The Long Fella Reports from PUM
Saturdays follow Sundays at this time of the year with a whole programme of championship semi-finals and finals. Leaving the excitement of the excellent senior football win to one side, a modest attendance graced the rail on a blustery Saturday afternoon at HQ on the Firhouse Road. A ‘slicer ‘of a low wind cut its way from the dressing room into the score-board corner for this semi-final of the under 21 championship. Our Mobhi Road visitors fielded a well drilled and physically stronger side festooned with Minor and Under 21 Hurling Championship medallists and they were intent on reaching their fourth final (at this grade) in a row, the last three titles of which they bagged at the expense of Boden, Crokes and Vincents.
Boden won the coin-toss and elected to play with the gale in the hope of stealing a march on their opponents. However it was the visitors who led the charge and within a fifteen minute spell of relentless pressure they chalked up the three goals that ultimately decided the result. The opening minutes may have provided some confidence for Boden after Kevin Desmond and Aiden Mellett had pointed after good work outfield from Luke McDwyer and Karl Reddy. But Na Fianna Raided down the centre through their centre-back Donal Ryan and he found Sean Currie who dispatched the ball over the black spot. Three goal hero from the quarter final Ciaran Cashman landed a score from wide on the rail side to give Boden a two point lead. Then the goals came in quick succession from Peter Feeney and a brace from Eoin O’Dea. In between Donal Burke added a quality team score to give his side a lead of eight and the game was only fifteen minutes old.
Boden’s Shane Kennedy stopped the rot with a pointed free after Mellett was fouled. Currie and Kennedy exchanged points and Na Fianna’s Stacey added to his team’s tally to effectively put the challenge up to Boden. ‘Not so easy’ was the Boden response, and a fight-back was launched off the back of good ball-winning along the half-forward line. McDwyer pointed and was quickly followed by Boden’s best player on the day Aiden Mellett. More points came from Kennedy and again Mellett, before Conor Barton arrowed his square pass to the grasp of Mellett. He danced through the cover and goaled out of the reach of the Na Fianna custodian. By the half Boden were only a point in deficit, 1.10 to 3.05.
The second half had little of the excitement of the opening half and defences seemed to be getting to grips with the runners. Boden’s problem lay in how to place low ball-passes into space to mitigate the effects of the strengthening gale. Na Fianna ground out the points they needed in a gradual erosion of Boden’s resolve. After a quarter, the visitors had notched points from Currie (65), Aodhan Buggy, Seafra Fitzgerald and Patrick Skelly. In response Boden were largely dependent on Kennedy from frees and Mellett from play. The relentless pressure on the Boden rear-guard told in the last quarter and Currie showed his class with two fine points and a host of good interventions on the Boden play. Another on the visitors to show well at this late stage was John Tierney and his point after a period of Na Fianna control emphasised the gulf in ability between the sides. Mellett had two decent goal chances but on both occasions his charge was halted by what may have been seen as ‘one for the team’ upendings by nervous Na Fianna defenders.
Na Fianna were well worth their win and surely will be the favourites to complete a four-in-a-row series of championship wins. The question on many lips of the assembled support was as to when this series of under-age titles would result in the coveted senior county win.
Boden squad; Aiden Mellett, Ben Kelly, Ciaran Cashman, Cillian Kirwan, Conor Barton, Conor O’Donoghue, Daniel Nugent, Daniel O’Riordan, Joe McGrath, Jonathan O’Donoghue, Karl Reddy, Karl Weldon, Kevin Desmond, Kevin Lalor, Luke Basquel, Luke Corcoran, Luke McDwyer, Rob Donoghue, Ronan Wallace, Ruairi Hestor, Ruairi MacMahuna, Sean Gorman, Shane Kennedy, Matthew Nolan.