Colm Basquel was at the Dunboyne Castle Hotel last Thursday evening for the launch of the Sean Cox charity football game, using his status as a Dublin football star to help promote the event.
As far as anyone outside the Ballyboden club knew, that was as far as Basquel’s talents stretched; a terrific Gaelic footballer with a bright future, as his place in the lineup against Roscommon at Croke Park last summer confirmed. Yet, it turns out that the 22-year-old is also a brilliant hurler.
The reason so few knew about his small-ball skills is that he kept them well under wraps, avoiding competitive games for the last few years and only making his full debut yesterday after calling up boss Joe Fortune when Dublin’s four-in-a-row winning campaign was complete.
Fortune brought Basquel on in a couple of games before starting him against the Offaly champions and, just like Con O’Callaghan’s impact in the 2016 Leinster championship for Cuala, it was worth the wait.
Basquel was simply unstoppable and torched the Coolderry defence with his searing pace whenever he ran at them, ultimately finishing up with 3-3 from play.
He also played a key role in Conal Keaney’s goal late in the first half, won the free that Paul Ryan converted to bring an epic encounter to extra-time and then, right at the death, after nearly 100 minutes and with the scores still tied, won three frees in a row that Ryan converted to settle it.
“I spoke to Collie maybe two months ago after Dublin finished up,” said Ballyboden manager Fortune.
“He actually came out to me and chatted to me one night. He explained to me how much he loves hurling as a player and how he always did the whole way up, but that he’d got a massive opportunity with Jim [Gavin] and with the Dublin senior footballers.
“We set him a target today and today he hit his target. He’s that kind of a player who can be very special at times.”
Asked exactly what that ‘target’ was, Fortune smiled and said: “To score! Not necessarily to be direct or anything, but we just said it on the basis that he has the quality. People talk about other forwards around the country, and Collie’s as good as them.
“Hurling, coming up along, was his number one sport. I just think he needs a little bit of work, he’s a bit raw yet.”
It wasn’t all about Basquel, though, far from it, and for long stretches it looked like Coolderry’s Brian Carroll might snatch the Man of the Match gong.
The ex-Offaly forward scored 2-16 overall yet somehow found himself on the losing side and, to compound his agony, the recipient of a red card.
Carroll, Kevin Brady and goalkeeper Stephen Corcoran were all sent off for red-card offences as a game full of intensity and emotion boiled over in a couple of skirmishes in the closing minutes.
Keaney also walked for a second yellow card, though he had the last laugh, as his team secured a return to the Leinster final alongside Ballyhale Shamrocks on December 2 having lost to Birr way back in 2007. That was Ballyboden’s first season in Leinster, though their record after that campaign, and before this one began, was poor, with just one win from six games.
Perhaps that paltry return is why they’ve dug so deep this season, beating Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin final after a replay and requiring extra-time to see off Clonkill in the Leinster quarter-finals.
It clearly means a lot to Keaney, the veteran Dublin forward, who fought for every ball at Parnell Park as if his life depended on it.
He was gifted a goal late in the first half of normal time when Basquel pressured the Coolderry goalkeeper into a poor clearance that Keaney gobbled up and returned to the net with interest.
It left Ballyboden 3-8 to 0-10 up at half-time, though even at that stage it was clear that this was no ordinary game.
Ballyboden actually scored 2-1 in the opening three minutes, only for Coolderry, the 2011 provincial winners, to respond with six unanswered points.
They fell under ’Boden’s spell again for a period in the third quarter and Basquel hit his second goal — the Dubliners’ fourth — in the 46th minute after a stunning solo run.
However, Coolderry were only getting going and conjured three goals to force extra-time at 4-17 to 3-20. Carroll got the third of those two minutes into stoppage time and they led briefly when captain Kevin Connolly tapped a point over.
However, Basquel drew a foul off Brian Kelly and Ryan, who hit 0-14 in total for Ballyboden, drilled the free over to take it to extra-time.
Carroll got his second goal in extra-time,though it only cancelled out a third from Basquel and they remained tied after the 20 extra minutes.
That meant a further 10 minutes which ’Boden eventually edged, outscoring Coolderry by 0-6 to 1-0 in this period as the red cards flew like confetti.
“It was a thriller from start to finish,” said Coolderry manager Joachim Kelly afterwards. “The best team probably won on the day.”
Scorers for Ballyboden St Enda’s: P. Ryan (0-14, 11 frees, 1 65); C. Basquel (3-3); C. Keaney (1-1); N. Ryan (1-0); P. Doherty (0-3); D. Curtin, S. Durkin, S. O’Connor (0-2 each); A. Mellett (0-1).
Scorers for Coolderry: B. Carroll (2-16, 0-11f); D. Miller, D. Parlon (1-1 each); S. Corcoran (1-0, pen); K. Connolly (0-3), M. Bergin, C. Parlon, W. Malone, M. Corcoran (0-1 each).
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: C. O’Donoghue; J. Madden, L. Corcoran, D. O’Connor; S. Durkin, D. Curran, S. Lambert; D. Curtin, S. O’Connor; A. Mellett, N. McMorrow, N Ryan; C. Keaney, C. Basquel, P. Ryan.
Subs: C. Dooley for N Ryan (41); P. Doherty for Curtin (47); F. McGarry for S. O’Connor (53); M. Travers for Mellett (59). Mellett for Travers (e/t); C. McCormack for Lambert (73); J. Roche for McMorrow.
COOLDERRY: S. Corcoran; S. Connolly, T. Corcoran, S. Burke; B. Teehan, K. Brady, B. Kelly; M. Bergin, D King; C. Molloy, B. Carroll, E. Parlon; K. Connolly, M. Corcoran, D. Miller.
Subs: C. Parlon for M. Corcoran (h/t); J. Brady for Bergin (47), D. Parlon for Miller (47); W. Malone for T. Corcoran (49); Bergin for Kelly (h/t e/t); Miller for Molloy (76).
Ref: J Heffernan (Wexford).