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'The last couple of years we didn’t turn it on': Ballyboden hoping to follow in Cuala's footsteps

The seven-time Dublin champions have yet to lift a Leinster title.

Ballyboden's Conor Dooley at the AIB Leinster GAA Club Hurling Finals launch.
Ballyboden's Conor Dooley at the AIB Leinster GAA Club Hurling Finals launch.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

BACK IN 2007, Ballyboden St Enda’s won the first Dublin hurling crown in their history and went on to reach the Leinster final where they lost to Birr by a single point.

Since then, the south Dublin club have racked up a further six county titles but failed to even reach another provincial decider.

It was a record that didn’t look so bad until Cuala arrived out of the county in 2016 and became the first Dublin side since Crumlin in 1979 to lift the Leinster title.

“It’s definitely been mentioned,” forward Conor Dooley says about their provincial record.

“Look, there’s a lot of fellas there with a lot of experience in Leinster and they want to accomplish what they haven’t, what they fell short of.

“So hopefully the experience they had in the past will help us get over the line on Sunday week. Look I’d say the lads will be well prepared. And hopefully we get the result they didn’t get before.

“We were well aware of the lads we have in the club. We know the potential we have with the players. Unfortunately just the last couple of years, we didn’t turn it on.

“I don’t know if that was lads putting their priorities elsewhere. But this year, we just want to give it everything and it’s worked out so far. I think our hurling has improved a lot over the last couple of years.

“So I think that’s reflective in the training we’ve done.”

Collie Basquel scores a goal Collie Basquel scores a goal against Coolderry in the semi-final. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The Dalkey side, of course, went on to string together back-to-back All-Irelands, setting a new benchmark for clubs who emerge from the capital.

“Cuala have definitely given Dublin hurling a lift so hopefully we’ll get more respect because of that. But I can’t really say too much. I wasn’t part of the team years ago that were winning county titles for fun.

“So it’s new enough for me. Please God we just push on and get over the line.

“(Cuala) represented Dublin brilliantly,” continues Dooley. “They’re an exemplary outfit. They put in a lot of training and they showed how the hard work pays off.

“They showed that anyone is capable of reaching the top once you put the hard work in. We’ve seen them play, we’ve assessed them, we’ve played them.

“Happily enough we beat them in the championship so we’re looking to just push on and get a result (against Ballyhale).”

On Sunday, Ballyboden will line out in their first provincial final in 11 years. The opponents are formidable – Henry Shefflin’s Ballyhale Shamrocks who are the most decorated club in Leinster. 

They boast star names such as Michael and Colin Fennelly, TJ Reid and Joey Holden, while youngsters such as Evan Shefflin, Adrian Mullen, Brian and Eoin Cody have shown immense potential so far in their campaign.

“We’re expecting a good battle. We know the experience they have on and off the field. We’re under no illusions. They’re an experienced outfit. They’ve played at the top level at club and county.

Joe Fortune celebrates at the final whistle Joe Fortune celebrates at the final whistle after beating Coolderry. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“So look, we’ll go out and give it a good bash. We’ll throw everything we can at them. And hopefully it will get us over the line.”

Much of Ballyboden’s success has been put down to manager Joe Fortune, who Dooley is full of praise for.

“He’s honest. He trusts the lads. He wouldn’t ask you to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. It’s a case where a lot of lads have dealt with him at underage and with colleges.

“So he’s a new face in the club but he’s not a new face to a lot of lads in the team.”

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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