herald

Monday 20 November 2017

Boden set for four-in-a-row

Hogan's men to enhance epic era with victory over Vins

EVENING HERALD DUBLIN SHC 'A' FINAL

Ballyboden St Enda's v St Vincent's

(Tomorrow, Parnell Park, 3.30)

THE bunting is up on Griffith Avenue. Vinnie's are back in Carnegie Hall.

They'll be marching from Marino ... and Donnycarney too.

Not many would have predicted such a journey as the Dublin hurling season swung into action.

But here they are in the county final, looking for their 14th title, and their first since 1993.

Vincent's are the aristocrats of Dublin. Their name carries weight in every corner of the country.

In recent years, Ballyboden's reputation has been spreading like Kerrygold butter. Tomorrow, they have a chance to step into history.

They are seeking the four-in-a-row. They achieved that in 1928 and the following season they made it five.

Yet such statistics won't concern Liam Hogan and his men. They have an appealing modesty about them. It's come from hard years on the road. So many near misses.



LEARNING

But they were learning all the while. And they know that the biggest lesson of all is making sure you perform on the day. The big-match nerves won't affect them or Vincent's. The stage will be packed with experience. Neither of these sides go in for high-fiving, or kissing the badge.

Vincent's have been going quietly about their duties. Shay Fleming wears the Bainisteoir's bib. Shay played on the last Vincent's side to lift the crown. And he was inspirational in the winning of it.

He played for the Dubs. A player that gave his all. Just like Liam Hogan, who wore the Offaly jersey.

Both managers appreciate work-rate. And they have no shortage of willing pupils. The clubs met in the 2007 final. It was Boden's first success. The first half was tight and tense. Under the lights, Boden turned it on in the second.

This year, their Group tie ended in a draw. Vincent's are the only unbeaten side in the Championship.

They are tidy and committed, reflecting the playing personality of the man at the helm.They possess a secure defence, and they have injected pace out the field.

Diarmuid Connolly is in excellent form. He struck a couple of nuggets against Crokes in the semi-final.

That was a disappointing game. Vincent's were in total control of it.

The Connolly brothers are flourishing. And so is Damien Russell, considered one of the most stylish hurlers in the capital.

Ronan Fallon's displays would even please Simon Cowell. Against Kilmacud, he was like the Garda who used to signal the traffic on O'Connell Bridge.

Ruairí Trainor's energy is also valued, and Shane O'Neill has also put in the miles in the famous Marino side's jersey.

But it's the overall industry and compact nature of the team that has been their most impressive feature.

They are playing for each other. And when a team does that, they always have a chance.

As Shay Fleming says, "hurling is a simple game. And when you do the simple things well, you make life easier for everyone."

Boden haven't made life easier for anybody in the modern era. And they had too much in the satchel for O'Toole's last week.

That was always going to be a tricky assignment, but Boden put on their Sunday business suits and did a real professional job.

Paul Ryan underlined again what a class finisher he is. However, he has been an injury concern this week. Boden will need him fully fit as if he gets a pocket of space he'll come out with the jackpot, time after time.

Conal Keaney's presence is a big plus for the holders. He's a noble target man, always showing out front.



SHREDDER

And when he gets the ball in the hand or on the stick, it rarely finds its way into the shredder.

Malachy Travers is a heartbeat of the side. He plays with commendable conviction.

And there's so much craft and class in lads like Stephen Hiney and David Curtin. If Vincent's are playing like a team, so too are the Boden boys.

It's the little brush strokes that make the big picture, lads going the extra distance to scoop a pass to a colleague or tidying up the kitchen when it's not even their main job.

Dave Sweeney is one of the best artists of them all. The little dart of speed, shorten the grip and bang.

Mossy McGrane came on early last Sunday. It's always a bonus to see him don the helmet. Like the Boden bench, Vincent's don't lack pedigree in their dug-out. Both teams will show the resolve of the Chilean miners.

And hopefully the theatre turnstiles will be spinning like Harry Crosbie's big wheel down at the 02. A couple of miles away, it's a blue and white letter day in HQ.

It is hard to separate the sides but Boden's great county final experience, despite the expected absence of Stephen Perkins, coupled with their greater goal-scoring prowess suggests it will be their day.

STORY SO FAR . . .

ST VINCENT'S - Round-Robin: Beat Pat's, Palmerstown 2-15 to 1-12. Drew with Faughs 1-13 to 3-7. Drew with Ballyboden 0-17 to 1-14. Beat Crokes 0-11 to 1-5. Beat O'Toole's 1-14 to 1-5. Quarter-Final: Beat St Jude's 1-14 to 1-12. Semi-Final: Beat Kilmacud Crokes 3-18 to 1-8.

BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S - Round-Robin: Lost to O'Toole's 0-15 to 1-16. Beat Crokes 2-23 to 1-15. Drew with Vincent's 1-14 to 0-17. Beat St Pat's, Palmerstown 4-22 to 0-11. Beat Faughs 6-13 to 0-5. Quarter-Final: Beat Lucan Sarsfields 0-19 to 0-18. Semi-Final: Beat O'Toole's 3-17 to 1-11.

VERDICT: Ballyboden St Enda's

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