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Wednesday 14 November 2018

Boden's soldiers of Fortune primed for Leinster battle

TOP MAN: Joe Fortune. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
TOP MAN: Joe Fortune. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

IF this isn't exactly unchartered waters for Ballyboden St Enda's, Sunday's Leinster SHC quarter-final with Westmeath champions Clonkill in Parnell Park (2.0) leads them back into unconquered territories.

The club's record in the provincial club championship reads: Played 9, Won 3, Lost 6.

In all six of those previous campaigns, 'Boden were beaten by the eventual Leinster champions and as it goes, their most recent victory in the competition came against Clonkill back in 2011.

Not that the survivors of those unsuccessful quests needed any reminding when they reconvened on Tuesday night for the first time since their Dublin SHC 'A' final replay victory over Kilmacud Crokes.

"When you go back over the last few years, when they were successful, teams that wouldn't have been seen as big guns at the time ended 'Boden's dream those years," says manager, Joe Fortune, himself a rejuvenating influence on the group this year.

"It won't be an issue for us. Listening to Simon (Lambert) and Conal (Keaney) speaking on Tuesday night - they're the people who have been in these campaigns before and not achieved what they wanted to achieve after winning Dublin."

Some defeats stung more than others.

Their one-point defeat to Birr in Tullamore in 2007 was the closest they came to Leinster silverware although the wounds inflicted during their s last loss, in 2013 to Carlow's Cinderella Story, Mount Leinster Rangers, presumably took longest to heal.

"People would have said Cuala have had another massive opportunity this year but Cuala themselves would have spoken about how hard it is to get out of Dublin in the first place," Fortune points out.

"I think the focus now is a game at a time. I've spoken to a couple of people over the last 24 hours who have been successful with teams in this competition and the big thing now is we take it a game at a time."

Winners

The Cuala point is pertinent. When the draw was made for the Leinster Club SHC, the fact that the eventual Dublin champions and the Kilkenny winners were on separate sides, plus the fact that the representatives from the capital would have home advantage in the quarter-finals and semis if they progressed, was viewed as 'low-hanging fruit' for Cuala to pick at their ease.

Coming off the back of another All-Ireland club win, there wasn't an observer of Dublin hurling who felt it would be anyone other than Mattie Kenny's team shaking the celebrations from their bones this week to take on Leinster once more.

"One thing that was commented on a lot was in a couple of years there, this was a team that didn't get much luck. They didn't get a break," Fortune points out.

"But this is about the players and the fact that they have driven it on since the start of the year.

Expectancy

"There was an expectancy at the time, given the amount of Dublin players within the Ballyboden squad, that it was just a case of turning up.

"But it doesn't work like that."

There is, Fortune senses, a deep appetite among 'Boden's most experienced campaigners to emulate Cuala now.

A feeling that maybe, they didn't know how lucky they had it during the halcyon days of their five Dublin SHC titles in-a-row.

"The talk before the quarter-final or the semi-final was that 'Boden were an ageing team. But if you look at the numbers, it's funny because it's no necessarily true," he says.

"OK, there's guys that were there five, six, seven years ago. But they were involved at a very young age.

"I'm sure lads will be tired and sore. But what better motivation than going forward into Leinster as county champions," Fortune adds.

"That gets rid of the knocks and bangs very quickly."

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