By Paul Keane
In the run-up to last night’s AIB Leinster club SHC quarter-final, Clonkill manager Kevin O’Brien promised to “put in a performance everyone can be proud of”.
He was speaking in the context of the tragic passing of Annabel Loughlin, the child of club man and former Westmeath hurler Enda Loughlin, and on an emotional occasion his players duly delivered.
They didn’t win but they gave it everything in a classic encounter and forced extra-time with a remarkable display of character in the circumstances.
Brendan Murtagh’s point for Clonkill four minutes into stoppage time forced the extra period but favourites ‘Boden ultimately held out with Paul Ryan’s 0-15 haul proving decisive.
Free-taker Ryan hit 0-4 in extra-time while sub Paul Doherty was also on the mark with 1-2, setting up a semi-final clash with Coolderry on Sunday week.
It was tough on Clonkill for whom Brendan Murtagh hit 0-11 and they started strong in normal time, opening at a frantic pace to run up a 0-6 to 0-2 lead in the first quarter.
Their brand of hungry hurling overwhelmed ‘Boden initially as Anthony Price and Eoin Price, Murtagh and Mark Keegan all made the score-sheet.
Ballyboden eventually found their range to respond with five unanswered points, briefly taking the lead, before Eoin Price levelled it again with a point from way out on the wing.
The back and forth continued and the sides remained level at 0-9 apiece in first-half injury-time when Niall Ryan struck for ‘Boden’s opening goal.
Aidan Mellett created it by forcing a turnover in the Clonkill defence and Conor McCormack eventually fed Ryan who tapped in from close range.
It left Ballyboden 1-9 to 0-10 ahead at half-time but this one always looked like going to the wire and they were level five times throughout the second-half in a frantic affair.
Luke Loughlin’s 43rd minute goal after good work along the left endline by Niall Mitchell left it at 1-11 apiece.
Ballyboden continually took the lead in the closing quarter but Clonkill simply refused to throw in the towel and hit back on each occasion.
Niall McMorrow, a sub for ‘Boden, thought he’d hit the winning point in injury-time but Murtagh’s eighth point of the evening levelled it at 1-17 to 1-17 and forced extra-time.
It was anyone’s guess who was going to win though ‘Boden showed the greater energy in the extra 20 minutes to get the job done.
They fell behind initially but rattled off four points on the trot them to take a lead they would hold onto this time.
There was still time for more drama at the finish when Clonkill, now trailing by six points, scored a goal through Niall Mitchell.
But there was to be no fairytale ending as Doherty struck for ‘Boden’s second goal in the 82nd minute.
Ballyboden St Enda’s scorers: P Ryan 0-15 (0-12f, 0-3 65), P Doherty 1-2, N Ryan 1-1, C Keaney 0-2, A Mellett 0-2, N McMorrow 0-1, J Roche 0-1, S O’Connor 0-1.
Clonkill scorers: B Murtagh 0-11 (0-7f), L Loughlin 1-2, E Price 0-4, N Mitchell 1-0, M Keegan 0-1, A Price 0-1.
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: C O’Donoghue; D Curran, L Corcoran, J Madden; S Durkin, S Lambert, D O’Connor; S O’Connor, F McGarry; C Keaney, C Dooley, N Ryan; A Mellett, C McCormack, P Ryan.
Subs: C Basquel for McCormack 44, P Doherty for Dooley 52, N McMorrow for McGarry 52, J Roche for N Ryan 62, N Ryan for Basquel 70+1, M Travers for Lambert 81, C O’Neill for S O’Connor 81.
CLONKILL: A Mitchell; D Egerton, J Kenny, M McGrath; A McGrath, P Dowdall, L Folan; S Power, C Austin; L Loughlin, M Keegan, A Dowdall; A Price, E Price, B Murtagh.
Subs: N Mitchell for L Folan 9, J Smyth for A Dowdall 44. A Dowdall for A Price e/t, J O’Brien for Power 74, J Fagan for McGrath 75.
Referee: D Hughes (Carlow).