'BODEN bid to bring title home
St Enda's fend off Civil Service challenge to make AHL 6 final
Ballyboden St Enda's...........2-11
Ballyboden St Enda's guaranteed home advantage for the AHL Division 6 final after they won a highly entertaining clash with Civil Service at Islandbridge on Sunday morning.
Both teams came in on the back of differing results from the midweek championship games, Civil Service getting relegated from the Junior 'A' division while Ballyboden qualified for the semi-final.
But the home side showed no ill effects from that disappointment as they fought tooth and nail until the death, and made the runaway leaders of the division sweat for the 60 minutes.
It was the winners who made the brightest start and quickly registered 1-1.
Brian Cummins slotted a free inside the opening two minutes that was quickly followed up by a goal from Cian O'Neill, who profited from a neat flick on by Danny Sullivan. Service responded thanks to a free from their chief marksman David Shinnors but a further two points from Sullivan and midfielder Brian Keary put 'Boden firmly in control.
But to their credit, Civil Service, who were missing a number of first team players, regrouped to fire the next three points, all thanks to the deadball expertise of Shinnors.
Man-of-the-match Cummins however, looked menacing every time he got the ball, and his powerful run almost set up a goal but for the intervention of the superb Adrian Moran. The loose ball did fall kindly for Sullivan, thought, and he duly tapped over from close range to restore a three point cushion.
At this point, however, the Civil Service midfield pairing of EJ Delaney and Ger Hawkin were dominating and they ensured a plentiful supply of ball to their attack.
Wing forward duo Chris Doyle and Anthony Cloher benefited just before the break with a point apiece, to leave them trailing by the minimum at half-time, 0-6 to 1-4.
Full forward Conor Bracken equalised almost immediately after the break with a fine score from way out on the touchline. Keary responded to put 'Boden back in front but then arrived the turning point of the game.
Civil Service number 11 Rob Griffin was fouled as he was about to unleash a shot on goal resulting in a penalty. Shinnors stood up and struck the ball well, by saw his shot brilliantly stopped by Keith Robinson.
In the following passage of play, Boden raced up field and Sullivan finished off a rapid counter attack with a well-taken point. It prompted a run of 1-4 without reply for the Firhouse men, and it proved to be the winning of the tie.
Cummins goal was a joy to behold. Picking the ball up at midfield, he burst through the defence before sending an unstoppable shot to the net from all of 30 metres.
He quickly followed this with a brace of points, one from a free, while Sullivan added another to his own personal tally.
The Service were thrown another lifeline when Bracken profited from the tireless work of Hawkin to goal and leave five between them with with five minutes remaining.
But Boden were not to be outdone, and further points from Cummins and Jack Keating both split the posts in the closing stages to ensure they stretched their unbeaten record to 10 games, and confirm their status as the number one team in AHL Six.