Ballyboden St Enda’s held off a spirited fightback from Foxrock/Cabinteely to claim the AIG Dublin Feile Division One title at a misty IT Blanchardstown on Sunday afternoon.
After Abbie Brennan had raised a green flag in the early moments, a Rachel Callery penalty offered Foxrock a lifeline. There were a number of fine defensive performances on both sides in a tightly-contested affair, but it was Boden who eventually emerged with the spoils.
The Emma Jones Memorial Cup was the prize on offer for the winning team – named in memory of the Templeogue Synge Street underage star, whose family donated the trophy for the Feile competition in 2009.
Boden and Foxrock had already faced each other in Group B of the top division a day earlier. Cabinteely edged that low-scoring outing (1-0 to 0-2) at Silver Park, but thanks to their superior scoring average, Boden progressed to the semi-final as group winners.
A runners-up spot for Foxrock saw them facing St Brigid’s in a most dramatic penultimate round fixture. With the sides on level terms after extra-time (Brigid’s 0-6, Foxrock 2-0), a free-taking competition was needed to determine who would face Boden following their 1-4 to 0-6 success over Lucan Sarsfields.
A 2-0 win finally secured Foxrock’s place in the final which was preceded by an impeccably-observed minute’s silence for Na Fianna Club Secretary Deirdre Lambe who sadly passed away over the weekend.
Eager to make up for their defeat to the same opposition on Saturday, Boden broke the deadlock with a Kate Donaghy point in the second minute. In tandem with Aine Rafter and Hannah Byrne, Brennan was a lively presence.
After she was picked out close to the Foxrock goal, she coolly fired beyond the reach of the stranded Nicole Kenna for a well-worked three-pointer. She added a single to this major at the end of a subsequent attack, as Boden created early daylight between the teams.
Though Foxrock were finding it hard to settle, their challenge came to life on 11 minutes. When Sarah Jane Campbell was fouled inside the square, referee Andrew McAllister pointed to the spot. Callery’s subsequent effort from 11 metres got the better of Boden custodian Shauna Feely.
This placed the Pairc Ui Murchu side on high alert, but their response was emphatic. Byrne and Rafter, following excellent approach work by Brennan, added points in the large stages of the opening period, giving Ballyboden a commanding 1-4 to 1-0 lead at the interval.
Foxrock had displayed a great deal of resilience en route to the final and it was expected that they would push ‘Boden all the way after the break. Indeed, they cut the gap to three points when an Ailbhe French ’45’ bounced over the woodwork just three minutes into the second half.
They squeezed out the Boden attack on a number of occasions, ensuring they couldn’t bring the same fluidity to their forward play as they had in the opening 15 minutes. Leah Cunningham did find the back of the Foxrock net six minutes from the end, but it was ruled out for a square ball.
With Callery driving forward at every available opportunity, Foxrock were priming themselves for a final onslaught on the opposing goal. Yet, Boden eventually cancelled out French’s earlier score with a Donaghy point, after she cut across from the left-wing to split the posts in devastating fashion.
Foxrock were not prepared to throw in the towel, however, and the ‘Boden rearguard scrambled to divert Hannah O’Sullivan’s goal-bound strike away from the target.
French’s second point in the 27th-minute kept the Ballyboden supporters on tenterhooks, but even though their side were on the back-foot in the dying embers of a compelling contest, they held on for a three-point win.