Report By Shane O’Brien, Pic by Cliona Mellet more here

Ballyboden are through to the quarter finals of the Dublin Senior Football Championship despite a less-than-impressive draw with Oliver Plunkett’s in Parnell Park on Friday evening. Boden led for the vast majority of the game and at times appeared to be coasting to victory and a quarter final berth, however, second half goals from Bernard Brogan and Rory O’Connor ensured a nervous finish for the Firhouse Road side.

A win and a loss from their opening two games meant that Boden’s fate was not exactly black and white. A win would not have guaranteed progression if Raheny managed to beat Kilmacud by six or seven points in Group One’s other fixture, while a defeat might not spell the end if Kilmacud beat Raheny. A five-point Plunkett’s victory, coupled with Kilmacud defeating Raheny, would have seen the Northsiders progress at Boden’s expense, and when Plunkett’s hit the front as the game entered five minutes of stoppage time that scenario seemed entirely plausible. Thankfully, Boden weathered the storm and finished the stronger of the two teams.

With those permutations in mind, Boden took the lead after just two minutes when the excellent Ryan Basquel curled over off his left and Ross McGarry swung over a point off the opposite wing to double the lead almost instantly. Colm Basquel and Gareth Smith swapped frees as the game quickly fell into a pattern of Boden retaining vast amounts of possession and Plunkett’s retreating into a defensive system that Boden would struggle to break down. Shane Durkin did manage to extend Boden’s lead with a well taken point off his left, but that was swiftly cancelled out by Plunkett’s centre forward Sean Bugler, who was by far their brightest spark in an otherwise dull first half for the Northsiders.

Ryan Basquel, operating in a two-man full forward line with Ross McGarry, flourished in the role of talisman and added to his tally with a brilliant individual score. Then followed a ten-minute lull where neither team came remotely close to threatening the opposition goal. That drought was ended by Basquel who caressed over his third from play to extend Boden’s lead to four on the cusp of half-time.

There was time for Plunkett’s to reduce the arrears with a long range free, and they reduced it even further upon the restart when half-time substitute and Dublin stalwart Alan Brogan fired over a classy point. Within a minute Brogan was walking towards the line having been dismissed for retaliating to an off the ball incident with Bob Dwan, who was also given his marching orders for striking Brogan. Their dismissals somewhat opened up a tight game, and Boden stretched the lead to three with a Ryan Basquel free, but that lead was wiped out in the blink of an eye by second half substitute Bernard Brogan who fired a low shot past Boden netminder Darragh Gogan after a blatant foul on Cathal Flaherty gave possession to Plunketts inside the Boden 21.

With 20 minutes remaining, there was plenty of time for Plunkett’s to find the five points required to progress in second place, but Boden showed excellent resolve and effectively cancelled out Brogan’s goal with three quickfire points from Conal Keaney (2) and Ryan Basquel. Keaney’s second was a joy to behold as he cracked over an effort from the right touchline with his weaker right foot.

Plunkett’s kept in touch with a point from Sean Bugler and a 45 from Gareth Smith to reduce the deficit to the minimum with ten minutes remaining. Ryan Basquel gave Boden some slight breathing space when he landed a monster free from just outside the 45, however, Boden would play the dangerous game of holding possession and were made to pay dearly for it. Firstly, a wayward kickout landed in Bernard Brogan’s midriff and he duly punished the error with a point to halve the deficit. Then, with injury time looming, Boden were caught in possession in their own 45 by a ravenous Plunkett’s forward line.AnchorThat turnover was quickly fed through to midfielder Ross McConnell who had the awareness to square for Rory O’Connor who had the easiest of tasks to palm to the empty net.

With Plunkett’s now leading Boden by two and a lengthy injury time inbound, Boden now found themselves in a perilous position that they should never been in. Thankfully, the 2016 All Ireland Champions had the wherewithall and experience to see the game out, winning two close range frees to level proceedings in the process.

Kilmacud’s 0-07 – 0-04 victory over Raheny ensured that Boden progressed to the quarter-finals as runners up in Group One, but a vast improvement is required against whoever they are drawn against in the QF. Boden were at times overly reliant on the exploits of Ryan Basquel up front and were wasteful in front of goal. At the back they could do with tightening up their defence and reducing goal chances for the opposition.

But Boden are still in the reckoning for the Dublin Championship, and, while there remains plenty of room for improvement, that is absolutely the main thing.

Ballyboden: Darragh Gogan; Bob Dwan (S/O); Cathal Flaherty; Shane Clayton; Robbie McDaid; Darragh Nelson; Shane Durkin; Michael D. MacAuley; Declan O’Mahoney; Darren O’Reilly; Ryan Basquel; Sean Gibbons; Ross McGarry; Colm Basquel; Conal Keaney

Subs Used: Simon Lambert; Alan Flood; Aran Waters; Kieran Kennedy