Conal Keaney: We step it up on home stretch

“We’re going to win this,” was Conal Keaney’s emphatic assertion after Ballyboden St Endas’ dramatic All- Ireland semi-final win over Clonmel Commercials.
Conal Keaney: We step it up on home stretch

Dust settled, he reverts to a more diplomatic approach about the club’s chances of lifting the Andy Merrigan Cup tomorrow. “Ah, that was adrenaline,” he smiles about his statement. “Don’t mind that!”

Joking aside, Keaney readily admits Ballyboden always fancy themselves going down the final straight. “I think we’ve been saying it all along, (it’s) nearly our motto without even saying it — getting the games to the last 10 minutes and we’ll win it.

“If you look at all our games — maybe bar the county final — it has gone down to the last 10 minutes, and someone has stepped up from somewhere.

“Dara (Nelson) dug us out of a hole against Clonmel but if you look back, Dotsy (O’Callaghan) dug us out of a hole against Plunketts. There’s been always stepping up when we’ve really needed it. The team is full of leaders, and I hope we need more lads to spring up in the last 10 minutes again on Paddy’s Day but it’s good to know that if it does go down to the last 10 minutes, that there’s someone there to dig us out.”

At this stage, it would almost come as a shock to Keaney and Ballyboden if it didn’t go to the wire. “We might just let it go down to the last 10 minutes anyway,” he laughed.

“I don’t know, it would be great to win by 10 or 20 points, but I’m sure they’d like the same. If it goes down to the last 10 or 15 minutes, we are ready for it, and every game has showed we’ve got more and more experience.”

Keaney envisaged Ballyboden in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day only with hurleys in their hands. He’s spoken before about how the dual players in the club had opted for the smaller ball game over football last year, in the hope it would benefit them, only to see it backfire.

Andy McEntee was only too happy to have them back in the fold when it did.

“I suppose if I was very honest, I would have thought that it would have been hurling that would have come first, and not the football. And we’ve said it all along, four or five of us were primarily hurling with this club, and we just happened to fall back into football when the hurling finished.

“Andy, he’s impossible to say no to... ‘Ah, come down and have a look’, and then all of a sudden, he puts you in full-forward and before you know it, you’re playing! So he’s very hard to say no to, and I’m kinda glad now we went against what we said at the start of the year. It’s working out well and hopefully we get a bit of silverware at the end of it.”

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