St Oliver Plunkett’s/Er Vs Ballyboden St Enda’s : Match Report

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St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER 2-9 – 0-13 Ballyboden/St Enda’s

It’s not often that four former national “Player of the Year” winners play in the same match, let alone in the first round of a county championship. Given the nature of the Dublin Senior Championship, however, that’s exactly what happened in Parnell Park yesterday evening.

Under respective new management, the two teams appeared to set up with very different styles and it became clear from early on, that the team who could force the game to be played on there terms, would more than likely come out on top.

Ballyboden started far better of the two. Racing into a 4 point lead with points from Conal Keaney, Darragh Nelson and Ryan Basquel.

Plunkett’s struggled to get going early on, with Boden’s Tom Hannifin playing as a sweeper very close to Bernard Brogan and stopping any ball being played in front of him.

Its worth noting that during these first 10 minutes, Boden got their kick outs off early and attacked immediately from these restarts, a key element in breaking down the Plunkett’s rear guard.

Plunketts on the other hand, delayed all of their kick outs before playing them long to midfield where Boden were dominant on breaks.

Plunketts finally got going when, what would be considered a speculative ball had it not been aimed at Bernard Brogan, was launched into the Boden square. Brogan palmed the ball perfectly to Leigh Herron who finished into an open net.

Brogan did well to score two points in the next six minutes, playing around the sweeper and gaining possession near the end line and turning inside his man before finishing.

Along with another solitary point from Herron, Plunketts could count themselves lucky to have been so close in the opening half.

Boden seemed to be able to bridge the middle third of the field with ease and appeared to have the legs on Plunkett’s in most areas of the field.

Most of Boden’s attacks came down the left wing, where Shane Durkin had the legs over Paul Galvin, and James Brogan was struggling to cope with the amount of runners coming at him.

It was Brogan, however, who made a vital block in injury time of the first half that, which had it led to a goal, would have been a serious blow to Plunkett’s.

Nelson, Molony and the Basquel brothers added points before the half to leave the score 0-10 to 1-4.

During the last few minutes of the first half, a key pattern emerged on kick outs that would hold true for the rest of the match.

There were little or no short or quick kick outs. Rather, both keepers delivered the ball long to midfield. Given that Aran Waters’ younger legs had been a problem for Ross McConnell to this point, this seemed to play into the bigger, stronger McConnell’s hands. McConnell duly obliged and gave an exhibition in fielding in the second half.

Two minutes into the second half, the dynamics of the game changed entirely.

Another long ball into the Boden box, looked like it would be dealt with by the defence, but broke to Bernard Brogan, who was pulled down by Hannifin. Hannifin was black carded and “Nesty” Smyth put the resulting penalty to the roof of the net.

From when Hannifin went off, Ballyboden seemed to lose their shape at the back, sometimes completely so. Nelson and Cathal Flaherty both played sweeper at different stages, but Hannifan’s nous for the position was clearly missed. This left Bernard Brogan one on one, in space, more often than is healthy for any defence. If Smyth had have seen him as he shot wide in the 36 minute, then smart money would suggest it would have been a third Plunkett’s goal.

Boden’s lead gone, paired with Conor Walsh’s powerful running from centre forward meant that Boden could not sit back as they had done in the first half.

I expected Boden to push the tempo of the game and run hard at Plunkett’s. Colm Basquel looked threatening every time he got the ball, but James Brogan and the recently introduced Declan Lally gave an exhibition of how to marshal a player who would most likely have superior pace. They both played the angles well and kept Basquel away from seriously threatening positions.

Keaney showed well in patches but the rest of the Boden attack struggled to make an impact after the break. One point from play in the second half was all they could manage.

Their problems were compounded by their continued policy of playing long, 50/50 balls to midfield where McConnell and Galvin, who had started to come in from the wing and grow more influential, were dominating.

As the half wore on, Plunketts’ old guard began to close the game out. Bernard Brogan was a constant outlet and his three second half points kept Plunkett’s noses in front. Alan Brogan, crucially, was regularly found in his own half back line, blocking up space and linking play.

When Tomás Corrigan landed a monster free in the 52nd minute, you could sense that Plunketts were not going to be beaten.

Boden searched for a late goal, but with 13 of the Plunkett’s team either behind the ball, or goal side of Bodens runners, no genuine chances were created.

In the end Plunkett’s won by playing the game their way. They slowed everything down, worked the ball methodically to their marquee forwards, and marshaled the Boden threat well in their defence.

Had Boden kept up the tempo they set early on, as no doubt other pacey teams will try against Plunkett’s, and continued getting the ball back into play as quickly as possible, they might have been better able to ask questions of them in the final quarter.

Alas, it wasn’t the case and Plunkett’s prevailed to enter the second round draw.

St Oliver Plunketts/ER: S Hawkins, R O’Connor, S Lyons, E Clarke, J Brogan, G Reynolds, D Kelly, R McConnell, C Dunleavy, P Galvin(0-1), C Walsh, D Brogan, G Smith(1-1 goal pen), B Brogan(0-6 3f), L Herron(1-1). A Brogan(for D Brogan 25) D Lally( Reynolds H/T) T Corrigan(0-1, free)(Herron 34) N Walsh(Kelly 47) S O’Connor(C Walsh 57)


Ballyboden St Enda’s: J Kane, B Dwan, S Clayton, T Hannifin, C Flaherty, S O’Connor, S Durkin, MD McAuley, A Waters, R McDaid, D Nelson(0-3), D McCabe, R Basquel(0-2), C Keaney,(0-3 1f) S Molony.(0-3 1f) C Basquel(0-2)(Clayton 17) D O’Reilly(Hannifin 34 black card) J Holland(Waters 48) A Flood(McAuley 50) D O’Mahony(Holland 53)

By Conor Dunne