Boden boys clip cuala
Potent mix of youth and experience helps Enda's reach final
Ballyboden St Enda's advanced to the final of the Dublin Junior Hurling Championship following their well-deserved 3-15 to 2-14 victory over Cuala in their entertaining semi-final clash in Shanganagh Park last Saturday teatime.
The visitors assumed complete control of the match in the second half as they restricted their opponents to few genuine scoring chances, dominating the breaking ball throughout a peerless display after the break.
The power and experience of St Enda's proved telling against a more youthful home side with Boden's solidity reflected down the spine of their team in the displays of Johnny McCormack, Darren Lennox, Collie Durkin and Mick Griffin (pictured).
Griffin's excellence from placed balls was another feature of the visitors' performance as he punished increasing ill-discipline in the Cuala ranks to confirm his team's progression to the final.
That such an eventuality would occur seemed likely as Cuala exerted a more compelling argument in the opening half, albeit benefiting from a healthy enough breeze in their favour.
Despite falling behind to the first of Griffin's nine frees over the hour, the hosts looked far sharper initially and they levelled matters in the second minute thanks to a classy score by wing-forward Shane Murphy.
Points were traded through Lorcan Mullaney and Seán Dowling as the half developed but after two successive points by Dara Twomey and Eoghan Breathnach, Cuala opened up a sizeable lead in the 15th minute as Murphy fired home following Cillian Sheanon's clever pass.
Twomey added a point immediately but crucially, St Enda's added a goal of their own in the 17th minute when Niall O'Neill availed of a defensive error to fire home from close range.
Despite Twomey and Jake Malone adding frees to restore their side's five-point lead, another defensive slip-up saw Durkin afforded too much space to rocket a shot past the helpless Stephen Butler three minutes before the break.
There was further disappointment for the hosts in injury time as Malone, whose driving run instigated the penalty decision, saw his resultant effort blocked on the line by McCormack, ensuring Ballyboden trailed by just 1-11 to 2-5 at the break.
Durkin and Twomey exchanged points upon the resumption but the signs of St Enda's dominance were already emerging as they restored parity through three Griffin frees in quick succession.
The inability of Cuala's forwards to win their individual battles was beginning to prove telling with Andy Hand giving an inspired display at corner-back on the talented Twomey.
The visitors took full advantage through excellent points by Eamon Gorman and substitute Eoin Giles and they effectively settled the contest as O'Neill got the slightest of touches onto a Griffin delivery to net with Malone's late strike of inadequate consolation for Cuala.
Scorers - Ballyboden St Enda's: M Griffin 0-9 (9f); N O'Neill 2-0; C Durkin 1-2; E Gorman 0-2; L Mullaney, E Giles 0-1 each. Cuala: D Twomey 0-6 (5f); J Malone 1-2 (0-2f); S Murphy 1-1; E Breathnach 0-2; S Dowling, E Ó Naoire, N O'Dowd 0-1 each.
Ballyboden St Enda's: R Sharkey; R Glynn, J McCormack, A Hand; A O'Connor, D Lennox, D O'Sullivan; L Mullaney, M O'Sullivan; A Dundon, C Durkin, E Gorman; R Cullen, M Griffin, N O'Neill. Subs: A McGrath for Mullaney (half-time), D Lambert for Cullen (41), E Giles for Dundon (48), F Murray for Glynn (55).
Cuala: S Butler; C Hayes, A Browne, M Cahalane; C Byrne, B Browne, N O'Dowd; J Malone, S O'Brien; S Dowling, E Breathnach, S Murphy; D Twomey, A Murphy, C Sheanon. Subs: E Ó Naoire for Dowling (37), C Murphy for Hayes (53), N Kelly for Twomey (55).
Mentors - Ballyboden St Enda's: John Small, John Ryan, Alan Ryan, Alex McCarthy, Mick Ryan. Cuala: Harry Roberts, Brendan Stanley, Timmy Walsh.
Referee: Declan Moloney (St Brigid's).
Wides - Ballyboden St Enda's: 9 (6+3). Cuala: 5 (3+2)
Conditions: Pleasant evening but pitch bobbly in patches.
Player of the Game: Andy Hand (Ballyboden St Enda's).