Ballyboden veterans defied critics, says Keaney

Veteran Ballyboden St Enda’s star Conal Keaney has claimed that even some of their own club members wondered if the team was over the hill.

Ballyboden veterans defied critics, says Keaney

By Paul Keane

Veteran Ballyboden St Enda’s star Conal Keaney has claimed that even some of their own club members wondered if the team was over the hill.

County attacker Keaney, 36, powered ’Boden to the Dublin hurling title, their first since 2013, and they’ll return to duty on Sunday in the AIB Leinster club SHC against Clonkill.

Keaney was among seven players involved in the 2007 Leinster club final who featured in last Sunday’s county final replay win over Kilmacud Crokes. It looked as though their golden age might have concluded in 2013, when ’Boden won a sixth Dublin title in seven seasons, but five years on they’re still going strong.

“It’s probably a little bit sweeter, because I’m older and I understand the significance of it and there’s probably not going to be too many more of them,” said Keaney.

“Also it’s a little bit sweeter because people wrote us off. People were saying we were too old and that there were too many young lads that weren’t good enough in the club.

“That’s been going on the last three or four years. Even lads in the club were debating that, but we knew this team was good enough and that the younger lads were good enough.

“You see Luke [Corcoran] and Aidan [Mellett], you wouldn’t get any better than them and they can’t make the Dublin team. There’s something not right with that, but I think going forward they’ll certainly be involved in any Dublin setup.”

Keaney was at his best last Sunday when scoring four points from play in Ballyboden’s county final replay win over Kilmacud Crokes. It was his seventh Dublin hurling title success and he’s keen to push on in Leinster now.

Their provincial record is poor since that Leinster final defeat to Birr in 2007, losing six of the seven games they’ve played outside of Dublin since.

“Cuala have been the yardstick for the last number of years. We have to do Dublin justice now,” said Keaney, who won an All-Ireland club football medal with Ballyboden in 2016.

“It’s not good enough to go and get beaten in the first round of Leinster. Winning [Dublin] is great. It’s great for the club, but it’s not great for us. Winning another Dublin, what does that really mean? Okay, it means a lot, but you want to go on and compete in Leinster and in All-Irelands, because Cuala did it and you have to do Dublin hurling justice. We have to show that Dublin hurling is up there with the best.”

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