ADULT HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S 2-17
CRAOBH CHIARAIN 3-13
By Daire Walsh
Conor Dooley’s dramatic stoppage-time free helped champions Ballyboden St Enda’s to edge past the challenge of Craobh Chiarain in a tension-filled Adult Hurling League Division One clash at Pairc Ui Murchu on Saturday evening.
Already in pole position at the summit of the table, Cuala’s defeat to Kilmacud Crokes last Thursday opened the door for ‘Boden to move four points clear of the chasing pack. Despite goals in each half courtesy of Aidan Mellett, they struggled to shake off a stubborn Craobh Chiarain outfit.
The Clonshaugh men looked set to earn a share of the spoils, until Dooley posted his seventh point of the contest in the 65th-minute. This results ensures Joe Fortune’s charges remain unbeaten in the league - with just three rounds of fixtures left to play.
While they fielded without a host of inter-county stars, ‘Boden were able to call on experienced figures in virtually every line of the pitch. 2011 All-Star Gary Maguire was selected between the sticks, with David O’Connor, Simon Lambert and Shane Durkin offering considerable protection in defence.
Dooley (who has also donned the number one jersey for Dublin in the past) was named alongside Paul Doherty and James Roche on the ’40’, whereas Niall McMorrow combined effectively with Mellett on the inside line.
Playing in baking hot conditions on the Firhouse Road, it was the home team who opened the scoring through a routine Dooley free. Craobh had registered three consecutive wides during the early exchanges, before Cian Derwin (scorer-in-chief for the Dublin U20s in Parnell Park against Offaly three days earlier) converted a place-ball effort of his own.
Another Sky Blues underage prospect - Billy Ryan - proceeded to cancel out a Finn McGarry point for ‘Boden. The holders finally created some daylight thanks to scores by Dooley and Roche and despite Derwin’s initial response, they subsequently pulled six points in front.
Following Roche’s precise pass, Mellett fired past Craobh custodian Stephen Chester with style and aplomb. Doherty and Niall Ryan swiftly added to their tally, making it a very productive opening-quarter for ‘Boden.
Craobh came into this match with four wins under their belt, though, and were prepared to make their southside rivals work for the two points on offer. After Ken Wigglesworth upended Ciaran McGowran inside the square, Alan McCrabbe - an All Star winner all of 10 years ago - dispatched the resulting penalty beyond Maguire’s reach.
A McCrabbe single brought them a step closer to ‘Boden, but the league pace-setters re-established their supremacy with unanswered Durkin and Dooley points.
Yet with Derek O’Reilly and Derwin finding the target either side of Dooley’s second from play, Craobh remained in touch. A superb Roche effort kept ‘Boden in the driving seat, only for Craobh to ruthlessly cancel out their advantage.
Billy Ryan clinically grabbed their second goal on the half-hour mark and a long-distance Derwin free meant they were back on level terms (2-7 to 1-10) at the break. Both sides opted for defensive reinforcements when the action resumed - Stephen O’Connor joined the ‘Boden rearguard, while Stephen McDonald was introduced at the opposing end.
It was the hosts who enjoyed the brighter start to the second period as Dooley and McMorrow split the posts in quick succession. They held onto a two-point cushion after Dooley (free) and Billy Ryan traded scores, although Craobh once again restored parity with Derwin and Robert Mahon strikes.
‘Boden never lost their cutting edge in attack and they made a big push for a seventh league win on the third-quarter mark. Substitute Luke McDwyer announced his arrival with a stunning point at a tight-angle and another outstanding individual major for Mellett gave them additional breathing space.
The mental resolve of Craobh was once more on display, however. McCrabbe joined Mellett in bagging a brace of goals and midfield partner Conor Ryan followed up with a point.
Once the finishing post came into the view, the play became far more tentative. Niall Ryan and McMorrow squeezed ‘Boden ahead and they held onto their slender 2-16 to 3-11 cushion on the hour.
Five minutes of stoppage-time left the door open for Craobh and Derwin’s 0-2 salvo placed ‘Boden on the brink of a second draw in this campaign. A foul on Mellett presented them with an opportunity to snatch victory at the death, though, and a nerveless Dooley duly obliged.
Craobh had a final chance to salvage a positive result, but they ultimately fell short in their quest for an equaliser. The northsiders will seek a return to winning ways when they welcome Crumlin to Clonshaugh on Wednesday week (July 10).
Ballyboden pay a visit to neighbours St Jude’s on the same night.
Scorers - Ballyboden St Enda’s: Conor Dooley 0-7 (4f), Aidan Mellett 2-0, Niall Ryan, Niall McMorrow, James Roche 0-2 each, Shane Durkin, Finn McGarry, Paul Doherty, Luke McDwyer 0-1 each.Craobh Chiarain: Cian Derwin 0-7 (6f, 1 ’65’), Alan McCrabbe 2-1 (1-0 pen), Billy Ryan 1-2, Derek O’Reilly, Conor Ryan, Robert Mahon 0-1 each.
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: Gary Maguire; David O’Connor, Dean Curran, Ken Wigglesworth; Adam Jermyn, Simon Lambert, Shane Durkin; Finn McGarry, Niall Ryan; Conor Dooley, Paul Doherty, James Roche; Niall McMorrow, Aidan Mellett, Finn McDonagh. Subs: Stephen O’Connor for Wigglesworth (half-time), Luke McDwyer for McDonagh (34), Eoghan O’Neill for Doherty (47), Sean McDonnell for McGarry (51), Conor McKeown for Roche (58).
CRAOBH CHIARAIN: Stephen Chester; Damian O’Reilly, Eugene Farrell, Gary Kelly; Derek O’Reilly, Kevin Hetherton, Stephen O’Brien; Conor Ryan, Alan McCrabbe; Paul Kelly, Robert Mahon, Cian Derwin; Francis Usanga, Ciaran McGowran, Billy Ryan. Subs: Stephen McDonald for Derek O’Reilly (half-time), James Finn for P Kelly (44), Stephen Kelly for McGowran (53).
Referee: Paul Faughnan (St Patrick’s, Palmerstown).