slipping on the wet turf and it was Olaf’s who settled quicker into game, registering two points without reply inside five minutes, the first a beauty from Dublin inter-county player David Byrne. Boden, however, responded ruthlessly and the game seemed all but over five minutes later. Firstly, the excellent Ryan Basquel was alert to intercept a slack pass, before playing a quick one-two with Robbie McDaid and palming into the empty net. The goal seemed to settle Boden and within a minute Ryan’s brother Colm had kicked a lovely score off his left following a patient passage of play from the All Ireland Champions. Not to be outdone, Ryan kicked a lovely left footed effort of his own from the tightest of angles to leave a goal between the teams. Unsurprisingly, he was heavily involved in Boden’s second goal, brilliantly fielding a long ball while under pressure before setting Darren O’Reilly through on goal. O’Reilly showed great composure to square to Sam Molony who was left with a simple finish. The sides traded frees before Boden were dealt a blow when they lost corner back Shane Clayton to injury. The game struggled to find any rhythm following Clayton’s injury as free after free was awarded by a whistle happy referee, taking any flow from what had been an entertaining game. This did not suit either side, preventing Boden from building on their lead, whilst also preventing Olaf’s from making a notable comeback before half time. The sides would trade scores twice more before half time, with Sam Molony registering the pick of them.  The corner forward did well to field a long ball from Declan O’Mahoney before turning his man and slotting the ball over the black spot from distance. Boden were dealt another injury blow just before half time as Aran Waters, the hero of last year’s Leinster final went off with what appeared to be an arm injury.

It had been by no means a vintage half from Boden, but they had stepped up when was needed and had the game by the scruff of the neck at the interval. They could have well and truly killed off the game straight after half time, but passed up a number of good goalscoring opportunities. Seconds after Colm Basquel had opened the second half scoring with a brilliant point off his right, Darren O’Reilly crashed against the post when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Midfielder Michael Darragh Macauley had the ball in the net soon after that, but he was judged, perhaps harshly, to have committed a foul in the build up. Olaf’s passed up a glorious opportunity of their own, when Padraig Hanley lifted the ball cleverly over the onrushing Darragh Gogan, but luckily for Boden his shot went over the bar for a point. Ryan Basquel then had a brilliant chance to add his second after a long ball broke his way, but his shot was well tipped over by Olaf’s net minder Dillon Rafferty for a point. The referee took centre stage hereafter, and the game ceased to be much of a spectacle, as again frees were given in dubious circumstances under the smallest amounts of contact. The man in the middle seemed only too happy to brandish the yellow card and booked a number of Ballyboden’s players for innocuous challenges. Despite this, Boden moved into a seemingly unassailable eight point through scores from Conal Keaney and Sam Molony. Numerous scoreable frees were given against Boden in harsh circumstances and Olaf’s began to chip away at the lead, bringing it down to four points and making life a little uncomfortable for players and spectators alike. To their credit, Olaf’s employed a good gameplan, and their high pressure made it very difficult for Boden to get out of their own half. As the game neared its conclusion, Boden were able to tag on a couple of scores through Colm Basquel and Barra McGarry, but even then the full time whistle was greeted with some relief from the Boden supporters. The Basquel brothers were the standout performers on Friday, along with Sam Molony and Darragh Nelson. Ryan Basquel was particularly impressive on a day that Boden did not reach the levels they had been reaching recently. He scored 1-02 as well as winning numerous frees and setting up the other goal.

Boden will not play again in the Dublin Championship until late September/early October, which highlights the structural problems that exist in the club championship. This group of players won an All Ireland only last month and are expected to go straight back into competitive championship games.  They have been on the road for a year now, and surely it is difficult to pump yourself up to go again straight away. What’s more, they will not play a championship game for five months, which strips the momentum from every side that won over the weekend. Surely it makes more sense to have the first round closer to the second round, rather than have an isolated first round that nobody will remember come October. Andy McEntee will not be able to take anything from this game as any number of things could change in the next five months. There could be players called up to the Dublin team, there could be loss of form, or injury. There is absolutely no way of telling what will happen in five months of competitive sport. The only good thing for McEntee is that there is plenty of time for the likes of Shane Clayton and Aran Waters to recover from their respective injuries.