AHL 1 vs St. Vincent's
Sunday, 24th February 2019

Result: 1 13 to 0 06

Arise Ballycahill and take your place among the nations of the earth

With a quarter of this Sunday morning opening game of the 2019 Senior Hurling League Division 1 remaining, shouts of ‘up Ballycahill’ could be heard among the sizeable home crowd. These enthusiastic utterances had little or nothing to do with what was happening on the field of play. They had more to do with what might happen in Semple stadium when a clash of two of the weaker hurling counties would unfold in the afternoon. They were perhaps acting as a ‘warmer-upper’ for Thurles. The St. Vincents support held their thoughts in silence with their side bizarrely, yet to score. That said, Boden’s tally of 1.08 was less than impressive given the quality of the HQ sod and the fine dry conditions.

The opening salvos were fiercely competitive with Vincents playing into the teeth of a biting south-east wind from the scoreboard to the Firhouse gate in direction. The ball barely moved out of the Boden defensive area for the first eight or nine minutes, prompting one Boden regular to do a check on the compliment of ‘his’ players. Vincents owned the possession, but with the difficulty of the wind conditions, coupled by teak-tough Boden defending, the scoring drew a blank for both sides. When the deadlock was broken, it was Boden’s Paul Doherty who profited from a broken ball to fire over from fifty metres. Niall McMorrow looked to be ‘flying it’ and his speedy reaction to a Vincents bat into space led to a doubling of the home tally. Back in defence, Shane Durkin showed yet again why he seems to have that extra fraction of a second of time to do what he does best. Others to shine in this largely defence dominated game were David Curtin and captain Simon Lambert. Doherty was again the ‘go-to’ man when he out-fought the Vincent’s defence and layed-off a diagonal pass to the path of James Roche. His rifled shot left the Vincent’s goalman with no chance of batting the ball to safety. 1.03 to no score.

Vincent’s came back into the game with a five-minute spell of possession. One of their best opportunities fell to mid-field man Mark O’Keeffe. His shot from the spectator rail seemed to have the legs, but in a held-up semi-gale, the ball failed to find the target. Boden’s Conor Dooley seemed to be warming up to the challenge, and his general work-rate was rewarded when he added his name to the score-sheet with a pointed free. Half-time had the score at 1.04 to no score.

With the home crowd expecting a real second-half fight-back from the St. Vincents side, Boden took the game to them from the throw-in. Enter the real power of Conor Dooley. The scores came quickly with the ‘big-man’ bagging three of the first four second-half scores. His first was a beauty into the teeth of the wind, followed by a second after the quality work-rate of Durkin. In between James Roche finished one of the best moves of the game with Niall Ryan providing the ideal pass into space. Vincent’s Conor Burke provided a modicum of relief for the Marino men with Vincent’s opening score. This was quickly followed by three more Vincent’s points, the best of them from Ronan Fallon. With ten minutes left, the score stood at 1.08 to 0.04. Dooley regained his command of his patch of the field and added to Boden’s tally with four more points, three of them from the place-ball. Roche was now forming a fine relationship with the ‘big-man’ and he was the provider for Dooley from play. Niall Ryan added his trade-mark score with a mazy run and a ‘shoveller’ over the Vincent’s crossbar. Late substitute Sean McDonnell showed some ‘on-the-ball maturity’ to point a ‘hook’ high over the Vincent’s crossbar.

Arguably, Dooley was Boden’s MVP, but let there be no doubt that this was a team effort with perhaps defenders earning the bulk of the plaudits.

Joe Fortune and his team will be well satisfied by this opening performance, particularly the solid work-rate and support play. Into the second half, Boden found their lay-offs better and any neutrals in the crowd will not be shy about ‘teeing’ them up for the league and maybe more!

Boden lined out with Gary Maguire, James Madden, Luke Corcoran, Cian Mellett, Shane Durkin, Simon Lambert, Niall McMorrow, David O’Connor, Sean McDonnell, Rob Leddy, Jamie Desmond, Dean Curran, Finn McGarry, Niall Ryan, David Curtin, James Roche, Paul Doherty, Eoghan O’Neill, Conor Dooley, Aiden Mellett.

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