Ballyboden St Enda’s moved four points clear at the top of the Adult Hurling League Division One table courtesy of an impressive 2-15 to 0-16 victory over Kilmacud Crokes at Silver Park last Wednesday.
With second-place Na Fianna not in action until this Friday – an away clash against Faughs – this was an ideal opportunity for ‘Boden to create further daylight between themselves and the Glasnevin men.
Thanks in no small part to first-half goals from Aiden Mellett and Paul Ryan, the defending champions managed to do just that. Since losing out to Na Fianna by five points (3-13 to 2-11) at St Mobhi Road on May 30, ‘Boden have displayed imperious form in the top-flight.
They entered this contest of the back of four consecutive triumphs – the most recent of which was a home success over local rivals St Jude’s. While Crokes’ 2018 league campaign has been mixed, they did get the better of Na Fianna on July 25.
This moved them into the upper half of the table, and with Fergal Whitely and Mark Howard in fine form, they asked questions of ‘Boden in the early stages of Wednesday’s clash. A Mellett three-pointer helped the visitors to settle, though, and this was followed by a second goal via the ever-reliable Ryan.
The versatile Conor Dooley provided the spade work for much of ‘Boden’s attacking play in the opening period, and he was joined on the scoresheet by Shane Durkin (one of many inter-county stars in their line-up), Paul Doherty and Niall Ryan.
Seanie McGrath and Whitely did find the target for Crokes towards the end of the half, but the hosts found themselves eight points in arrears (2-9 to 0-7) during the interval. This left Anthony Daly’s side with a lot of ground to make up on the resumption – though, as expected, they persevered with their challenge as the action progressed.
McGrath and Michael Roche added a succession of points for the Stillorgan outfit, which allowed them to stay in contention for large spells. However, with Dean Curran and David O’Connor leading the way, a stubborn ‘Boden defence ensured that Gary Maguire’s goal remained unbreached.
The dead-ball accuracy of McGrath reduced the gap to five points in the closing moments, but this was as close as Crokes came to swinging the outcome in their favour.
On Thursday evening at Clonshaugh, St Brigid’s moved into sixth-place by claiming a hard-earned draw (0-17 to 1-14) against Craobh Chiarain. After bringing a three-game losing streak to an end against O’Toole’s in the last round, Brigid’s were hoping to secure their first away win of this year’s campaign.
Facing into a strong breeze in the opening half, Brigid’s opted to run at Chiarain’s whenever the opportunity arose. With Mark Kavanagh offering a strong platform in defence, they created a number of clear-cut goal chances.
Donnacha Ryan, Daire Plunkett and Johnny McGuirk all found themselves in excellent shooting positions but, on each occasion, dependable Craobh netminder Stephen Chester was equal to their efforts.
Although McGuirk, Plunkett and Kevin Callaghan picked off some excellent points, Brigid’s were one point behind – 0-8 to 0-7 – at the midway stage. Brigid’s took the game to their northside counterparts after the restart, as McGuirk, Plunkett, Andrew Dunphy and Ciaran Dolan found the range in clinical fashion.
While McGuirk finished the game as Brigid’s scorer-in-chief (0-8), three points apiece from Plunkett and Callaghan allowed them to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
When the Navan Road men led by four points on the stroke of 50 minutes, they appeared to be on course for their fifth league victory of the year. Craobh responded with a much-needed goal, however, and they eventually dug deep to earn a share of the spoils in a tension-filled finale.
Meanwhile, the old adage of ‘goals win games’ proved true for Lucan Sarsfields at Blunden Drive on Sunday morning. They recorded a 4-11 to 0-16 triumph at the expense of basement side O’Toole’s – who remain two points adrift of Faughs and All-Ireland champions Cuala.