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Ballyboden in control as it’s third time unlucky for Kilmacud

Veteran Conal Keaney to the fore as title returns to Firhouse Road after five years

Ballyboden celebrate with the trophy after beating Kilmacud Crokes. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Ballyboden St Enda’s 2-15 Kilmacud Crokes 1-15

Kilmacud’s run of hard luck in Dublin county finals continued on its unyielding course with a third successive  defeat in Sunday’s replay at Parnell Park. Ballyboden were the more consistent side and with the match in the balance in injury-time at 2-13 to 1-15, they finished the stronger, sending on Dublin footballer Colm Basquel and he obliged with the last point of the match after Paul Ryan had stretched the lead to two.

It was a great win for a club, which must have felt its title winning days were unlikely to be revisited, having won six in seven years during a sequence that ended in 2013. Their veterans, including Ryan and especially Conal Keaney with four points from play, played big roles in the success.

“Ah, Keaney is just a special talent,” said winning coach Joe Fortune. “I got a call from him – I had a little girl on Tuesday, a baby girl – and Keaney is the first one to text and he said ‘I know the performance level wasn’t good enough the last day. We’ll win it this week.’

“And he’s an immense character to deal with. There’s a lot of guys that are there that are pure talent. But Keaney is just a special guy to deal with.”

The contest arguably turned in the 26th minute when Marc Howard, Crokes’ influential full forward was chopped down for a penalty at the end of an electric run at the Boden defence – and played no further part in proceedings, going off with what looked like a serious injury – it was feared afterwards that he might have injured his cruciate.

Shane Durkin was shown a yellow card and to make bad worse for Kilmacud, Oisín O’Rorke – pressed into free taking service on Howard’s withdrawal – shot weakly and Gary Maguire saved. O’Rorke made amends with a powerful few minutes before half-time, shooting three points and finishing a goal just before the break to push Kilmacud into a 1-9 to 1-7 lead.

It didn’t last long after the re-start and trailing by a point, 1-9 to 1-10, Paul Ryan drilled a 20-metre free into the Kilmacud net with most people assuming he’d take the handy equalizer. From then on, Balyboden were never headed.

Kilmacud manager Anthony Daly was still unhappy about the first-half incident, as he had been at the time, but acknowledged that his side had lost to the better team.

“Another tough, titanic battle but we came out the wrong end of it. I suppose overall they were slightly the better team on the day. A few more of their big players stood up from last week and probably got them over the line.

“Then there was the penalty. I’m sorry for Marc Howard; I think his ACL might be gone. Hard to believe that there wasn’t another card than a yellow one. Look I wouldn’t take it off Boden. They really stood up both days but I’d be proud of the boys.”

Kilmacud hadn’t helped themselves by giving away frees at either end of the field but they undoubtedly missed Howard and three of their influential veterans, Niall Corcoran, Ryan O’Dwyer and Ross O’Carroll – the latter two very prominent the previous week – were replaced during the third quarter.

Howard got the first point of the match within 30 seconds but almost immediately Conor McCormack was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net at the end of an enterprising move. It was a livelier match than the draw with a better flow.

Kilmacud resisted all the way to the final whistle but they couldn’t get the goal they probably needed to turn the match around. Ballyboden were sharp and committed in defence. Half way through the second half for instance, a promising attack was brilliantly cut out by Dean Curran and Paul Doherty ended up scoring at the other end for a four-point lead, 2-12 to 1-11.

Although the margin was reduced to the minimum, the gap would never closed.

Ballyboden now go on, hoping to defend the All-Ireland title won for Dublin for the past two years by Cuala, and will play Westmeath champions Clonkill in Parnell Park next Sunday.

Afterwards Daly was asked about the mounting speculation that he would appointed the next Dublin manager, resuming a position he held between 2009 and ’14.

“I don’t know anything about that lads. I’m just trying to process what’s after happening there now.”

BALLYBODEN: G Maguire; S Durkin, L Corcoran, D O’Connor;  D Curran, S Lambert, J Madden; N McMorrow, D Curtin; N Ryan, C Keaney (0-4), C Dooley; A Mellett (0-2), C McCormack (1-1), P Ryan (1-5, goal and four frees, one line ball). Subs: P Doherty (0-1) for N Ryan (34 mins), S O’Connor for Curtin (half-time), J Roche (0-1) for Dooley (51 mins), M Travers for Lambert (55 mins), C Basquel (0-1) for McCormack (59 mins).

 KILMACUD: M Collins; B O’Carroll, C MacGabhann (0-1, free), N Corcoran; D Kelly, R O’Dwyer, R O’Carroll; L McMullan, F Whitely (0-1); S McGrath, C Conway (0-1), S Veale;  R Hayes (0-1), M Howard (0-3, two frees), O O’Rorke (1-7, five points frees). Subs: A Considine (0-1) for Howard (25 mins), J Clinton for Corcoran (36 mins), D Jones for O’Dwyer (39 mins), D Butler for R O’Carroll (46 mins).

 Referee: Jason ó Buachalla (Setanta).