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Perfect day for the Mun after years of pain

Dublin SFC final 2020: Ballymun Kickhams 1-19 Ballyboden St Enda's 0-8

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Ballymun Kickhams captain James McCarthy (centre) lifts the Clerys Perpetual Cup alongside Paddy Small (l) and John Small after the Dublin SFC final at Parnell Park

Ballymun Kickhams captain James McCarthy (centre) lifts the Clerys Perpetual Cup alongside Paddy Small (l) and John Small after the Dublin SFC final at Parnell Park

SPORTSFILE

Ballymun Kickhams captain James McCarthy (centre) lifts the Clerys Perpetual Cup alongside Paddy Small (l) and John Small after the Dublin SFC final at Parnell Park

The scoreboard tells its own hard-to-believe story, but even that doesn't convey the full scale of Ballymun's voracious domination of yesterday's Dublin SFC final.

You might even single out one cameo, in the 43rd minute, that told you just how much Kickhams were up for the challenge of landing that tantalising fourth county title after an eight-year hiatus full of regrets, recriminations and what-ifs.

They were already 12 points clear of Ballyboden St Enda, having landed a dozen points on the spin. The holders hadn't scored from the tenth minute; try as they might, they already knew the gig was up.

But as they pushed and probed in search of a score that might reignite their back-to-back quest, the ball was popped into Conal Keaney's path maybe 20 metres from goal.

Just as the veteran talisman took possession, though, John Small arrived to deliver a massive hit. The shoulder looked perfectly legitimate but Keaney probably never saw it coming and he crashed to the turf.

Even with one hand on the cup, the message from this tough-as-nails Dublin half-back resonated through the air of an all-but-deserted Parnell Park. The 'Mun were not for moving. They had waited long enough.

Accelerated

"Thrilled, both for the players and everybody in the club," beamed winning boss Brendan Hackett when it was officially all over and his players had accelerated to a 14-point win.

"Because for years there's been near-misses and there's always been an excuse whereas this year ... I said at the start it's going to be the toughest Dublin championship ever because every team was fully fit, all the players. We beat the four best teams - it doesn't get much better than that and probably saved the best for last. It was a great performance."

No argument there. The flip side is that Ballyboden never came close to the stellar levels of which they are capable.

How much was that down to Ballymun being so in the zone? Quite a lot. But it's also arguable that the injury cloud hanging over Collie Basquel, Michael Darragh Macauley and Andy Waters in the fortnight leading to this final didn't help their cause.

Basquel, so elusive and menacing at his best, was often shunted to the periphery and confined to just two converted frees before his departure on 50 minutes.

Macauley huffed and puffed around midfield but nothing really came off, whereas winning skipper James McCarthy glided between the lines almost effortlessly at times.

Perhaps an even bigger factor was the loss, through suspension, of Boden 'keeper Darragh Gogan, sent off in the dying minutes of their semi-final win over St Jude's.

Mark McNamee was parachuted into goals but was put under big pressure on his first half kickouts. Even when Boden managed to win some of the breaks, they were often on the back foot and coughed up possession quickly.

By contrast, after losing his very first kickout, Evan Comerford successfully got away the rest of his first half restarts, usually going short but then pinging to the wings whenever Boden tried to squeeze up.

And yet, for all of Ballymun's ultimate dominance, the opening ten minutes had hinted that this year's county final would ebb and flow in both directions for the full hour.

A week after losing the senior hurling decider, Keaney latched onto a breaking ball to blast over the opening point inside 30 seconds. The dual star carried the gait of a man determined not to suffer a double-whammy of final despair and would prove to be Boden's most dangerous attacking outlet (in the face of admittedly threadbare competition), finishing the game with 0-3 from play.

And yet every time Ballymun attacked at pace, the Boden defence creaked. Paddy Small opened their account with a 'mark', then Cathal O'Tighe and the livewire Dillon Keating added quickfire points. The former effort could have been preceded by a goal, but the pass across goal to the waiting Cameron McCormack was just too high, while Keating's opener was another potential goal chance.

After Collie Basquel (free) and Keaney (a booming effort on the turn) had drawn the sides level, Dean Rock opened his account from a routine free and then Boden captain Ryan Basquel equalised off his weaker right.

Ten breathless minutes in and all-square. Yet this proved the ultimate illusion.

For the next 35 scarcely believable minutes, the Firhouse Road men would fail to score. In that same prolonged purple period, Ballymun rattled off 12 points on the bounce.

They led by three at the water break, ten at the interval (0-14 to 0-4) and then 12 after Keating, starting in place of the suspended Davey Byrne, added an eye-catching brace on the resumption.

With gaps appearing everywhere in the Ballyboden defence, Rock emerged as their executioner-in-chief. By half-time the Dublin scoresmith already had 0-8 to his name; by the time his putative shadow, Shane Clayton, was switched onto Paddy Small, around 25 minutes, Rock had taken him for four points from play as well as converting a mark.

Crunching

On the restart, after Keating's double and Small's crunching shoulder, Ballyboden rallied to an extent with three consecutive points.

But all the while, their wide count was rising ... and their profligacy was further punished as Ballymun tagged on a late 1-3, with the holders limited to a Ryan Basquel goal chance was flashed over from an angle.

Two of those late points came from Fiach Andrews, who finished with 0-4 in a productive shift.

The goal came after sub Andrew McCaul was fouled in the act of shooting wide, and Rock buried the resultant 63rd minute penalty with the confidence that comes when you know it's your day.

For Ballymun, the perfect day.

SCORERS - Ballymun: D Rock 1-8 (1-0 pen, 3f, 1m), F Andrews 0-4, D Keating 0-3, P Small 0-2 (1m), C O'Tighe, J Whelan 0-1 each. Ballyboden: C Keaney, R Basquel (1f) 0-3 each, C Basquel 0-2f.

BALLYMUN : E Comerford; L Young, E Dolan, P McMahon; C Keeley, J Small, D Conlon; A Elliott, J McCarthy; C McCormack, F Andrews, C O'Tighe; P Small, D Keating, D Rock. Subs: J Whelan for O'Tighe (50), A McCaul for Keating (53), C McManus for McCormack (58), B Ashton for Elliott (60).

BALLYBODEN: M McNamee; S Clayton, K Kennedy, C Flaherty; B Bobbett, D Nelson, R McDaid; MD Macauley, A Waters; R McGarry, W Egan, D O'Reilly; C Keaney, R Basquel, C Basquel. Subs: A Flood for O'Reilly (ht), D O'Mahony for Bobbett (ht), J Holland for Nelson (ht), S Lambert for C Basquel (50), T Hayes for McGarry (55).

WIDES: Ballymun 6 (3+3); Ballyboden 12 (7+5)

YELLOW CARDS: Ballymun 1 (McCarthy 49); Ballyboden 3 (Macauley 30+3, O'Mahony 49, R Basquel 60)

BLACK: 0

RED: 0

REF: S Farrelly (Ballinteer St John's)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Dean Rock (Ballymun)