herald

Friday 9 December 2016

andy lights up Theatre Royal

Boden boss hails the quality of Dublin football

IT'S a summer's night in Rathfarnham.

The time of the year when the birds get to enjoy extra-time and penalties.

The Boden Boys are hard at work in Páirc Uí Mhurchú.

It's a tidy stadium. Dressing-rooms, clubhouse, Ball Wall, Press Box, car-park and sponsorship signs surrounding the pitch.

Danny Griffin is the Boden Sponsorship Manager. He has lived in London. He knows well the stature of the Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall.

But his favourite theatre has always been Páirc Uí Mhurchú.

What a good place to be when the match is tight, and the clock is ticking fast.

The atmosphere lifts on the breeze and whistles down the Firhouse Road.

MIDDLE

Boden senior football manager Andy McEntee is in the middle of the players. It's another training session.

He's conducted a few by now. He first arrived in January, 2014.

He followed an All-Ireland winner, champion golfer, and sharp pundit, Conor Deegan.

Andy quickly grew fond of the scenery . . . and the people.

He enjoyed their easy charm, and the banter.

Sometimes, the chat would head for Meath. Andy played with the county, was a senior selector there, and he was also their minor manager.

His brother, Royal legend Gerry, was a central figure in the best days of all. The Boylan Bible.

The era when the soft-spoken gent of Dunboyne had those tough Meath men eating every word he said.

Seán didn't seem to have to say much. The players just adored him. If he asked them to jump in Dalgan Park, they'd be trying to tip the sky.

How Andy would love to see a Royal renaissance. But, sadly, there's no sign of that for the moment.

Instead, it's the Dubs who are the undisputed Kings of the Province.

"Dublin are just so strong. They have the strength in depth," says Andy.

"It was hard to see them being stopped in Leinster. And it will be very difficult to beat them in the All-Ireland series as well.

"They have so many quality players. Far more than anybody else.

"And if you were a betting man, you'd have to say that Dublin will go a long way again."

Boden went close enough themselves to the big one last term - the semi-final of the Dublin Senior Football Championship.

And they also reached the last four the previous year. The Marino men beat them on both occasions.

Boden have won the Clery Cup twice - in 1995 and in 2009.

This season they beat Naomh Maur in the first round and then drew the mighty Kilmacud Crokes.

That game was scheduled for last month, but was called off due to the hurling replay between Dublin and Galway. Now, both sides have had the summer to think about a match that will stop the presses.

It's a clash that would have done justice to the final itself.

In the 2009 semi-final, Boden and Crokes had to meet three times before Boden prevailed after extra-time.

On the day last October when Vincent's beat Boden for a place in the final, Diarmuid Connolly had the whole world in his hands. And his feet too.

He produced a Donnycarney master-class.

And he wasn't short of willing lieutenants.

"We gave Vins a run for it. We lost by seven points in the end. That was unfair on our fellas, who had put in such an effort, and had made a game of it.

"But the bottom line is that we just weren't good enough on the day to beat a team like St Vincent's.

"Vincent's are such a super side. And they have such good players to bring off the bench.

"But we'll keep working away, and we know that we have to strive to do a bit better this time." Boden will have to be at their best to beat Crokes. Likewise, Crokes.

On landing in the city, Andy quickly learned that any victory in Dublin football doesn't come easily.

"Dublin football is just so competitive. And that's every game, no matter what the competition.

"If you turn up to any match with your bad face on, you are going to get beaten.

"All the league games are so well contested. You never get anything cheap.

"And the Dublin Championship is just first-class. I'd say there are about half a dozen clubs who are capable of winning the All-Ireland."

Getting out of the county is the first trick. And often the hardest.

Crokes, Vincent's and Ballymun have represented Dublin so well in recent years.

And they are all up there at the summit of Division 1. Crokes top the table, and Na Fianna and Boden are also well in the mix.

Boden have a cluster of bright young players. And solid experience too.

Darragh Nelson is the skipper. Declan O'Mahony is very much a midfield master.

VALUABLE

Robbie McDaid, Andrew Kerin, Sam Molony and Ryan Basquel are others who have been making valuable donations.

But as the players head to the shower following training, the sweat on everybody's brow says very much it's a team game.

And that goes for off the pitch as well.

Trubake are sponsoring the senior footballers. Frank Basquel owns the Rathmines bakery. Andy appreciates the gesture.

"Money is tight everywhere. People do it out of the goodness of their hearts.

"It's hard to measure the return a business gets from sponsorship. But without sponsorship, clubs would really struggle."

In Andy's eyes, such commitment is priceless. That's what instils spirit.

And as he goes for his post-training cup of tea, and, no doubt, more quips about the Royals, the scent of Páirc Uí Mhurchú is as appealing to him as a crusty loaf from the Trubake oven.

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