Ballyboden St Enda’s 0-24
St Vincent’s 1-19
Ballyboden St Enda’s advanced to their first Go-Ahead Senior 1 Hurling Championship final since 2020 when overcoming St Vincent’s by two points after extra-time at Parnell Park on Sunday afternoon.
The sides were deadlocked at 0-16 to 1-13 at the end of normal time and it remained similarly tight right up until the last puck of the game when Tom Connolly saw his late, late penalty diverted to safety by Conor O’Donoghue, via his right-hand upright.
On a perfect day for hurling with glorious sunshine and barely a breeze to speak of, the contest failed to truly ignite until the thrilling closing stages of normal time and extra time but that will matter little to Boden as they seek their sixth senior title in a fortnight’s time.
After a four-week break, it was St Vincent’s that showed few signs of rustiness initially as they impressed in the early stages with Darach McBride opening the scoring following a smart turn in the 3rd minute.
Matters improved even further for St Vincent’s in the 7th minute as Rian McBride glided through onto an Oisín Mulcahy pass with his resultant shot from ten yards crashing past Conor O’Donoghue in the Ballyboden goal.
However, that goal proved the high point for a St Vincent’s team that struggled with their precision and general cohesion for the remainder of the half, allowing St Enda’s the opportunity to slowly but surely play their way back into contention.
A Paul Ryan free in the 10th minute, following a foul on the lively Pearce Christie, opened the Ballyboden account and two further placed balls from Ryan saw him trim his team’s deficit to a solitary point by the end of the first quarter.
Shane Durkin levelled matters with Ballyboden’s first point from play in the 21st minute and Ryan availed of a poor clearance to edge his team ahead a minute later with their opponents in desperate need of a score at this juncture.
It duly arrived through Mark Sweeney in the 25th minute, ending a scoreless period of eighteen minutes in the process, and a John Hetherton free edged Vinnies a point clear soon after.
The half finished on a positive note for Ballyboden however, with fine scores from play from Simon Lambert, Jack Lambert and Kevin Desmond seeing them enter the break with a marginal 0-8 to 1-3 advantage.
St Enda’s maintained that momentum in the early stages of the second-half as a Ryan free was quickly followed by Desmond’s second of the day, leaving Vinnies with a four-point deficit on their hands.
With Hetherton superbly marshalled by James Madden, the onus fell on Rian McBride to keep the Vinnies scoreboard ticking over and he popped over two delightful scores within three minutes to keep his side in the hunt.
A brace of points from Niall Ryan at the opposite ned ensured that Ballyboden enjoyed a decisive edge but their scoring dried up as Vinnies launched an impressive comeback.
The catalyst was another duo of sumptuous efforts by Rian McBride with further points from Darach McBride and corner-back Conor Dolan bringing the teams level by the 52nd minute.
Some poor wides at that time undermined their ambitions as St Enda’s regained the lead through an inspirational score by Sean McDonnell and they looked home and hosed as they pushed three clear through Timmy Hammersley and Aidan Mellett.
Vinnies clawed back to within a point following two Tom Connolly frees and after spurning a glorious chance to restore parity deep into added time, it fell to Diarmuid Connolly to ensure extra-time with the final puck of normal time.
Scores by Diarmuid Connolly and Tom Connolly pushed Vins two points ahead but a trip of placed balls from Hammersley and a fine Niall McMorrow point left Boden 0-20 to 1-15 clear by the turnaround in extra-time.
Hammersley, Jack Lambert and Stephen O’Connor ensured that St Enda’s maintained that two-point buffer in the second period that saw Diarmuid Connolly dismissed, but that appeared to count for little when Hetherton was impeded in the large square with time almost up.
However, there was to be one final twist as Tom Connolly’s well-struck shot failed to find its target, giving a dramatic conclusion to a contest of variable quality.