Ballyboden St Enda’s came through an epic double-extra time semi-final to reach their Leinster Senior Club Hurling Championship final against Kilkenny’s most successful club side on Sunday, but on arrival found themselves overmatched.
The south Dubliners had stayed within reasonable touching distance of Henry Shefflin’s Ballyhale Shamrocks throughout the first half, but the arrival of harsh weather at Netwatch Dr Cullen Park in Carlow seemed to result in their downfall.
Adrian Mullen had lashed Ballyhale’s first goal after just eight minutes, but what followed was a period in which the men in blue and white outscored their illustrious opponents, and began to look a genuine threat.
‘Boden had hit 0-7 to Ballyhale’s 0-3 and tied the contest before TJ Reid and brother Eoin had a dominant pre-half time period that saw them go in leading 1-9 to 0-8.
At that point, while Ballyhale were certainly favourites, ‘Boden’s Colm Basquel was proving a nice foil to Paul Ryan’s frees, and they remained a real threat in the contest.
Sadly, the second half proved to be a bit of a bloodbath for the Dublin champions, who struggled in the deteriorating conditions, and notched only three second half points, whilst conceding more than they did in the first half.
Basquel threatened, but never quite recaptured his fierce semi-final antics, and by the time Mullen hit his second goal of the game, ‘Boden’s Championship run already looked little more than dead in the water.
There are tough lessons to be learnt in Leinster, particularly against the likes of Ballyhale. In the long term, perhaps ‘Boden’s harsh experience in this final will stand to them as they look to add their name to Cuala’s recent double and 1979 winners Crumlin as the only ever Dublin winners of the Leinster Senior Club Hurling Championship.
“I won’t look for excuses,” manager Joe Fortune said after the game.
“They were by far the better team on the day. Especially in the second half. They came out on top.
“We have had a serious journey this year. There’s a lot of people who wrote that team off over the last couple of years.
“Look, they’ve given everything! Everything I’ve asked them to do. Just on the day itself, Ballyhale were that bit better.
“That wind changed. When we came back out in the second half, I couldn’t believe it. There was a gale blowing there and look, small little things like that can drive the other team on.
“But I’m not going to look for excuses today. I don’t do that with any team that I’ve looked after. It’s always the better team on the day that will win it.
“From an outsiders perspective, it might have looked like a poor showing at times.
“We kept at it and just came up against a team on the day that everything seemed to go for them. They kept going until the very end.
“I just want to make clear again that I can’t commend them enough for what they’ve done this year for me.
“Winning a county title is hard enough to do and just coming back in and getting a good run in Leinster – those lads will be devastated now.”
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS: Dean Mason; Brian Butler, Joey Holden, Darren Mullen; Evan Shefflin (0-01), Michael Fennelly (0-01), Richie Reid; Conor Walsh, Ronan Corcoran; Adrian Mullen (2-1), TJ Reid (0-9, 0-8f), Brian Cody; Eoin Reid (0-3), Colin Fennelly (0-2), Eoin Cody (0-3). Subs: Gavin Butler for Walsh (39), Mark Aylward (0-1) for Brian Cody (45), Joey Cuddihy for Eoin Reid (54), Paddy Mullen for Corcoran (57), Kevin Mullen for Butler (57).
BALLYBODEN ST. ENDA’S: Gary Maguire; David O’Connor, Luke Corcoran, James Madden; Simon Lambert, David Curtin, Dean Curran; Shane Durkin (0-1), Stephen O’Connor; Conal Keaney, Conor Dooley, Niall McMorrow (0-1); Aidan Mellett, Colm Basquel (0-2), Paul Ryan (0-5, 4f). Subs: Niall Ryan (0-2) for Dooley (30+2), Paul Doherty for Mellett (38), Finn McGarry for Curran (47), Conor McCormack for David O’Connor (49), Malachy Travers for Stephen O’Connor (56).
REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).