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Boden boss on verge of a fifth consecutive Dublin SHC title

THE BODEN boys haven't even mentioned the five-in-a-row as the countdown continues to Sunday's Evening Herald Dublin Senior Hurling Championship final against O'Toole's.

The boss-man, Liam Hogan, sets the mood. "Five is the number after four and preceding six. Other than that, it bears no significance for us at all," insists Liam.

Records are for the stats men says Liam, as Boden bid to become the first club in over 80 years to achieve the Dublin hurling five-in-a-row.

They have been too long on the road to be wasting their energy pondering history. The prospect of facing the Larriers (Sunday, Parnell Park, 3.45) is enough to concentrate the mind.

The champions have served a long apprenticeship. And it has taught them well.

They are like the entertainer who the critics describe as being an overnight sensation, only to discover that he has been toiling away in the working men's clubs for the past 20 years.

Liam played hurling for Offaly.

He grew up in Coolderry, which is on the Tipperary border. Coolderry won the Offaly SHC for the 29th time this season. They have won more titles than any other club in the county.

Hurling is in Liam's fabric. He is never afraid to express strong views. The welfare of the sport is his bottom line.

He has been with Ballyboden since 1997. He managed at underage level before getting the big gig in 2006.

That season, Boden reached the county final, where they were pipped by their old foes, Craobh Chiaráin.

Back in 2001, 'Boden, managed by Noel Sheridan, also lost to the Craobh in the final. The Dublin hurling manager, Kevin Fennelly, saw a cracking tussle. The present Dublin selector, Ciarán Hetherton, scored a point for Chiarain's.

Two years later, 'Boden fell to the Craobh again, this time in the quarter-final, and in 2004 they were back in the final where they lost to UCD. Paudie O'Neill was managing 'Boden at the time.

And the next season, UCD, again managed by 'Babs' Keating, knocked out 'Boden in the semi-final.

So a lot of disappointment had flowed under the Firhouse Road before 'Boden eventually made the breakthrough to lift their first Dublin Senior Hurling title in 2007, when they defeated St Vincent's under the Parnell Park lights.

So it's perfectly understandable why the holders are so good at keeping their feet on the ground and two hands on the hurl.

Stalwarts like Darragh Spain, Dave Sweeney, David Curtin, Emmet Carroll, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney (the last two are currently recovering from knee operations) have endured the hardships of those defeats stretching back 10 years. The side's graduation has seen them develop into the best team in the county.

But it's not 'Boden that say that, it's other people.

With 'Boden, it's always the next game, the next step. This term they have been without the injured Hiney and Keaney, but, just like the five-in-a-row, nobody at Páirc Uí Mhurchú is dwelling on that. Hogan knows that the only talking that counts willconcern the spin they can put on the sliotar in the Donnycarney theatre on Sunday.

Boden and O'Toole's always produce lively debates. And Liam suggests that this one will be no different.

"O'Toole's will be a big test for us," states Liam. "They have not won all those championships for nothing.

"They have a deep tradition there.

"Their manager, Joey Morris, is a good hurling man.

"He has good people with him on the management. They have given a lot to hurling.

"The Cartons, Michael and Peadar, are playing superb hurling at the moment. The Cartons have been brilliant hurlers all these years. They are great hurling ambassadors for Dublin.

"I think it could be a cracking game. They had terrific wins over Crokes and St Brigid's, so we know we'll be up against it. I just hope there's a big crowd there to see it. Sometimes the attendances at the Dublin finals haven't been great, and you'd wonder why.

"The Dublin county hurling final is always a big occasion, and the more promotion it gets the better."

In the meantime, 'Boden, as always, will quietly work away at perfecting their craft. And even when they do take a little breather from the sessions, the last words Liam Hogan will be uttering to the squad will be to "take five".