ADULT HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S 3-18
NA FIANNA 1-20
By Daire Walsh
Defending champions Ballyboden St Enda’s continued their unbeaten start to the Adult Hurling League Division One season with victory over 14-man Na Fianna at Pairc Ui Murchu on Saturday evening.
Conor Dooley amassed an outstanding personal haul of 1-12, while Luke McDwyer and Kevin Desmond also found the net for Joe Fortune’s men. Despite losing corner-back Conor Kelly to an early red card, Na Fianna kept themselves in contention for large spells.
The ever-dependable Colin Currie finished with 0-4 to his name and midfielder Fergal Breathnach also stood out for the Glasnevin outfit. Nevertheless, ‘Boden ultimately used their numerical advantage to telling effect and now move two points clear at the summit of the top-tier table.
Formerly a goalkeeper on the inter-county scene, Dooley has become a permanent fixture in attack for ‘Boden. He opened the scoring with a routine second-minute free, before Na Fianna responded through Breathnach and Currie (free).
Their lead proved to be a short-lived one as McDwyer scooped to the net after Paul Doherty’s initial strike on goal had been deflected. After Currie and Dooley traded frees, the ‘Boden full-forward added his third point of the half to give the hosts a foothold on the game.
Na Fianna then suffered a significant blow in the 13th-minute when an off-the-ball incident - involving several players from both sides - led to the dismissal of Kelly. As a consequence, wing-forward Kieran Murphy was dropped into a defensive position.
Although this appeared to give ‘Boden a decisive edge, Na Fianna were determined to keep themselves in the hunt. Dooley once again found the range for the southsiders, but their cushion was subsequently wiped out moving into the second-quarter.
Supplementing Currie’s 0-3 salvo, David Murtagh split the posts to offer Na Fianna serious momentum. They received a further set-back on the stroke of 20 minutes, however - Dooley rattling the bottom left-hand corner of the net off a 30-metre free.
Aidan Mellett and Dooley enhanced their tally either side of another Currie single, only for Na Fianna to once again fire back wth a series of fine scores. Currie, Murphy and Martin Quilty raised white flags in quick succession to cut their deficit to the bare minimum (2-6 to 0-11) in time for the break.
Having lost out to ‘Boden in last year’s league decider at O’Toole Park, Na Fianna were not prepared to go down without a flight. They carried momentum into the second period and Currie’s eighth point of the contest had them back on level terms.
Indeed, there was little to separate the teams during the early moments after the restart. Dooley and wing-back David Curtin were on target for ‘Boden, but Currie and the impressive Murphy issued direct rebuttals at the opposite end.
Yet, the 35th-minute introduction of Desmond sparked fresh life into the ‘Boden challenge. Dooley immediately posted a brace of frees and after racing onto a loose ball, Desmond fired powerfully beyond the reach of Na Fianna custodian Jonathan Treacy.
Suddenly, ‘Boden were now six points in front (3-11 to 0-14) heading into the final-quarter of an intriguing clash. Back-to-back efforts from Currie got Na Fianna up and running again, until another ‘Boden replacement - James Roche - added his name to the scoresheet.
The industrious Niall McMorrow (another player in the ‘Boden line-up with vast inter-county experience under his belt) registered a point in between Currie and Breathnach contributions for Na Fianna and it continued in this vein heading towards the final whistle.
Dooley added three more points and Simon Lambert also ventured forward from centre-back to strike an excellent score on the wing. There was renewed hope for Na Fianna in stoppage-time when Donal Burke fired home to bring the gap down to three points.
Ballyboden kept their composure under pressure, though, and McDwyer hit an insurance point on 62 minutes to ensure his side got over the line.
Next up for ‘Boden is a tricky away fixture against St Brigid’s on Wednesday week (May 29). On the same evening, Na Fianna play host to Crumlin at St Mobhi Road.
Scorers - Ballyboden St Enda’s: Conor Dooley 1-12 (0-2f), Luke McDwyer 1-1, Kevin Desmond 1-0, Simon Lambert, David Curtin, Aidan Mellett, Niall McMorrow, James Roche 0-1 each. Na Fianna: Colin Currie 0-14 (13f), Donal Burke 1-0, Fergal Breathnach, Kieran Murphy 0-2 each, Martin Quilty, David Murtagh 0-1 each.
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: Gary Maguire; David O’Connor, Dean Curran; Sean McDonnell; David Curtin, Simon Lambert, Shane Durkin; Eoin O’Neill, Finn McGarry; Niall Ryan, Luke McDwyer, Paul Doherty; Aidan Mellett, Conor Dooley, Niall McMorrow. Subs: Kevin Desmond for McDwyer (35), Cian Mellett for McDonnell, James Roche for O’Neill (both 46), McDwyer for Doherty (58).
NA FIANNA: Jonathan Treacy; Sean Burke, Hugh Fenlon, Conor Kelly; Kevin Burke, Odhran Malleady, Peter Feeney; Fergal Breathnach, Martin Quilty; Eoin McHugh, Donal Burke, Kieran Murphy; Sean Currie, David Murtagh, Colin Currie. Subs: Padraig Buggy for Murtagh (46), Cathal Doran for Feeney (60).
Referee: Kevin Foran (Thomas Davis).