Boden extra strong
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S 2-25 CLONKILL 2-19
Ballyboden St Enda's advanced to the Leinster club SHC semi-finals last night at Parnell Park with an extra-time victory in their delayed quarter-final with Westmeath's Clonkill in a match played under the pall of a desperate tragedy.
Earlier in the day in Clonkill, the funeral took place of three-year-old Annabel Loughlin, daughter of clubman and former Westmeath hurler Enda Loughlin.
Those in attendance in Parnell Park last night spoke in hushed tones as they arrived.
Beforehand, a minute's silence sustained a little longer than usual.
Yet to their eternal credit, Clonkill mustered a very gutsy performance.
The previous night, the Westmeath champions' manager, Kevin O'Brien, said his team would "guarantee Enda and his family, that we will respect their wishes and tog out" and stated their intention "to do our utmost to put in a performance everyone can be proud of".
They certainly did that. After 12 minutes, they were 0-6 to 0-2 up.
Their captain Brendan Murtagh led manfully from full-forward while Eoin Price was a constant, sniping threat.
Ballyboden started without Gary Maguire after the Dublin goalkeeper was retrospectively suspended by the Dublin county board for an incident in the county final.
Almost inevitably, it took Conal Keaney to settle Ballyboden.
After six minutes, he mined his team's first score. A minute later, Keaney hit a second.
Just like that Dublin SHC 'A' final replay victory over Kilmacud Crokes two Sundays back, Keaney was central to most of the good things Ballyboden did from an attacking sense last night although there were others.
Aidan Mellett, the U21 player who made such a lasting impact on this year's Dublin county hampionship, provided the running to Keaney's graft and ball-winning.
He scored 0-2 also and 'Boden's first half goal in the 31st minute - the first time they led - came directly from Mellett's calm seizure of possession from a Clonkill mistake, his direct run at goal and a smart, lateral handpass across the square to Conor McCormack.
McCormack fluffed his lines but Niall Ryan, who also scored a brilliant point on the run earlier in the half, was on hand to execute an easy finish.
Joe Fortune's team led by 1-9 to 0-10 at half-time and within seconds of the restart, Mellett again went through only to have his shot stopped by the feet of Clonkill 'keeper, Andrew Mitchell.
A couple of Paul Ryan frees put 'Boden two points up but then Clonkill sub Niall Dowdall barged his way down the left flank and squared a pass that Luke Loughlin - cousin of Enda - who met it first time for an equaliser.
Niall McMorrow scored what seemed certain to be the winner before Murtagh sent us to extra-time with a free in the 64th minute.
Therein, Ryan's placed-ball accuracy and a Paul Doherty goal finally broke Clonkill on a night full with emotion.
Boden now face Offaly's Coolderry on Sunday, November 18 in Parnell Park (1.30).