But surely their achievement in Parnell Park yesterday must rank as a great day for the underdog.
Claiming only their third county title and first since 2009, this will rank as their most momentous victory yet, attained by downing a three-in-a-row chasing St Vincent’s side with a spectacular opening 15 minute salvo.
Hardly anybody but themselves gave them a chance but here St Vincent’s captain Diarmuid Connolly was not allowed to make any sizeable impact on the game as all of Ballyboden’s leaders stood up and were counted.
Their elder statesmen like Stephen Hiney, Michael Darragh Macauley, Conal Keaney and two-goal Andrew Kerin offered composure and nous while captain Darragh Nelson led by example in the half-back line.
Much will and should be made of Ballyboden’s dash from the outset but they also played the more intelligent football, working in packs and overlapping to great effect.
Breaking in packs, their direct running through the heart of the St Vincent’s defence reaped serious dividends.
The second half for them was all about consolidation. Leading 1-7 to 0-3 at half-time, they scored just twice thereafter – Keaney at the heart of both. It was his purposeful diagonal run which gave Macauley a great option from a free and Michael Concarr pulled him down in the penalty area. Kerin slotted the kick past Michael Savage and Ballyboden’s advantage had grown to 10 points.
“There’s no bad time for a goal but that was a good time,” said Ballyboden manager Andy McEntee. “You come out at the start of the second half and you want to tag on a few scores. We probably missed a few that we should have got but the goal came and Andy is fairly reliable when it comes to penalties in all fairness to him.” Lofting over a point, Keaney then restored the double-digit lead in the 37th minute after Tomás Quinn had sent over a free. The closest St Vincent’s came to beating Paul Durcan came in the 40th minute when the Donegal goalkeeper palmed over a Ruairi Trainor shot. But other than that there were no scares for Ballyboden as all but two of St Vincents’ seven second half points came from dead balls.
Ballyboden did make life tricky for themselves to the extent that their attempts at slowing the game down and recycling the ball inside their own half were clumsy at times. The frees they conceded were predominantly for overcarrying or fouling having been overturned. When the gap was narrowed to four points with five minutes left, the consternation among the fans in the Parnell Park stand was palpable but they had the wherewithal to survive.
Abject would a suitable adjective to sum up St Vincent’s start but then that would take too much away from what Ballyboden achieved in the first quarter. Their movement and shot-taking was much better and they looked hungrier throughout.
Clearly, Ballyboden had done their homework on St Vincents’ electric starts and negated all threats while giving them a taste of the medicine the defending champions had been dishing out in their steamrolling drive to the final.
By the 14th minute, they were 1-5 to 0-0 up. At the Donnycarney church end, Connolly and Quinn’s radar was off but not the Basquels who treated themselves to three points, Ryan bagging a couple of them. The goal was a case of quick reaction. It was Kerin who initiated the score he finished after ballooning an attempt at a point. Com Basquel raced in after it followed by Kerin and the pair combined for the latter to palm to the net.
If St Vincent’s weren’t shellshocked before then they were after it and by the 18th minute Connolly had failed with a third strike at the posts. St Vincent’s eventually opened their account in the 22nd minute through Gavin Burke only for Ballyboden to cancel it out thanks to an Aran Waters shot on the run. Quinn and Trainor added a little respectability to the score-line by half-time but it was Ryan Basquel in stoppage time who added his third point with a thumping kick. Darren O’Reilly also had a rasping drive at the goal blocked by Concarr, the ball spinning out for a 45. Durcan sent the resultant kick wide, Ballyboden’s only one of the half.A small blot on an otherwise immaculate Ballyboden copybook.
A Kerin (2-1, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free); R Basquel (0-3); C Basquel, D O’Reilly, A Waters, C Keaney (0-1 each).
T Quinn (0-6, frees); R Trainor (0-2); G Burke, S Carthy (0-1 each).
P Durcan; S Hiney, S Clayton, S O’Connor; D Nelson, B Dwan, A Waters; MD Macauley, D O’Mahoney; S Gibbons, R Basquel, D O’Reilly; C Basquel, C Keaney, A Kerin.
D McCabe for D O’Mahoney (34); D Davy for R Basquel (blood to FT, 38); R McDaid for S Gibbons (48); D O’Callaghan for C Basquel (49); S Molony for D O’Reilly (51); S Durkin for A Waters (55).
M Savage; M Concarr, J Curley, H Gill; B Egan, G Brennan, N Mullins; D Murphy, S Carthy; G Burke, D Connolly, C Diamond; R Trainor, C Dorney, T Quinn.
K Golden for D Murphy (23); J Feeney for C Dorney (26); C Diamond for G Burke (38); C Wilson for B Egan (51).
B Tierney (O’Dwyer’s)