** By Cóilín Duffy
Conor Dooley is determined to deliver an AIB Leinster Senior Hurling title for Ballyboden St. Enda’s this Sunday, when they face provincial kingpins Ballyhale Shamrocks at Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow (2pm).
The Kilkenny side are top of the pile in Leinster at present with eight titles, and while Boden are seeking a first provincial crown this weekend, Dooley says they have what it takes to deliver silverware, in just their second ever final.
“It’s brilliant to be in the final. I know in years gone by the lads had a number of county titles under their belt and they went into the Leinster Championship and fell short, but this year we are hoping to bring something special and something new,” Dooley told the Dublin Gazette.
“We know what we are up against in Ballyhale, and the experience they have on and off the field. We’ll do our best to try and match it and hopefully better it on Sunday.”
Dooley says Cuala were great ambassadors for Dublin in recent years, and he’s hoping that the Firhouse Road men can go on to replicate some of that success.
“Cuala represented Dublin hurling fairly well over the last few years and fair dues to them,” he said.
“They put Dublin hurling back on the map again when I think it was at a bit of a low. They set the bar and we are going to try and match it please God.
“We’ll just take it one step at a time, starting next Sunday with the Leinster final. That’s all we are concentrating on too be honest, so we’ll just go from there.”
Joe Fortune has been an excellent addition to the St Enda’s backroom team and Dooley says it’s brilliant to have the former Dublin underage manager involved.
“He might be a new face in the club, but he’s not a new face to a lot of the lads on the pitch,“ he said.
“A lot of lads have had him underage with Dublin and in college with DIT and stuff like that. He’s a good lad, he brings a lot of heart to the team. Honesty and trust is all that he stands with.
“We are happy enough with him. We are just looking to move on this weekend and hopefully we get a result.”
Colm Basquel has been one of the finds of the campaign so far.
More noted for his Gaelic football skills, Dooley says it isn’t totally surprising that Basquel is also doing well with a hurl.
“He’s always had it in fairness to him,” Dooley said.
“I saw him playing at underage a couple of times and he’s well able to hurl. He’s athletic and I’d imagine any kind of sport he throws his hand at he would be fairly good at.
“We all knew that was there. It was just up to him whether or not he wanted to show us or not.”
It took an epic semi-final before Boden eventually booked their place in a first final in 11 years, and Dooley says it was a battle
“It was a tough battle. We went to extra-time a number of times over the year and replays as well.
“We knew we had it in the legs and we tried to press on, and thankfully we got the result.”
More of the same would go a long way to Ballyboden delivering a first Leinster Senior Hurling title on Sunday. Only time will tell!