ADULT HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE FINAL
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S 1-14 NA FIANNA 1-10
By Daire Walsh
Dublin senior footballer Colm Basquel bagged a first-half goal at O’Toole Park on Sunday morning to help Ballyboden St Enda’s retain their Adult Hurling League Division One title.
This completes an impressive double for Joe Fortune’s men in 2018, following their success over southside rivals Kilmacud Crokes in October’s county final replay in Parnell Park. They subsequently progressed to a provincial decider against Ballyhale Shamrocks last Sunday, which ultimately ended in defeat for ‘Boden.
Yet, despite encountering a stubborn resistance from a 14-man Na Fianna, the Pairc Ui Murchu side got the job done in their final game of the year. While Basquel’s 18th-minute finish offered ‘Boden significant breathing space throughout, Paul Ryan’s five-point haul off the bench was also a crucial factor in keeping their Glasnevin counterparts at bay.
After securing the top-tier crown at the expense of St Brigid’s 12 months ago, ‘Boden safely advanced to another showpiece with 11 wins and one defeat to their name in the current campaign.
Their sole reversal came at the hands of Na Fianna on May 30, when their well-drilled opponents had five points to spare (3-13 to 2-11) at St Mobhi Road. Even though they had the occasional slip-up in the round robin phase of the competition, the northsiders were full value for a spot in this showdown.
In comparison to ‘Boden, who had to work their way through a hectic schedule in recent weeks, Na Fianna were perhaps short of competitive match practice in the build-up to this tie.
They were also facing into a stiff breeze during the opening period and didn’t open their account until the 14th-minute of the play. ‘Boden had hit the ground running prior to that, recording five points on the bounce to give themselves a commanding cushion.
With Conal Keaney playing a roving role around the middle-third, Basquel and Aidan Mellett were left inside as a two-man full-forward line. Adding to Paul Doherty’s deadlock-breaking score, the elusive Basquel split the posts at a right-hand angle to offer his side early leeway.
Doherty added a free after Basquel had been fouled by full-back Ciaran Fanning and also contributed a neat point on the right-wing nine minutes in. Centre-back Simon Lambert stepped forward to bolster ‘Boden’s tally, before Na Fianna finally responded with a Gavin King free.
The gifted midfielder was one of Na Fianna’s finest performers on the day and his outstanding sideline cut inside the second-quarter provided their travelling supporters with a great deal of encouragement.
There was no sign of panic within the ‘Boden ranks, however, and they rattled the back of Jonathan Treacy's net to stretch themselves into a six-point cushion. Keaney’s long delivery up the left-flank was gathered superbly by Mellett, who released the waiting Basquel for a clinical flick home.
At the end of a 10-minute barren spell for both sides, ‘Boden midfielder Shane Durkin added a long-distance special. Na Fianna did gain some degree of solace in the shape of King (free) and Donal Burke points, but they remained five points in arrears (1-6 to 0-4) during the break.
It has been a collective squad effort for Ballyboden in the past year and this was epitomised by the introduction of Conor McCormack and Ryan either side of the interval. Both man have a vast degree of inter-county experience, having played major roles in Dublin’s Leinster SHC triumph of 2013.
Mere seconds after his introduction as a 33rd-minute substitute, Ryan converted a free on the left-hand touchline. Durkin’s second of the day followed, though Na Fianna weren’t prepared to give up the ghost just yet.
Corner-back Conor Kelly broke up the field to hit an excellent point on the run and King nailed another sideline to keep them in touch. A simple Ryan free settled ‘Boden back into their stride, though, and Na Fianna suffered a hammer blow soon after - central attacker Tomas Watters receiving his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident involving his direct marker Dean Curran.
Although Ryan’s third point increased the gap moving into the final-quarter, Na Fianna dealt admirably with their numerical deficiency. King knocked over a brace of frees - including one from his own 65-metre line.
David O’Connor and replacement James Roche responded in kind for ‘Boden, only for their gutsy opponents to give themselves a potential lifeline on 58 minutes.
Treacy stepped off his line to size up a goal-scoring opportunity at the far end. Via a deflection, he fired past Gary Maguire to cut the deficit down to four. Another inspirational Kelly single kept ‘Boden on tenterhooks, but this is when Ryan displayed his true class once again.
His ‘over the shoulder’ strike was safely slotted between the uprights in stoppage-time and he also found the target via a resulting attack. Treacy tried his luck off another close-range set-piece, but Maguire was able to divert his shot over the crossbar on this occasion.
Na Fianna were searching for their maiden Division One crown and their quest for a groundbreaking victory will continue into next season, as Ballyboden held out in a frantic conclusion.
Scorers - Ballyboden St Enda’s: Paul Ryan 0-5 (3f), Colm Basquel 1-1, Paul Doherty 0-3 (1f), Shane Durkin 0-2, David O’Connor, Simon Lambert, James Roche 0-1 each. Na Fianna: Gavin King 0-6 (4f, 2 s/line), Jonathan Treacy 1-1 (1-1f), Conor Kelly 0-2, Donal Burke 0-1.
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: Gary Maguire; David O’Connor, Dean Curran, Luke Corcoran; James Madden, Simon Lambert, Stephen O’Connor; Shane Durkin, Niall McMorrow; Conor Dooley, Paul Doherty, Niall Ryan; Conal Keaney, Colm Basquel, Aidan Mellett. Subs: Conor McCormack for Doherty (26), Paul Ryan for Dooley (33), Collie O’Neill for Mellett (44), Finn McGarry for Curran (44, blood), James Roche for Keaney (50), Eoin O’Neill for Basquel (56).
NA FIANNA: Jonathan Treacy; Conor Kelly, Ciaran Fanning, Shane Barrett; Padraig Buggy, Peter Feeney, Sean Burke; Fergal Breathnach, Gavin King; Seamie O’Sullivan, Eoghan McHugh, Donal Burke; Conor McHugh, Tomas Watters, Odhran Malleady. Subs: Martin Quilty for O’Sullivan (43), Dara Malleady for Breathnach (46).
Referee: Dave Aston (Naomh Mearnog).