Ballyboden's Michael Darragh McAuley in possession. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
unique situation

'Things have been difficult': How Ballyboden got by with their manager in lockdown Kildare

Anthony Rainbow had to watch Sunday’s Dublin SFC quarter-final on a live stream due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

AN STRANGE YEAR became even more unusual for Ballyboden St Enda’s when Kildare went into lockdown at the start of August.

It precluded manager Anthony Rainbow from leaving his native county to look after matters with his team, adding another wrinkle to an already unique situation.

Playing a Dublin SFC quarter-final at Parnell Park behind closed doors was one thing, but Ballyboden had to do so without their manager on the sideline. Rainbow also missed their final game of the group stage two weeks earlier.

“That’s right, he can’t be here,” explained selector Finnian Hyland. “Things have been difficult.

“We talk with each other obviously, you’ve Zoom calls, Whatsapps and all this sort of stuff now these days.”

Instead of attending, he watched the live stream from home like the rest of the Ballyboden supporters. It must have been edge of the seat viewing for Rainbow as his team were pushed all the way by Raheny, who forced extra-time against Ballyboden’s 14 men after scoring the final four points of the game.

‘Boden eventually prevailed with a strong extra-time showing to seal their passage into the last four.

On the day, the reigning Leinster and Dublin champions had their manager in communication with selector Noel Basquel, father of forwards Colm and Ryan.

“We work as a management team,” continued Hyland. “So he’s obviously giving his input and we’re lucky that it’s on live on the Dubs TV stream. If it wasn’t then we’d have a real problem.

anthony-rainbow Kildare legend Anthony Rainbow. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“He’s away in a remote place looking at this and he’s trying to make sense of it and get the information through to Noel Basquel. Noel was taking all the information from him and then trying to get that down to the rest of the management. So we got there.”

Brian O’Regan took charge of team affairs and was the man giving the team talks against Raheny, who they defeated after extra-time yesterday.

O’Regan was recently added to Dessie Farrell’s coaching ticket with Dublin following Paul Clarke’s departure from the set-up. He is considered among the highest-rated coaches in the capital, having worked as Ballyboden’s full-time director of coaching since 2002.

With lockdown restrictions in Kildare set to be lifted today, Ballyboden will have their manager back ahead of the semi-final showdown with St Jude’s the weekend after next.

“Thankfully we’re in the draw for the semi-finals,” added Hyland. “That’s our aim all the way through. We take it game by game. That was a game and a half.

“You have to give great credit to Raheny. They played on Wednesday as well and they’re after coming in and giving us one hell of a game here. Thankfully we’ve got a decent bench, Ciaran O’Reilly came in and scored 1-1.

“He’s been waiting around there for a year, year and a half to get his chance. He probably wouldn’t have got it only for extra-time and injuries. So we’re delighted that we’ve come through here.

“It was a real tough 60 plus 20 minutes. Our backs were up against the wall numerous times and thankfully we came through at the end there. It was really difficult but we’ve come through it.”

Colm Basquel went off injured near the end of the second-half after sustaining a heavy hit, but Ballyboden are optmistic he’ll be fit for the St Jude’s clash in a fortnight.

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