Boden hand Louth aces a dose of blues
BALLYBODEN SE 1-11 NEWTOWN BLUES 0-5
If the scoreline here gives the impression of a leisurely toe-tip for Ballyboden St Enda's into the icy waters of provincial club football, it is blatantly misleading in doing so.
The Dublin champions had it tough yesterday in Drogheda. Winter football tough.
At half-time, they were level with Newtown Blues (who, for the purposes of differentiation, wore the Louth county jerseys) - 0-3 to 0-3 - and had been reduced to 14 men.
Cathal Flaherty, one of their three first-half scorers, was sent off for a strike on Newtown Blues full-back Fergal Donahue after the pair jostled under a kick-out and David Coldrick's nose.
There and then, memories of the respective and unceremonious exits of the last two Dublin champions in Leinster (Kilmacud Crokes to Mullinalaghta and St Vincent's to Rathnew) seemed entirely relevant.
And for Ballyboden's manager Anthony Rainbow, the venue held no personal comfort.
"I remember coming up here with Kildare in 1991 and Stefan White putting us out of the Championship," he reflected after a long exhalation at 'Boden's slow-burning win.
"We got to a League final that year and we were hot favourites going into it.
"It really is a tough place to get a result. The crowd are on top of you. It's tough."
There are few situations, however, in football - or indeed life - that won't be made more interesting by the addition of Michael Darragh Macauley. Yesterday in Drogheda was a case in point.
Macauley was concussed in the Dublin county final seven days previously, although, as Rainbow explained, he cleared all medical protocols required to play yesterday.
He had also been carrying a groin injury since the club programme restarted, after winning his seventh All-Ireland medal. Thus, Macauley was only deemed fit for introduction in the 55th minute.
"Mick has a lot of miles on the clock and we do have to look after him," Rainbow explained.
"The knock he got last week, he went through the protocols and was fine. But then he had the groin issue as well and we need to mind that and take the load off him as well."
There were only two points in the game (0-7 to 0-5) when the 2013 Footballer of the Year arrived yesterday.
With his first act, Macauley took a pass from Conal Keaney - another to make a pronounced impact off the bench - and rampaged towards goal with that familiar, frenetic stride.
As he approache d Colm Judge, Newtown's sweeper, Macauley soloed the ball a full two feet over his head but his momentum forced the experienced Louth player into an act of extreme desperation.
Judge's foot trip brought an inevitable black card and a Ballyboden penalty.
Ryan Basquel, chipped the kick deliberately over the bar, to extend 'Boden's lead to a then scarcely-catchable four points.
From the next kick-out, Macauley turned over a Newtown defender and set off on another rampage.
This time, he drew three defenders and then flicked a hand pass to his left to Collie Basquel.
Basquel's finish was a rare act of artistry on an afternoon of otherwise grinding industry.
"There was nothing in it at half-time. there really wasn't," Rainbow acknowledged.
"I think if you look at our second half performance in terms of our bench - Mick coming on, Conal Keaney coming on, they made a huge difference to us.
"I think the subs that we made really drove it on.
"So it's a combination of a lot of things but I think in general, if you look at the conditioning of the players, that really had a lot to do with it in the last 10 or 15 minutes. We'll enjoy today, we'll enjoy tonight and we'll have a big focus in the next two weeks."
SCORERS - Ballyboden: C Basquel 1-4 (0-2f), R Basquel (1 pen, 1f) 0-3, C Keaney 0-2, R McGarry, C Flaherty 0-1 each. Newtown: A McDonnell 0-2 (2f), C Judge, R Carr, C Downey (f) 0-1 each.
BALLYBODEN: D Gogan; C Flaherty, B Dwan, S Clayton; B Bobbett, R McDaid, K Kennedy; A Waters, D O'Mahoney; D O'Reilly, C Basquel, A Flood; W Egan, R Basquel, R McGarry. Subs: C Keaney for Egan (41), J Holland for O'Reilly (44), T Hayes for Flood (47), MD Macauley for Waters (55 inj), S Gibbons for Dwan (57), D McCabe for O'Mahoney (62)
NEWTOWN: J Lowney; A Connor, K Carr, P Moore; J Connolly, E Carolan, F Donahue; A McDonnell, J Kermode; I Connor, R Carr, C Downey; J Kelly, C Branigan, C Judge. Subs: C Moore for Kelly (22), J McDonnell for I Connor (46), T Costello for Branigan (52), C Reynolds for Carr (55), N Costello for Carolan (57 black card), R Levins for Judge (62 black card)
REF: D Coldrick (Meath)
leinster club SFC