Friday 24 January 2020

Christmas cheer for Boden but cramped schedule a joke says Basquel

You've got to keep playing in crucial moments - Ryan

Ryan Basquel lifts the trophy following Ballyboden’s AIB Club SF Championship Final win over between Eire Óg of Carlow. Photo: Sportsfile
Ryan Basquel lifts the trophy following Ballyboden’s AIB Club SF Championship Final win over between Eire Óg of Carlow. Photo: Sportsfile

It wasn't long after their compelling victory in Portlaoise on Sunday that the reality of their Christmas began to dawn on Ballyboden's celebrating players.

In 2015, the last time Boden won a Leinster title, they had all the time in the world - 11 weeks to be precise - to recover, enjoy all Christmas has to offer and prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final against Clonmel Commercials.

Now they have less than four - including the distractions of the festive season and a Dublin League final against Ballymun Kickhams - to equip themselves for a semi-final with Kilcoo.

"It's just way too cramped," reckons their captain, Ryan Basquel, who popped up with a brilliant winning score in O'Moore Park on Sunday as Ballyboden capped their 50th anniversary with a second Leinster title.

"I'd understand if it was all done before Christmas.

"But TJ Reid said it the last day."


Kilkenny captain Reid branded the scheduling "a disgrace," after Ballyhale ensured a hectic Christmas for themselves when they retained their Leinster club hurling title two weeks back.

"He's an inter-county player and I'm a club player and I don't think it should be the way it is," Basquel noted.

"I don't see the sense of it being played in January."

It was the only gripe on an otherwise joyous day for Ballyboden who in line with some of their recent footballing traditions, kept as much drama in Sunday's Leinster final as possible right until the the point when they won it.

In the Dublin SFC quarter-final back in October, they required extra-time to beat Na Fianna, wherein a dramatic Robbie McDaid block on the stroke of half-time probably prevented them going out of the Championship.

Against St Jude's in the semi-final, they were six points down against a team who had conceded less than nine points a game prior to that.

Fast forward to their first game in Leinster and Anthony Rainbow's side trailed Newtown Blues in the second half of their first-round game in Drogheda, having been reduced to 14 men.

Their Leinster final cliffhanger last Sunday even brought back memories of their last Leinster final, when an inexplicable wide from a close-range free from the otherwise accurate Paul Cahillane and an outstanding save from Paul Durcan in the Donegal goalkeeper's only full season with the club prevented them losing to Portlaoise.

Basquel himself had already missed a free from the right-hand side of the Éire Óg goal in that tense second half last Sunday before his chance for glory presented itself.

"I was going to get lynched if I didn't score that one!," he admits.

"Ah, we've done the work all year. You have to keep backing yourself and if it's on, you take it on. Warren Egan came off the bench and he kicked an unbelievable score to level us.

"That confidence went throughout the team and then thankfully, I got the next one."

"All our games this year; Na Fianna went down to the wire, Jude's went down to the wire.

"So we know it's going to go down to the wire and you've just got to keep playing in those crucial minutes. That's why you train.

"There's no point going into the shell. If you think it's on, you've got to go for it."

It is something of a rites of passage for the winners of Leinster to prevail in a blizzard played on a bog.

Sunday's game was played in even worse weather conditions than last year's decider between Mullinalaghta and Kilmacud Crokes.

Rainbow was almost wide-eyed when he observed afterwards: "You don't really see how bad the pitch was or the conditions were until you get out to the pitch.

"I think a lot of people in the stands or looking at it from home as well didn't think conditions were as bad as they were.

"It was horrendous out there, you are looking at gale-force winds of 30 to 40kph.

"A pitch that, probably there was a lot of rain on over the last four or five days, it didn't hold it too well."

Yet Boden knew from their own recent experience that to win an All-Ireland title, you must be equipped with as many tools to win on mucky, windswept days like last Sunday as dry afternoons on hard pitches.

"That's just winter football," Basquel shrugged.

"Some of the conditions are just so hard to play in. Then you might get lucky. Two weeks ago against Garrycastle, it was a nice day on a good pitch and you could play a bit.

"Other days, you're just going to be slogging it out right till the end. Yeah, hopefully the next day will be more open but today was just about getting over the line and we're just so happy that we did.

"That's just the nature of these games and winter football.

"We stayed at it. We got eight points and three of them in the last two minutes.

"It just goes to show you," Basquel concluded, "if you just keep plugging away, you'll get the scores in the end."

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