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Ballyboden breakthrough, Dublin veterans glory and Durcan back from Qatar

A look at the talking points from today’s club football decider.

Conal Keaney and Michael Darragh MacAuley celebrate today's win.
Conal Keaney and Michael Darragh MacAuley celebrate today's win.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

1. Ballyboden break through

Today saw Ballyboden St-Enda’s break through to join a select band of Dublin clubs. They reached the heights previously scaled by Kilmacud Crokes, St Vincent’s and UCD to become All-Ireland senior club football champions.

It’s a seminal moment for the Firhouse Road based club. It was their first time gracing Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day after their footballers frustrations in Dublin in recent years and their hurlers failing to climb to the peak of Leinster.

But they hit their stride over the winter and carried that form into the spring. After surviving tough tussles, today’s final saw Ballyboden boss the game and deservedly plunder the spoils.

2. Misery for Castlebar

Where to start in the post-mortem for Castlebar? For the second time in three years and third time in the club’s history, they have come up short in a St Patrick’s Day decider.

This defeat was galling for this group of players as they succumbed to Dublin opposition again after the loss to St Vincent’s in 2014. After claiming scalps in past champions Corofin and Crossmaglen, it will distress them that they froze here and their stirring form deserted them.

Castlebar were a pale shadow of the side that had won last month’s thrilling semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park. The result capped a losing streak for Mayo as the county’s representatives have been defeated all three AIB All-Ireland club football deciders in 2016.

3. All-Ireland senior glory for Keaney and Hiney

This win will be celebrated by everyone associated with Ballyboden but for two players, it will resonate more on a personal level. Conal Keaney (33) and Stephen Hiney (32) are long-serving Dublin stalwarts that have devoted plenty to hurling and football in the capital.

Today they finally shared in an All-Ireland senior triumph that they had long coveted. For a pair of veterans, sticking at the cause secured the desired outcome.

4. McEntee’s next managerial trick

The achievement in steering Ballyboden to an All-Ireland senior crown will rightly see Andy McEntee lauded. Their successes have been a superb feat of management. Today’s pre-match switches were evidence of a shrewd operator as Ballyboden utilised pace to target pressure points in the Castlebar team from the off.

But where will McEntee go from here? A member of famous Meath football stock, attention will inevitably turn to whether the Nobber native will become a future Royal senior boss. Kevin McStay (St Brigid’s to Roscommon) and Stephen Rochford (Corofin to Mayo) are examples of recent All-Ireland winning club bosses that have used such glories as a springboard to a bigger stage.

5. Durcan rewarded for trips from Qatar

Ballyboden’s 32 year-old goalkeeper is still in his first campaign with the club but has been instrumental in their Dublin, Leinster and All-Ireland glories. Paul Durcan’s level of experience and expertise justified his and the club’s decision to keep him involved despite his relocation to Qatar.

Today the Donegal man made a vital save and again exhibited his prowess from kickouts. Victory is a nice addition to Durcan’s All-Ireland collection.

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All-Ireland club football glory for Ballyboden with 13-point win over Castlebar

Na Piarsaigh win Limerick’s first All-Ireland senior club hurling title

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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