Ballyboden St Enda’s veteran Conal Keaney yesterday hailed the character of his team after they came from a point down entering the final minute of normal time to snatch victory in yesterday’s Leinster Club SFC final.
The dual player and Dublin hurler drew comparisons with their provincial final win over Portlaoise four years ago when it also appeared that they were dead and buried.
“Absolute character — and this team has it. And we showed it before when we won the All-Ireland,” he said.
“Against Portlaoise in the Leinster final in 2015, we were dead and buried and we came back. And we have just done that again.
“They (Éire Óg) didn’t lie down, they kept coming at us and kept coming at us. At half time, we had a strong wind. We thought we were going to get a few scores easy enough, but they kept coming at us. The game was in the balance up to the last few minutes.
“But this team deserves it. They have been training unbelievably hard for the last two years.
For the hurlers, we come in and out of it, you only realise how dedicated to the cause they are when you come back and see the conditioning of them. The amount of data, the detail and statistics they go through, is absolutely incredible. It is more than any other inter-county team. It’s due rewards for them. I am delighted.
Keaney commended the depth of the panel, noting the impact made by substitutes Warren Egan — who came on to score the equaliser at the close of normal time — and Michael Darragh Macauley, who fisted over the final score of the game.
“Credit to him, he (Egan) was playing all year. I came in for him, he didn’t do anything wrong the last day, it just showed balls of steel to go for it, given he missed one earlier on. They’re finishers, not subs.
“This team is all about the collective, not about any individual.
“You saw it there today, in normal circumstances, one of the best footballers (Macauley) we have would have been playing, but he didn’t train and he came on today and made a huge difference.”
Keaney also gave some insight into just how difficult the playing conditions were in MW Hire O’Moore Park.
“It was impossible. Was the pitch playable? That’s a good question. I don’t know. But you couldn’t hop the ball. You hop the ball and it was spilling everywhere. It was like a bar of soap out there. I can’t believe we snuck out in the end.”
Éire Óg manager Joe Murphy commended Ballyboden’s discipline.
“The tackling was ferocious, the discipline. I know in the first half we got two frees from the referee so they were very disciplined in the tackle, we didn’t give too much that way either so, look it, it was always going to be moments, it was going to go to the wire,” he said.