Ballyboden St Enda’s got their AHL1 campaign off to a flying start Picture: Cliona Mellett

AHL Division One
Ballyboden St Enda’s 1-14
St Vincent’s 0-6

BALLYBODEN St Enda’s started their AHL1 title defence with a remarkable first half clean sheet as they proved too strong for St Vincent’s who failed to register at Firhouse Road until the second half last Sunday.

On their home turf of Pairc Ui Murchu, Boden produced a dominant display to overcome the opening round challenge of the Marino men.

En route to securing their seventh Senior Hurling Championship title in 2018, the southsiders defeated Vins by four points (2-16 to 0-18) at the semi-final stage and they showed them a clear pair of heels this time, too.

Despite their respective retirements from inter-county duty, Gary Maguire and Shane Durkin will continue to play active roles for Boden at club level.

They were joined in Sunday’s squad by the likes of captain Simon Lambert, Niall McMorrow and Conor Dooley – who have all featured for the Sky Blues in recent times.

Facing into a stiff breeze, Vincent’s dominated possession in the early exchanges.

Boden held firm in defence, however, with the likes of James Madden and Luke Corcoran leading the way. Following a barren spell in front of the posts for both teams, Boden attacker Paul Doherty broke the deadlock with a long-distance effort.

Some smart play in the opposition half helped the hosts to stretch their lead, before James Roche’s clinical strike produced the first goal of the game. The versatile Conor Dooley subsequently added a free to give Ballyboden a commanding interval advantage of 1-4 to 0-0.

Given the strength of the elements, a potential Vincent’s comeback couldn’t be discounted on the restart. The northside visitors – third-place finishers in last year’s league – had offered a threat prior to the break, with Mark O’Keeffe unfortunate not to find the target.

Yet, it was Joe Fortune’s charges who maintained a stranglehold on the contest. In addition to a Roche score, Dooley grabbed a three-point salvo to keep Boden in the driving seat.

Vincent’s eventually opened their account through Conor Burke and former All-Star nominee Ronan Fallon later split the uprights to bring the gap down to seven.

Nevertheless, Boden were never in danger of letting the game slip out of their grasp. Dooley – Dublin’s first-choice netminder in 2016 – bolstered his tally with four eye-catching points, while Niall Ryan and Sean McDonnell also added their names to the scoresheet.

This was an ideal way for Ballyboden to get their campaign up and running, and they will next face a trip to newly-promoted Ballinteer St John’s on March 10.