1st Round, BBSE V Crokes.
This eagerly awaited Championship opener between these two fierce rivals threw in at a sun drenched Ballycullen on Saturday last September 14th … a mini Indian summer day! This High Noon encounter was rescheduled from a mid afternoon throw-in time to facilitate the almost as important All-Ireland Football
The expected high-octane shoot-out didn’t disappoint and the large attendance was treated to a high quality tussle that went down to the wire before pre-match and Championship favourites Crokes ultimately snatched it at the death… with two late scores in injury time to get out of jail!
Boden prepared well for this much anticipated ‘Two Tribes Go To War’ clash in this curtain raiser for the Group Of Death of the Championship draw…four of the top five teams in Division 1A of the league were pitted against each other in the round robin series with St. Vincents and near neighbours St. Judes also in the mix.
Boden started brighter and forced a couple of early frees from their first two attacks which were duly dispatched from the boot of Michael McDonald, returning from an injury lay-off which has restricted his playing time in recent weeks…No ring rust evident though as he and his midfield partner, the ever combative Alex Gavin went toe to toe with their opposite numbers.
Crokes’ opening score came after Boden had grabbed a third when a long delivery from Connell McGlynn eluded full-forward Ciaran Duggan and deceived the goalkeeper as it bounced over the bar. Boden then drew yet another foul on David Keane, who swept over the resultant free himself off his left from the right side. Up to this stage of proceedings, David Gannon at full-back and both corner backs, Conor Casey and Ronan Long had marshalled their men well and Gannon in particular was having a stormer in the heart of the Boden defence starving the much vaunted Crokes full forward of opportunities.
When Crokes halved the deficit from a good attack, it seemed to settle them and soon after they cut loose and broke through the Boden rearguard with alarming ease only forkeeper Eoin Donne to pull off a great save to deny them the games opening 3 pointer. The Crokes forwards are fleet of footand very skillful to boot and usually too hot to handle for most defences…Boden’s talented half–back line of Ronan McGowan, Ben Wolffe and Connell McGlynn had been containing their men but they were starting to find their rhythm entering the second quarter and after David Keane had scored his first from play midway through the half, they carved another opening with some slick passing and movement but once again Keeper Eoin Donne prevented what looked a certain goal…Unfortunately however, the referee decided he had done so illegally and awarded the visitors a penalty! Despite the Crokes corner forward requiring injury treatment, many present felt it was a harsh call and justice seemed to prevail when the peno was blasted wide of the target. Fate intervened however in the guise of the referee who insisted the kick be retaken and it was converted on second time of asking to level the scores! Despite Boden going in front from another David Keane free from their next attack, Crokes had the bit between their teeth following their goal and took control of proceedings for the remainder of the extended half tacking on three quick points from play and if it hadn’t been for some brilliant goalkeeping from Boden’s Donne then the half time deficit would have been greater than the two point advantage Crokes took into the break on a scoreline of 1-05 to 0-06!
On reflection at half time, the consensus among observers was that it was a half of two halves but the speed and efficiency of the Crokes attack was noted worringly ! In contrast, despite a promising opening quarter, the Boden attack was starved of possession and hadn’t created as many opportunities as the half drew to a close. Some good endeavor from Thomas Culleton and Davy Keogh early on had presented a couple of goal chances that went a begging and it was feared that they would be chances rued ultimately. The second period began as the first had ended with Crokes on the front foot and they extended their lead with a point immediately following the restart. Before Boden touched the ball again, Crokes struck a hammer blow with a well worked goal followed quickly by another point from play to open a gap of seven !
Just when it seemed Boden had stemmed the tide with a point from play through Michael McDonald, the now rampant visitors struck goaled again and added two more pointed frees as Boden struggled to contain them. The introduction of fresh legs had immediate impact with Cians Kelly and Mahon thrust into the attack and when both Evan Nugent and Reed Barry entered the fray in the final quarter, it was to prove significant in turning the tide in Boden’s favour as they began to dominate possession. David Keane reduced the arrears to ten as Boden remained defiant and after Hugh O’Sullivan nailed a 45 soon after, Boden’s resilience was rewarded when Ciaran Duggan found the net after a promising attack yielded the ultimate award.
With renewed belief, Boden set about eroding the Crokes lead and further points from the ever busy Evan Walsh, David Keane and Michael McDonald and a long range free from O’Sullivan reduced the deficit to the minimum entering injury time. When a David Keane free levelled matters in injury time to complete an astonishing comeback, it looked like if there was to be a winner, they would be wearing blue and white! However, as time ticked away, Boden would shoot themselves in the foot and two unfortunate turnovers proved fatal to their aspirations following devastating Crokes attacks to rattle the Boden net again before delivering the final shot to run out eventual victors by four points on a scoreline of 4-10 to 1-15.
Mathew Ormsby, introduced late on for the injured Michael McDonald had no time to influence matters unfortunately but all members of the squad, management and coaching staff had prepared well for this encounter and are all due huge credit for the performance on the day. No doubt much was learned by all concerned as such defeats can often be blessings in disguise and it is inevitable that better days lay ahead for this group.
This battle lost…but only just…and much to fight for yet as two will ultimately qualify from this group to contest the Quarter Finals. Boden can take much encouragement from their display, never say die attitude and extraordinary fitness and physicality to bring heaps of confidence with them into the battles that lie ahead and if they continue on this trajectory of form and retain their hunger and will to win, they will undoubtedly cross paths with their fiercest rivals again on the Championship trail…maybe in the decider ?!…and only one of these sides will relish that ! Boden Abú!
The boys will travel to the Malahide Risd on Saturday 28th September to play St Vincents on Pairc Naomh Uinsionn at 3.30pm.