Ballyboden St Enda’s and Na Fianna came through tough tests at Parnell Park on Sunday to book their places in the semi-finals of the Go Ahead Dublin Senior One Hurling Championship.
Whereas ‘Boden had four points to spare (2-21 to 0-23) over Lucan Sarsfields in the day’s curtain-raiser, Na Fianna came from behind to record a 1-19 to 0-17 triumph at the expense of St Vincent’s. As a result Ballyboden will now face defending champions Kilmacud Crokes in the last-four, while Na Fianna will take on Cuala for a spot in the forthcoming showpiece decider.
Following a frustrating group stage defeat to Cuala just over a fortnight earlier, ‘Boden were eager to lay down a marker against Lucan in their quarter-final meeting. Sarsfields had secured the Go Ahead Adult Hurling League Division One title with a final victory over the Firhouse Road outfit, but this was always likely to be a different proposition.
Thanks to a brace of points from former Sky Blues hurler Paul Ryan (who was to finish the game with a personal tally of 1-8), David Curtin’s ‘Boden hit the ground running. Ryan was then on hand to cancel out a well-worked score by Lucan wing-forward Chris O’Leary, before the latter also registered back-to-back frees to bring his side on level terms.
Sarsfields had a strong wind advantage at their disposal throughout the opening period and the 2013 finalists subsequently hit the front when the Crummey brothers - Chris and Paul - split the uprights either side of a Luke McDwyer point at the opposite end. However, ‘Boden didn’t panic and opened up a sizeable gap with their first purple patch of the game inside the second-quarter.
After Conal Keaney (who turned 40 on Saturday) and Ryan posted points, Niall McMorrow pounced for a 20th-minute goal. Ryan also found the range off the resulting attack to increase the lead to six, but credit must be given to Lucan for eventually stemming this tide.
Although McMorrow and Simon Lambert (from a sideline cut) added to ‘Boden’s tally, 0-3 apiece from the impressive duo of O’Leary and Colm Walsh left the 12th Lock men just two adrift (1-10 to 0-11) at the interval.
While John Bellew cut this deficit to the bare minimum on the restart, ‘Boden reinforced their authority when Ryan buried a penalty in the 34th-minute. However, this did little to dim the appetite of Lucan, who responded with unanswered scores from Ciaran Dowling, ex-Dublin captain Johnny McCaffrey and O’Leary.
The gap remained at one after Ryan and O’Leary traded points, but ‘Boden created further daylight courtesy of fine contributions from substitute Niall Ryan and Lambert. Even though Liam Garrigan pointed to keep Lucan in touch, ‘Boden looked set to ease over the line when Paul Ryan, Aidan Mellett and Lambert found the range in quick succession.
Yet with Bellew, O’Leary (free) and Dowling all doing likewise for Lucan, this game was threatening to go down to the wire. O’Leary added a two-point salvo off placed balls before the end of proceedings to bring his final haul up to 0-12. Nevertheless, closing efforts from the outstanding McMorrow (who amassed 1-3 over the course of the proceedings) and Niall Ryan ensured ‘Boden safely advanced to the penultimate round.
In the day’s other quarter-final, Na Fianna were looking to keep their quest for a second consecutive decider appearance alive for another day at least. Vincent’s had shown in their recent group stage reversal to Kilmacud that they are more than capable of mixing it at the business end of the championship and gave as good as they got in the opening period.
Although Donal Burke (free), Hugh Fenlon and AJ Murphy all found the range for Na Fianna early on, Cian McBride, Rian McBride and James Mulcahy were also on target at the opposite end. Colin Currie did move their Glasnevin counterparts in front with an 11th-minute goal, but Vins persisted with their challenge in fine style.
Thanks to unanswered efforts from Darach McBride, Mulcahy, Oisin Lanigan and John Hetherton (who registered an outstanding haul of 3-10 in the Crokes game), the Marino men squeezed ahead on 18 minutes.
Even though Dublin hurler Burke split the uprights either side of a second point from Fenlon, it was Vincent’s who were the happier side at the interval. Courtesy of white flag contributions by Mark Sweeney, Conor Burke, Rian McBride, Brian Bolger and Hetherton, Proinsias de Poire’s charges were 0-12 to 1-6 to the good heading into the second period.
Impressively, the dozen scores accrued by Vins prior to the break were all from open play. The elements were in their favour during the opening 30 minutes, however, and Na Fianna had reason to believe they could turn the tables on their near neighbours when the action resumed.
Vins initially remained in the driving seat after the restart with a two-point salvo from Hetherton (including one free) squeezed into a busy spell that also featured a brace for Na Fianna duo Shane Barrett and Burke.
Niall Ó Ceallacháin’s men were beginning to find their feet, though, and three points on the trot from the increasingly-influential Burke and Feargal Breathnach restored their lead just past the third-quarter mark. Traded scores between Hetherton and Currie left the tie delicately poised, before Hetherton’s dismissal for a second yellow card offence on 54 minutes firmly handed the initiative to Na Fianna.
While midfielders Sweeney and Thomas Connolly did their best to keep the 14-man Vins in the hunt, their close rivals pushed on in the closing moments. Currie assumed dead-ball duties late on and knocked over three frees to supplement additional strikes by Burke and the marauding Sean Baxter.
Between them, Currie and Burke registered a combined tally of 1-12 to ensure Na Fianna progressed into the next round. No fewer than 10 Vincent’s players got their names on the scoresheet, but their search for a 14th senior hurling title will continue into 2023.
Meanwhile, St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh and St Brigid’s retained their Dublin Senior One Hurling Championship status for next year’s with dramatic relegation play-off victories at O’Toole Park on Sunday.
After the sides were left inseparable at the end of extra-time (2-23 apiece), Plunkett’s ultimately claimed a 6-5 penalty shootout win at the Kimmage venue. It was nip and tuck for much of the clash between Brigid’s and St Jude’s, but the former eventually came away with a 1-17 to 1-16 triumph.
Photo Credit: Clíona Mellett