Dublin Senior ‘A’ Hurling Championship Final
By Darragh Twomey in Parnell Park
As Johnny McCaffrey sat on his hunkers in the centre of the floodlit Parnell Park pitch this afternoon, he watched his Dublin team-mate Conal Keaney lift the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship title on behalf of a star studded Ballyboden team.
Ballyboden are all too familiar with this setting; the three point win sent the cup back to Rathfarnam for the sixth time in seven years.
Lucan however, were contesting a first Senior Hurling Championship final in their 127 year history, and the lack of experience showed.
The sides were level on three occasions in the opening third of the game, with Lucan taking the lead on three occasions, but Ballyboden were never more than a puck of the ball behind the men for the 12th Lock.
Ballyboden ended the game with fourteen men after Maurice Nagle’s 47th minute dismissal for a second bookable offence.
Lucan didn’t seem to know what to do with the extra man, as they scored only one point in the thirteen minute spell for which they had the numeric advantage.
Lucan’s Kevin O’Reilly was immense throughout, scoring 0-4 from play. Only one other Lucan player managed a score from play, and that was the midfield maestro McCaffrey.
That stat sums up the position which Lucan took in the game, bravely hanging on to any hope of a win from the word go.
Conal Keaney was as clinical as ever for Ballyboden, and it was his 3rd minute point in front of the stand which levelled the game for the first time.
Paul Ryan added a point from a free two minutes later, but a brace of O’Reilly points into the golf club end of the ground gave Lucan some well needed confidence.
Niall McMorrow levelled the game for the second time in the 12th minute when he picked up a loose ball forty-five yards out and slotted it neatly between the posts.
O’Reilly responded by slotting over a free, but Ryan was shooting well at the opposite end and he converted two placed balls before the 20th minute.
Some brilliant blocking by the Lucan duo of John Bellew and Trevor Lee led to another O’Reilly point to make it level for the third and final time.
A hat-trick of Ballyboden points courtesy of McMorrow, Ryan, and pick of the bunch, corner-back Stephen O’Connor’s darting run and long-range point gave them a 0-8 to 0-5 lead at the break.
Lucan started the second half brilliantly with both O’Reilly and Somers converting a free each from the left and right wings respectively to reduce the deficit to a single point.
Nagle worked well on the wing to help and assist a Shane Durkin point in the 35th minute.
A moment of sheer class followed at the Donnycarney church end of ‘The Nell’. O’Reilly got hold of the ball on the left wing and broke the tackles of three Ballyboden defenders. Having used the regulatory two catches, O’Reilly continued to solo down the wing before flicking the ball up and hammering it over the bar from a tight angle.
Keaney struck back for Ballyboden seconds later, and another Ryan free followed two make it a two point game.
The outstanding McCaffrey –whose younger brother Matt was as solid as ever at corner back- scored a massive point for Lucan midway through the half.
That point was immediately followed by the sending off of Nagle, which could, and probably should have been a major turning point in the game.
But as the score-line suggests, Lucan didn’t use the spare man to their advantage, not to take anything away from Ballyboden who saw the game out brilliantly.
With nine minutes remaining, Ballyboden centre-forward David Curtin scored a point over his left shoulder, which was brilliantly assisted by Keaney.
Ryan pointed another free for the champions two minutes later to stretch their lead to four points.
As Lucan searched endlessly for a few scores which were as rare as hens teeth in the latter stages of the game, substitute Eoghan O’Conghaile won a free when he was pulled down twenty-five yards out from the goal, and O’Reilly popped it over the bar with ease.
Lucan began to land a few high balls into the goal-mouth where big-men Chris Crummey and Kevin Fitzgerald waited with their hands in the air, but as the clock crept past the hour it was Ballyboden who held possession of the ball, and referee James Brennan’s full-time whistle was met with scenes of both agony and ecstasy.
For Ballyboden, it’s yet another Championship winner’s medal in the back pocket and a trip to Carlow next Sunday (17th November) to contest a Leinster SHC semi-final with Mount Leinster Ranger at 2.30 pm.
On the other hand, it’s well needed experience for an up and coming Lucan side with an average age of just over 24 years-old. With All-Star Peter Kelly and Dublin captain Johnny McCaffrey leading the way, they will be back.
Scorers & Teams:
Lucan Sarsfields: J McCaffrey 0-1; T Somers (0-2f); K O’Reilly 0-7 (3f).
Ballyboden St.Enda’s: S O’Connor 0-1; S Durkin 0-1; N McMorrow 0-2; C Keaney 0-2; D Curtin 0-1; P Ryan 0-6 (5f).
Lucan Sarsfields: David Quinn; John Bellew, Peter Kelly, Matt McCaffrey; Barry Aird, Rob Lambert, Tommy Somers; Johnny McCaffrey, Joey Byrne; Trevor Lee, Chris Crummey, Sean McClelland; Aidan Roche, Kevin Fitzgerald, Kevin O’Reilly. Subs: Mick May for J Byrne (27’); Eoghan O’Conghaile for S McClelland (52’); Cronan Dooley for J Bellew (53’).
Ballyboden St.Enda’s: Gary Maguire; Malachy Travers, Dean Curran, Stephen O’Connor; Conor Robinson, Stephen Hiney, Shane Durkin; Peter Buckeridge, Niall McMorrow; Conal Keaney, David Curtin, Maurice Nagle; Finn McGarry, Conor McCormack, Paul Ryan. Subs: Dave Sweeney for P Buckeridge (43’); Gavin Corrigan for C McCormack (57’).
Referee: James Brennan (Thomas Davis)