Result: 2 17 to 2 14
Under 21 Championship Final
Na Fianna 2 17 BBSE 2 14
Ballyboden St Endas U21 hurlers lined out against Na Fianna in a sunny but cold O’Toole Park on Saturday 25th November in the final of the 2017 A championship.
The opening exchanges were well-contested with Boden leading by the odd point in seven after ten minutes. Conor Kennedy, Kevin Desmond and Aidan Mellett raised white flags in that time and the sizeable crowd knew this contest would probably go right to the finish. Na Fianna had the benefit of the wind and the low sun in the first half and their puckouts were sent long to reach their sizeable full-forward line. However, Luke Corcoran at full-back ably assisted by Sean McDonnell and James Holland won their share of these and sent the ball back upfield. Holland covered the half-back line well during that first quarter as well. Conor Kennedy and Ruari Kirwan were working hard on the half-forward line and drew some frees. These were well converted into the breeze by Conor O’Donoghue and Shane Kennedy. Na Fianna, however, had their best spell around the 20-minute mark and scored 1-4 without reply. Boden showed great character though led by Luke Maguire and Rob Leddy in midfield and Kevin Lalor in defence, who all won puckouts and turnover ball and blocked well to keep giving the forwards a platform. When a close-in ball broke for Aiden Mellett, he made no mistake to drive a low ball to the net. Half-time Na Fianna 1-9 Ballyboden St Endas 1-8.
A Desmond point started proceedings in the second half. However, Na Fianna, having made some positional switches, scored the next four to give them a four-point lead. Karl Weldon, Sean McDonnell, Cian Mellett and Lalor all won good turnover ball and brought Boden back into the contest. Conor O’Donoghue landed a 65 on the fifteen minute mark to bring the difference to three. Frees were then traded after which Boden pressed forward again. The full-forward line had retreated to leave some space inside and when Aidan Mellett saw his chance, he raced forward. A cavalry of yellow & blue defenders caught up with him but in halting the speedy corner-forward, conceded a penalty. Calmly, Conor O’Donoghue moved into position, worked out his distances and with the crowd holding its breath, drove a magnificent ball out of reach of the keeper. Boden were now a point ahead with seven minutes to go. Given the tension of the occasion, it is not surprising further points were scored from frees and Na Fianna equalised, Conor scored another and Na Fianna equalised again. With the match entering the closing minute, a ball broke in the Boden goalmouth. From a cluster of players, some on the ground, a Na Fianna forward managed to get in a shot and the ball nestled in the net. The umpires deliberated and the referee hesitated. Having consulted, he allowed the score. Na Fianna a goal ahead with time almost up. Despite valiant efforts, Boden could not quite break through and the final whistle cut through the cold winter air. Final Score : Boden 2-14 Na Fianna 2-17
Well done to the management – Curtin, Keaney & McCormack – on a fine campaign and to the players for showing great resolve, workrate and character in their efforts throughout. The team was applauded from the field by the Boden support present. 2018 is not far away.