Monday 27 January 2020

Boden strength sees 'Castle siege work

Depth of panel illustrated once again as St Enda’s advance to the decider

HANDS OFF: Robbie McDaid of Ballyboden St Endas shakes off the challenge of Garrycastle’s Mark McCallon at Cusack Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
HANDS OFF: Robbie McDaid of Ballyboden St Endas shakes off the challenge of Garrycastle’s Mark McCallon at Cusack Park. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Last Sunday saw Ballyboden St Enda's advance to the final of the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship final as they accounted for Garrycastle as comfortably and as confidently as the 3-14 to 0-12 final score would imply.

From the early stages, the Firhouse Road side never looked in any trouble and memories of their defeat to the same opposition at the corresponding stage ten years ago were quickly banished once Robbie McDaid raced through for a fifth-minute goal, a score that set the tone for Ballyboden dominance.

That they should prevail by such a margin is testament to the depth of talent prevalent in their panel at present where they were hardly inconvenienced by the absence of the suspended Cathal Flaherty and the injured Aran Waters and Daragh Nelson.


With Michael Darragh Macauley also not making the starting line-up, one might have argued in advance that the Dublin champions were susceptible to a Garrycastle ambush, as they were a decade ago, but there's no doubting that Anthony Rainbow enjoys greater options than those offered to 2009 manager Liam O'Dwyer.

"I think that's credit to the panel we have within the team," said Rainbow.

"It's not only the starting 15 that we've emphasised all year, it's the panel.

"It's not the 22 or 23 even that get onto the pitch, we have 33 or 34 guys on the panel and they drive the players on in training and that's really important to us.

"It's excellent. That takes a lot of work. We've worked on that over the last two years, before I came in as well. They've been in their routine of doing their gym work twice a week. They're professional in that sense. We just put the right structures in place and they've driven it on themselves, they're an incredible bunch of guys to work with," added the former Kildare defender.

Any trip away from home can be fraught with danger, but Ballyoden look like a team that are maturing and growing in confidence with every game, much like they did on their run to All-Ireland glory in the 2015/16 campaign.

They may have struggled slightly to find their collective groove in their opening provincial encounter last Sunday fortnight, but with the help of McDaid's goal, they settled into their stride from the outset at Cusack Park, something that was pleasing to Rainbow.

"We looked at the Newtown Blues game and especially in the first half of the game we were probably a bit eager to get forward and to try to get the shot off.

"We talked about being a bit more patient and we were a bit more patient in the first half.

"We weren't bringing it down the middle channels where it was blocked up, we kept working the wings the whole time and eventually those gates did open up.

"Robbie was phenomenal again on Sunday, he scored 1-1 and held that central position very well," he added.

Their reward now is a final date with an Éire Óg team that were equally impressive in dismantling Portlaoise in their semi-final at O'Moore Park on Saturday evening.

For a side now 24 games unbeaten in 2019, St Enda's will not lack for confidence ahead of the decider on Sunday week and it's unlikely that Rainbow or his players will look too far ahead despite the promise that the season holds at this point.

"We played the (league) semi-final last Sunday, we don't know when the final of that is going to be fixed for.

"We had one draw (in the league) and the rest all wins. It's a good record to have but we're just taking each game as it comes. We're not looking at the game after that.

"Every game that we play, and we talk about it and it was the same after the Newtown Blues game, our next game was the league semi-final against Lucan, we concentrated on that, our next game now is Éire Óg and we're not looking beyond that," concluded Rainbow.

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