'It's been an incredible journey for all of us': Basquel brothers lead the way as Ballyboden claim Dublin glory

'It's been an incredible journey for all of us': Basquel brothers lead the way as Ballyboden claim Dublin glory
Photo: INPHO/Gary Carr

Ballyboden St Enda's 0-15 - 0-9 Thomas Davis

We're not sure exactly how much of this game Michael Darragh Macauley will remember and, in truth, that shouldn't bother the Dublin great too much.

For long spells, until the last 20 minutes or so when Ballyboden St Enda's brought their greater experience and superior quality to bear and closed out the game, capturing a fourth Dublin SFC title, it was a bit of a grueller.

The big hit that led to an apparent concussion and the 50th-minute withdrawal of Dublin and 'Boden midfielder Macauley, and the stitches that lion-heart defender Robbie McDaid required to close a gash beneath his eye, summed up pretty accurately the exchanges.

That's not to suggest it was dirty or mean spirited - the referee didn't book anybody - rather, it was one of those robust, industrial afternoons between two neighbouring clubs thrown into a bear pit to fight over a football and a title.

The craft and scoring power of 'Boden, All-Ireland champions just three years ago, would eventually settle it in front of a relatively low crowd of just over 5,000. They led throughout though were still only three points clear approaching the final quarter-hour when they provided a strong kick for home and a series of points that Thomas Davis couldn't counter.

The Basquel brothers, Colm and Ryan, along with rising star forward Ross McGarry did the bulk of the scoring, weighing in with 0-13 between them, and contributing five-star individual displays. Robbie McDaid marshalled a defence that conceded just four points from play while Declan O'Mahony, the old warhorse in 'Boden's midfield, got through a ton of good work next to the industrious, Macauley.

"It's a brilliant feeling, any championship you win is always an incredible feeling but to do it with this bunch of players, it's huge," said Ballyboden boss Anthony Rainbow, the former Kildare All-Star. "We've been through a lot over the last few years and it's been an incredible journey for all of us."

The Firhouse Road side looked to be in need of a shot of adrenaline when Rainbow took over for 2018, having failed to regain the Dublin title in 2016 or 2017. They didn't do it in 2018 either but they've shown the mark of champions throughout this year's campaign.

"There is a level of expectation in the club but it's important you take control of those expectations as well and try not to look too far into them," said Rainbow. "I think we've done that perfectly well this year."

It helps to have so much rising talent coming through, to mix with their established stars. Macualey's credentials are well established while McDaid and both Basquel brothers played for Dublin in this year's National League. McGarry was on the Dublin team that lost the All-Ireland U-20 final to Cork in August so it's no surprise their already favourites for the Leinster title.

"It's their experience and the habit of winning those types of games and also just the breadth of the panel they have, compared to us," shrugged Thomas Davis manager Paul Kelly. "We have a few experienced guys, Dublin U21s, Dublin minors, but not the same breadth that they have."

Kelly's son, Oisin, is a former Dublin underage player and a big talent in the club but was forced off early on with a hamstring injury. On reflection, it summed up a day that never really got going for Thomas Davis. Still, it's been a remarkable two seasons for the Kiltipper Road outfit considering they were essentially relegated to the B championship in Dublin for 2018. They won that championship to gain promotion to the top tier this year and with 20 minutes to go in the final were still there slugging it out, even if they rarely looked like actually winning.

They will wince at their low return in the first-half, just two points for the half-hour as they trailed 0-7 to 0-2 at the break. Only one of those Thomas Davis points came from play from David Keogh, albeit a mighty fine spinning kick off the outside of his right boot from distance.

Thomas Davis could have done with a Basquel of their own but they hadn't, 'Boden had them both and Colm and Ryan kicked five of their seven first-half points. The duo were to the fore in the last 20 minutes too when they formed part of a high press on the Thomas Davis kick-out and turned over possession time after time to set up a series of scoring chances.

'Boden kicked six second-half wides but took enough of their chances to pull ominously clear, seven clear at one stage. Macauley was gone by the time McGarry scored his last of four points for the day after taking on a pass from Colm Basquel though the team was motoring fine without him.

Scorers for Ballyboden St Enda's: R Basquel (0-6, 3 frees); R McGarry (0-4); C Basquel (0-3, 2f); D O'Mahony, A Flood (0-1 each).

Scorers for Thomas Davis: E Kirby (0-4, 4 frees); D Keogh (0-2); R Deegan (1 free), S McGrath, E O'Toole (0-1 each).

BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S: D Gogan; B Dwan, S Clayton, C Flaherty; D Nelson, R McDaid, A Waters; MD Macauley, D O'Mahony; S Gibbons, C Basquel, D O'Reilly; W Egan, R Basquel, R McGarry.

Subs: A Flood for Gibbons (h/t); T Hayes for Egan (48); B Bobbett for Macauley (50); K Kennedy for McDaid (40-45); Kennedy for Dwan (57); J Holland for Nelson (58); C Keaney for O'Reilly (60).

THOMAS DAVIS: R Crilly; A Shorten, P Quinn, B Kirby; A Fallon, C Murphy, S Kennedy; B Kirby, O Kelly; R Deegan, E Kirby, D Keogh; S McGrath, C Farrelly, E Lambert.

Subs: E O'Toole for Kelly (8); S Reilly for Lambert (h/t); Lambert for B Kirby (55); M Nolan for McGrath (55).

Ref: J Higgins (Na Fianna).

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