| 14.4°C Dublin

Boden covet finest hour Nolan says champs want season's 'big display' in final

PERFORMANCE is the cement that holds the house together. If you get that right, everything else will fall into place.

That's the considered verdict of the accomplished Ballyboden St Enda's centre half-back, Stephen Nolan (pictured), who is preparing for Sunday's Evening Herald Dublin Senior Hurling Championship 'A' final against O'Toole's in Parnell Park (3.45).

"We won't be thinking about county titles, setting records or anything else like that. The most important thing to us is how we perform. That's all we are concerned with," states Stephen.

"At the start of the year, our manager, Liam Hogan, said that he was looking for that one big display where we can show our full potential. And that's what we are aiming for.

"In the quarter-final against Ballinteer St John's, we hurled well for about 25 minutes. And then against Lucan we produced it for about 40 minutes, so that was a bit of an improvement.

"Ever since returning to training at the start of the year, our priority has focused on making sure we deliver our potential on the day.

"So it wasn't so much about winning against Lucan. We just wanted to hurl as well as we could.

"As I say, we had a decent 40-minute stretch, but then we went a bit flat, so we know we have loads of things to work on."

This is Stephen's second year at 'Boden. "I am really enjoying it. They are such a professional club.

"It's like an inter-county set-up. There's 35 players out at training and the club look after us all very well."

Losing Stephen Perkins last term was a blow to the champions. He was one of the finest defenders in the city.

Perkins had so much confidence about him. The bigger the game the more relaxed he was.

But the arrival of the other Stephen from Wexford was a significant addition to the Firhouse furniture. He too has an admirable temperament. He is a genuine commander-in-chief at the gateway to the Rathfarnham Castle.

Stephen reads the play well. He's superb under the dropping ball and he has the ability to fly the sliotar to the moon.



Triumphs

He helped the club to their fourth successive Senior Hurling Championship title when they defeated St Vincent's last October.

Before that, 'Boden's Dublin SHC final triumphs came against St Vincent's (2007), Kilmacud Crokes (2008) and Craobh Chiaráin (2009).

Sometimes, the first one can be the hardest to win.

In 2007, under the lights on final night, 'Boden broke for the border in the second half, and they haven't looked back since.

They have become the market leaders of Dublin hurling, raising the bar on the club scene in tandem with the county side.

Stephen settled very snugly into the team. He was the perfect fit. And his contribution suggested that he had grown up in Páirc Uí Mhurchú.

Initially, he formed a very formidable half-back line with Stephen Hiney and his fellow county-man, Malachy Travers.

With Hiney's long-term injury, Dublin U21 of this year, Dean Curran, has come into the half-back department and acquitted himself well.

Boden's defence restricted Lucan to just five scores from play (1-4) in their commanding 6-10 to 1-8 semi-final victory. And the 'Boden half-backs are also well able to engineer moments of attacking promise with a dash of adventure or by delivering accurate, quick ball.



Excelled

Stephen excelled against O'Toole's in last year's semi-final and against Vins in the final, and he was honoured on the Evening Herald/Dublin Bus Dubs Stars team and he's now relishing Sunday's Showdown.

"I think it is going to be a mighty game. O'Toole's are fabulous hurlers. Hopefully we can match them on the day.

"It is a match everybody is looking forward to. It's a very attractive fixture and I feel it could well be a cracker."

Since coming to the capital, Stephen has been impressed with hurling in "The Big Smoke".

"There's four or five teams in Dublin that are as good as anything that's out there.

"Look at us last year. We were only a puck of a ball away from beating O'Loughlin Gaels, and they went on to the All-Ireland final (beaten by Galway's Clarinbridge).

"Boden have got out of Dublin for a few years, but you have to strive for that 60-minute performance.

"That's what you are always looking for," adds Nolan.

"If you manage to produce your best for the 60 minutes, it all comes down to the bounce of the ball after that."

And Stephen insists that on Sunday, in Parnell Park, it's the team that comes closest to maintaining their tempo for the 60-plus minutes that will turn the duel into a happy hour and represent Dublin in Leinster.

ROUTES TO SUNDAY'S EVENING HERALD DUBLIN SHC 'A' FINAL

Semi-finals: Ballyboden St Enda's 6-10 Lucan Sarsfields 1-8; O'Toole's 1-17 St Brigid's 0-15.

Quarter-finals: Ballyboden St Enda's 2-15 Ballinteer St John's 0-9; O'Toole's 0-12 Kilmacud Crokes 1-6.