Boden dig the deepest

by Gazette Reporter
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BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’s pulled off an extraordinary extra time victory over Tipperary’s Clonmel Commercials at O’Moore’s Park, Portlaoise last Saturday to reach their first ever senior football All-Ireland club final on St Patrick’s Day.
For much of the game, the Firhouse Road club looked second best, stifled by Commercials’ all-encompassing blanket defence and unable to stem a tide of wides countered by efficient Clonmel forward play.
It took seven minutes for Ballyboden to knock over the first point, a well-placed free from full forward Andrew Kerin, with nerves the stand out feature of the opening few minutes with shot after shot pulled wide of the mark.
The contained nature of the game continued for the rest of the first half, with Kerin proving Boden’s chief threat, while a more fluid Commercials forward line took advantage of their limited opportunities to lead 0-5 to 0-4.
Star man Michael Darragh Maculey came into his own at the opening of the second half, using his physicality to control midfield, but Clonmel still proved the more efficient in front of goal.
A Conal Keaney free levelled things before Commercials thought they’d notched a critical goal. The Tipperary side’s forwards claimed to have nudged the ball over the line with Boden keeper Paul Durcan off a high catch.
It wasn’t given but Clonmel soon had a three-point lead regardless through a series of poorly-conceded frees from the Dubliners who, in turn, were clearly becoming increasingly frustrated with Jack Kennedy Clonmel’s chief danger.
Boden were creating chances, however, with weak finishing rather than dominant play helping Commercials edge away.
When Declan O’Mahoney’s body check on Jason Lonegan produced a straight red card for Boden with eight minutes on the clock and Clonmel still up by three, the game looked a done deal.
But Boden summoned up a huge effort and markedly improved without O’Mahoney, firstly holding their own, and then finally finding their shooting boots.
With three of their 0-10 coming in three minutes of second half injury time, Darragh Nelson forced extra time with a sensational dying seconds equaliser with five seconds left.
When the sides reappeared, it was clear Boden’s stunning rally had drained Clonmel, who failed to score in 20 minutes of extra time as the blue and white striped men stretched to eight points without reply to win by 0-15 to 0-10.
On an emotional day, MacAuley and Leinster club footballer of the year Kerin – who finished with 0-7 – were the stars, with Boden snatching a victory that rarely looked likely in normal time.
They march onto a St Patrick’s Day contest with Mayo side Castlebar Mitchels, and a shot at their first senior football national title.

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