Football bonus point for Conal Keaney

A third county football final? It wasn’t supposed to be like this but Conal Keaney isn’t complaining.

Football bonus point for Conal Keaney

Having turned 33 in September, hurling was going to be the extent of his 2015 season for Ballyboden St Enda’s and Dublin.

Hauling five Leinster SFC titles in six seasons and a 2009 county SFC medal, he’s had quite the football career but had chosen to park it.

“This year I was just going to give the hurling a go and rest the body because it had been a long year. I’ve my own business (CP Adventure) and two kids and was never really at home but you get back into the thick of things, get a win under your belt. To be straight up, six or seven of us were hurling during the year and we were always of the mind that after the county we’d go back and go hurling with the club and if it didn’t suit us we weren’t going to play football.

“But it’s just the way things turned out. Speaking for myself, it was a relatively bad year with the hurlers and playing football was like a break from hurling.

“We all just decided to throw our lot in with the football and then it just so happened that we were beaten in the hurling.

“The team were disappointed to lose to Vincent’s in the semi-final last year. We had our chances to beat them on the night but didn’t take them.

“It’s great to be back in a final but it won’t mean much unless we win it. It’s no good just saying ‘we put it up to Vincent’s’. This team is more than that.”

Currently busy in expanding his business to bike rental in the Phoenix Park (twitter: @bikesinthepark), Keaney hasn’t yet made his mind up about continuing with Ger Cunningham’s hurlers next season.

“I haven’t got a break since Dublin were finished. I haven’t thought about it too much and haven’t spoken to Ger too much about it.

“Whenever the football is finished, I’ll think more about what’s best for Dublin hurling rather than what’s best for me. This season was disappointing for Dublin and me personally so it doesn’t get any easier the older you get.” When David O’Callaghan moved to Ballyboden from St Mark’s at the start of the year it was for hurling purposes but now Keaney’s county team-mate finds himself 60 minutes away from a first senior county title.

In each of the club’s last two games, O’Callaghan has been sprung from the sideline to score vital points. “I don’t think he wants the cameo roles anymore but Dotsy is a great footballer and was great under Pillar back in the day and didn’t get enough runs back then. He’s a great option and he’s always made a great impact especially the last weekend again when he kicked a free and a score. What else could you want from a lad who comes on for 10 minutes.”

Ballyboden’s significant physical presence is a trump card even in the face of such formidable opposition as the reigning champions.

“There are still a few auld lads hanging around but there’s balance too. I don’t think we’ve really played well apart from the Kilmacud game.

We haven’t performed as well as we should have since then. The forward unit has to perform better because a lot of our scores are coming from frees and we haven’t been creating goal chances. We’ll be working on that and we know we have to get goals to beat Vincent’s.”

The resolve of Ballyboden was substantial in the second half of the semi-final against Clontarf when they had to make do without Michael Darragh Macauley who had been sent off.

“I don’t think we underestimated them but they certainly came with more pace than we were expecting. We knew the influence Jack McCaffrey would have but it was very hard to stop him coming from deep. He set up a lot of their scores and was dangerous.

“The only thing that stood to us on the day was character which has done so all year and over the years. We kept going and kept grinding it out. I think this team feels that if we’re in with a shout with 10 minutes to go we’ll always win. We’ve proved over the years that we don’t know when we’re beaten.”

Dublin SFC final: St Vincent’s v Ballyboden St Endas, Parnell Park 4pm

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