Evening Herald Dublin SHC 'A' Q-F: Ballyboden St Enda's 2-15, Ballinteer St John's 0-9
THE Drive for Five is still alive after Ballyboden St Enda's comfortably recorded a 12-point victory over Ballinteer St John's in their Evening Herald Dublin Senior Hurling Championship ‘A’ quarter-final at Parnell Park on Saturday afternoon.
The margin of victory may have flattered the reigning county champions on an afternoon where they showed signs of rustiness but there is little doubt they'll have benefitted from |the battling challenge that Ballinteer presented over the hour.
Ultimately the goals in either half from Conor McCormack and substitute Tim Sweeney knocked the stuffing from the Ballinteer challenge although with four minors in their starting 15, the experience accrued from games like Saturday’s could prove invaluable for the Marley Park club in future years.
For St Enda's, it was a case of job done and there were encouraging signs in the midfield pairing of David Curtin and Shane Durkin while Stephen Nolan gave a powerful performance at |centre-back, dominating the aerial exchanges and using the ball intelligently at all times.
Their attack was less fluent than usual with Simon Lambert well stifled at |full-forward and it was only his switch to wing-forward that enabled him to enjoy an element of freedom and influence to his play, while Paul Ryan's only score from play arrived in injury time, another testimony to Ballinteer's spirited rearguard.
With St John's opting to play with the breeze in the opening half, it was imperative to their chances that they started brightly and they took the lead through a long-range free from the impressive James Gilligan.
However, Boden blitzed their opponents with 1-3 inside five minutes as
points from the ever-reliable Malachy Travers and two frees from the metronomic Ryan preceded McCormack's goal as he kicked to the net at the second attempt following a driving surge from Durkin in the ninth minute.
Gilligan and Curtin exchanged classy scores as the game began to settle after the initial frantic exchanges and St John's were progressively emboldened to close the gap to just a goal by the end of the first quarter after points from Seánie Lane and another Gilligan free.
Ronan Collins, Colm Ó Riain and Frank O'Donoghue in particular began to get to grips with the defensive task in hand but Ballinteer's struggles in their own half-forward line ensured they continued under serious pressure with Ryan adding two further frees before to break to add to a point from Emmet Carroll while Joe Maher tagged on two scores for St John's by the interval.
Trailing 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time, Ballinteer needed to replicate their economic first-half showing but instead it was the title holders who opened up a sizeable advantage, doubling their lead by the 42nd minute with Lambert bagging two points in addition to another Ryan free and Curtin's second point of the day.
Maher finally got St John's off the mark in the second-half with a sublime strike from the right flank at the end of the third quarter but their fate was eventually sealed inside two minutes as firstly, Dublin minor Aodhán Clabby blazed over the bar from a |46th-minute penalty and two minutes later Sweeney pounced for ’Boden's second goal.
It arrived in fairly innocuous circumstances as Dean Curran's point attempt fell short but a miscalculation by Louis O'Flaherty allowed Sweeney to gather possession with his first touch and his second found the net from eight yards.
Clabby scored the point of the game as St John's offered spirited resistance in the face of their inevitable defeat as he raced through the ’Boden defence before improvising to one-hand the sliotar over the bar in the 51st minute.
Boden's second-half wide tally continued to rise as the match petered out with Ryan tagging on two frees before his 62nd-minute score from play enhanced the final scoreline for the Firhouse Road men.