ADULT FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S 2-12
ST OLIVER PLUNKETT’S/EOGHAN RUADH 1-10
By Daire Walsh
Ballyboden St Enda’s regained their five-point lead at the top of the Adult Football League Division One table with an accomplished victory over St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh at Martin Savage Park on Saturday evening.
Courtesy of their 2-10 to 0-12 win at the expense of Skerries Harps last Thursday night, Kilmacud Crokes briefly closed the gap on their southside rivals. However, goals in either half from David Hayes and Darren O’Reilly ensured that ‘Boden remain unbeaten in this season’s top-flight.
Plunkett’s have been much improved in recent weeks and with Ross McConnell and Paul Brogan amassing a combined haul of 1-6, they stayed in contention throughout. They ultimately succumbed to an eight defeat of the campaign, though, and have some work to do before confirming their AFL1 status for 2019.
Despite being minus a host of star names - for a variety of reasons - ‘Boden were confident of extending their winning run in all competitions to 11 games. Plunkett’s also fielded without Dublin senior panellists Bernard Brogan and Sean Bugler, albeit Brogan’s brothers Paul and Alan were included on the inside line.
Ross McConnell and Gareth ‘Nesty’ Smith offered a great deal of experience further out the field, whereas ‘Boden were able to call upon ex-county men Darragh Nelson and Declan O’Mahoney. The visitors started with six players who featured in their 2016 All-Ireland club final success and they raced four points clear during a blistering opening.
Ciaran O’Reilly split the posts within the opening minute and this was quickly supplemented by a Mikey Dunne free. Tom Hayes increased their advantage - prior to converting a placed-ball of his own on eight minutes.
Plunkett’s deployed nominal midfielder Leigh Herron as a sweeper for much of the first half. Not only was this with a view to stifling the ‘Boden attack, but it was also hoped that the Brogans - Paul and Alan - could thrive in the open spaces at the opposite end.
It took a while for it bear fruit, although they finally got up and running thanks to unanswered frees from McConnell and Smith. ‘Boden continued to threaten as the half progressed, however, and a maiden goal arrived in the 19th-minute.
Following excellent interplay between Alan Flood and O’Mahoney, raiding wing-back David Hayes palmed to the Plunkett’s net. Although this was a set-back for the hosts, they responded in impressive fashion.
After bagging his second free of the half, McConnell released Paul Brogan for an excellent finish past ‘Boden netminder Darragh Gogan. Dunne and McConnell proceeded to trade points, only for Plunkett’s to immediately suffer a hammer blow.
Arising from an off-the-ball incident involving opposition corner-back Bob Dwan, Gerard McCormack received a straight red card. This left Plunkett's severely hamstrung and owing to Darren O’Reilly’s fisted point at a tight angle, they also trailed by two points (1-6 to 1-4) at the break.
‘Boden pulled further ahead when the action resumed - O’Mahoney registered an excellent point at the end of a patient move. In spite of their numerical deficiency, Plunkett’s were determined to dig deep on home soil.
Either side of another Hayes free, Smith and Paul Brogan found the range to keep John O’Brien’s charges in touch. Nevertheless, ‘Boden stayed in the ascendancy and delivered a big moment on the stroke of 40 minutes.
Darren O’Reilly discovered a gap through the heart of the Plunkett’s rearguard and produced a composed finish for their second goal. While not necessarily killing off the game as a contest, it left Plunkett’s with a lot of ground to cover.
Ciaran O’Reilly claimed his second point to move ‘Boden six in front, but the subsequent dismissal of Nelson on the third-quarter mark handed a potential lifeline to their Navan Road counterparts.
With Declan Lally now added to the mix, Plunkett’s responded through the prominent Smith. Whilst Dunne settled the league leaders with a fine point on the turn, Alan Brogan opened his account to keep Plunkett’s in the hunt.
Hayes ensured ‘Boden were still in driving seat with a routine free and when Smith was also red-carded seven minutes from time, it looked to be a bridge too far for Plunkett’s. To their credit, a brace of McConnell points - bringing his final tally to 0-5 - meant Ballyboden weren’t out of sight just yet.
Another Hayes single appeared to offer them an insurance, but they breathed a sigh of relief when McConnell narrowly avoided making contact with Alan Brogan’s diagonal ball in stoppage-time.
Still, ‘Boden had done enough to secure maximum points and Anthony Rainbow's outfit move forward to a home meeting against Fingallians on Wednesday week (July 17). On the same evening, Plunkett’s face Ballymun Kickhams at Pairc Ciceam.
SCORERS - Ballyboden St Enda’s: Tom Hayes 0-5 (0-4f), Darren O’Reilly 1-1, David Hayes 1-0, Mikey Dunne 0-3 (0-1f), Ciaran O’Reilly 0-2, Declan O’Mahoney 0-1. St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh: Ross McConnell 0-5 (0-4f), Paul Brogan 1-1, Gareth ‘Nesty’ Smith 0-3 (0-2f), Alan Brogan 0-1.
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: Darragh Gogan; Bob Dwan, Cian Murray, Aran Waters; David Hayes, Darragh Nelson, Sean Gibbons; Donogh McCabe, Declan O’Mahoney; Darren O’Reilly, Ciaran O’Reilly, Luke O’Donohue; Mikey Dunne, Tom Hayes, Alan Flood. Subs: Mal Codd for Flood (34), Lewis Cawley for O’Mahoney (41).
ST OLIVER PLUNKETT’S/EOGHAN RUADH: Gavin Broughan; Sean Moran, Patrick Curtin, Michael McManus; Adam Keating, Darragh Brogan, Evan Maleady; David Kelly, Leigh Herron; Gareth ‘Nesty’ Smith, Ross McConnell, Conor Bresnan; Alan Brogan, Paul Brogan, Gerard McCormack. Subs: Ciaran Meehan for P Brogan, Declan Lally for Maleady (both 41), Ian Kelly for Moran (50), Seamus Ashton for Bresnan (51).
REF: Sean McCarthy (St Vincent’s).