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Friday 6 December 2019

McDaid aiming to maintain Boden's hot winning streak

IMPROVING: Ballyboden’s Robbie McDaid in action against Garrycastle in the Leinster SFC Club semi-final. Pic: Sportsfile
IMPROVING: Ballyboden’s Robbie McDaid in action against Garrycastle in the Leinster SFC Club semi-final. Pic: Sportsfile

Planet Dublin GAA may have been sent spinning on its axis last Saturday but, even in the world after Jim Gavin, life carries on.

And for one of Gavin's 2019 foot soldiers, Robbie McDaid, a progressive year promises to finish on the perfect high.

All that's required is for Ballyboden St Enda's to repeat what they've been doing all season long.

Winning matches.

The big one is Sunday's AIB Leinster club SFC final against Éire Óg in Portlaoise (2pm). But even if they lift that title for the second time in the club's 50-year history, the champagne may have to be put on ice with a Dublin AFL Division 1 final looming against Ballymun Kickhams the following Thursday night.

Exposed

McDaid sent Boden on their way to the provincial final with an early goal in Mullingar nine days ago, stemming from an eye-catching run through the exposed heart of the Garrycastle defence.

"It doesn't happen too often!" the centre-back admits. "Once I saw the gap I just went for it … my left boot wouldn't be the most trustworthy but it went in, and it was great to get that start."

It was the latest upward shift in the career graph of a player who had been in and out of Gavin's Dublin senior panel - more recently back in favour.

"I was in for the whole year in 2016, then for the league in '17 and then I was dropped," he explains. "I got back in this year and, yeah, it's been great. Great to make my championship debut against Tyrone, and play a few league games before that. And then for this to just continue on … you don't want it to stop!"

Thus, McDaid has banked two All-Ireland medals with the Dubs - and one at club level too, dating back to Ballyboden's rampant victory over Castlebar Mitchels in March 2016.

"Look, it's brilliant," the 26-year-old says of Boden's return to the Leinster final stage. "It doesn't happen too often. You think after winning it you'll be back again, and it took us four years ... you just have to take your chances when you're there.

"The club is celebrating 50 years as well so it's a nice way to celebrate."

Incredibly, Anthony Rainbow's men have gone 24 league and championship games unbeaten this year, winning 23. They've had six straight victories in Dublin SFC1; another two in Leinster; 14 divisional wins (and one draw with Kilmacud) in Dublin AFL, followed by a league semi-final win over Lucan.

But arguably their best performance of late came in that Leinster semi-final against Garrycastle. Skipper Ryan Basquel (0-3) and younger brother Colm (1-3, 2f) kept the scoreboard ticking over, as ever, but only as part of a prolific collective: another six players, including McDaid with 1-1, shared a further 2-8 between them.

Headlines

"The two Basquels are getting all the headlines but, look, the lads around them are well able to take their scores and give Collie and Ryan a dig-out," he says. "It's a great asset to have, where you have danger coming from all sides of the pitch."

But what of the threat now posed by the latest Carlow rising?

The night before their semi-final, McDaid tuned into TV for Éire Óg's cruise past Portlaoise. "A very good, organised side," he concludes. "We'll have had two weeks to look at them properly ... we know it will be a big test."

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