Senior vs St.Lomans Mullingar
Sunday, 22nd November 2015

Result: 1-11 to 0-09


Boden overcome St Loman’s to reach provincial decider

By Shane O’Brien

Ballyboden St Enda’s progressed to their first ever Leinster Senior Football final after a deserved five point victory over Westmeath champions St Loman’s in Cusack Park on Sunday. Sam Malony’s calmly taken first half goal proved decisive and gave Boden a cushion for most of what was a stop-start encounter. Four points apiece from Andrew Kerin and Conal Keaney were equally crucial in a game that was dominated by scores from placed balls. In truth, the game was marred by the performance of whistle-happy referee Fergal Smyth. Smyth gave 51 frees in total and killed the game’s momentum, especially in the second half. The Offaly man was particularly strict with regards to over-carrying and shirt pulling, with every minor infraction being penalised. Smyth also prevented numerous attempts at quick frees by overturning his original decision and throwing the ball in instead. A “bewildered” Ballyboden manager Andy McEntee said that “the game couldn’t be described as physical” and that the refereeing display affected both sides equally. It was Boden who benefited from the referee early on, as they were awarded two frees that were easily dispatched by the ever reliable Kerin to give them the perfect start. St Loman’s replied with a free of their own minutes later, when Westmeath forward John Heslin slotted over. Molony restored Boden’s two point buffer after 10 minutes when he caught a diagonal ball from Colm Basquel and curled over the game’s first point from play. Heslin, however, drew the sides level with two points in quick succession, one from play and one from a soft free. Heslin then turned provider moments later when he found Ken Casey in space and the Offaly forward made no mistake from 20 metres out, giving the home side the lead for the first time. Boden restored parity almost instantly when Keaney converted an easy free after an apparent push on Sam Molony. St Loman’s midfielder Paul Sharry took advantage of some slack Boden marking to tap over an easy score and restore the Mullingar side’s advantage. Andrew Kerin levelled proceedings once more with a well taken free, before Basquel curled over an excellent score from the resulting kickout to give the Dublin side the lead again. Then came two crucial moments in the game. Firstly, Boden ‘keeper Paul Durcan saved superbly from David Windsor after a great St Loman’s move had carved open the usually watertight Boden defence. Within two minutes, Molony had struck for the game’s only goal. Ironically, it was a quickly taken free that led to the goal. Michael Darragh Macauley found Keaney, who unselfishly squared to Molony in space. Molony had the presence of mind to set himself before slamming the ball past two defenders. The goal gave Boden a four point lead when they could easily have found themselves two points behind just moments earlier. But on such fine margins games like this are won and Kerin quickly added to Boden’s lead when he gathered a high ball at the second attempt and curled over to make it double scores. A Heslin free on the stroke of half time, St Loman’s first score in 12 minutes, cut Boden’s lead to four at the break.  

Boden pulled away at the beginning of the second half with three Keaney points (all frees) inside the first four minutes. Heslin responded with a free of his own moments later, but St Loman’s failed to build momentum of any sort in the second half. A 15 minute lull followed Heslin’s point, during which neither team looked remotely like scoring. Heslin ended the lull with another pointed free, but crucially Boden responded in the next passage of play when Macauley fisted over with 10 minutes remaining following a good passing move. St Loman’s never looked like threatening Boden’s six point advantage and another Heslin free with 8 minutes remaining was the best they could muster. Boden’s brilliant defensive organisation, coupled with the astonishing 29 frees awarded by referee Smyth in the second half put paid to any sustained period of pressure on the Boden goal and Boden saw out the game comfortably. St Loman’s corner forward Ken Casey was sent off in stoppage time for an off the ball strike to add insult to injury for St Loman’s. Despite the performance of the referee, Boden always looked the stronger side and their defence, Windsor’s goal chance aside, shackled the St Loman’s forward line. Furthermore, their attack was clinical converting 12 of their 18 scoring chances. Boden captain Darragh Nelson was “delighted” with the side’s display, especially the 10 minutes before and after half time where Boden outscored their opponents 1-6 to two points. The centre back also praised the “perfect reaction” from his team mates following the St Loman’s goal chance. Boden now advance to the Leinster final for the first time in the club’s history. A tricky battle with Portlaois awaits them in two weeks time in Tullamore. The Laois side have won a record seven Leinster titles and 32 Laois County titles.