Huge prize at stake for Ballyboden boys

By William O'Connor

“THERE is a huge prize at stake for both teams,” remarked Ballyboden St Enda’s senior football manager Andy McEntee ahead of this Saturday’s All-Ireland Club Football Championship semi-final in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.

The Firhouse Road side square up to Tipperary and Munster champions Clonmel Commercials in a unique contest as it marks the first time that both clubs have reached this stage of the competition.

Andrew Kerin 1

It may be nine weeks since Boden secured the Leinster crown but manager Andy McEntee is confident that his team can maintain the momentum.

“Preparations have gone well, the team has worked hard and we have no injury concerns. It may be a long lay-off but that’s no excuse – we want to maintain our momentum”.

Clonmel have certainly upset the formbook as they overcame teams like Milltown Malbay from Clare and favourites Nemo Rangers to secure the provincial crown for the first time in 46 years.

Ballyboden Senior team 1

This stage of the competition is also new ground for Boden who did well to clinch the Dublin Championship after beating St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh, Kilmacud Crokes and St Vincent’s in the final.

They went on to beat St Patrick’s from Louth and St Loman’s from Westmeath in Leinster before seeing off Portlaoise in the decider.

Boden’s younger players have certainly made a massive difference this season as they fitted in well with the more experienced players something McEntee acknowledged.

“The younger players have done really well. Aran Waters, Colm Basquel and Shane Clayton have all done really well and a lot of credit must go to the club’s juvenile section who have worked so hard over the year.

“They are very good players, confident lads who have done really well and they bring a new intensity to the game. They have played inter-county with Dublin’s Under 21s and minors so they have good experience.

“They have fitted in well and there is a good age break but to be fair the senior players have been great” he added.

MDMA Boden

Indeed, Boden have plenty of experience with Dublin star Michael Darragh Macauley leading by example along with Declan O’Mahoney at midfield while defenders Stephen Hiney and Darragh Nelson have stood out.

In attack Conal Keaney has put in solid displays partic-ularly in the final 10 minutes while Andrew Kearns has been ever present and was last week named Leinster Club Player of the Year.

“It was a nice bonus for Andrew to pick up the award and it’s great to have some-one of his experience in the dressing room” said Mc-Entee. He is confident and has a good head on him which is important for the team.

“Conal Keaney has plenty of experience and he too had responsibility in the final stages against Portlaoise so hopefully we can get the same performance again.”

Boden take on a Clonmel Commercials outfit that has grown in confidence after beating Nemo Rangers in the Munster Final before seeing off London side Tir Chonaill Gaels in the AII-Ireland semi-final in Ruislip.

They have a strong squad that includes Tipperary intercounty players Michael Quinlivan, Ian Fahy and Seamus Kennedy.

Indeed Quinlivan has been one of the stars for Clonmel in attack and he will have to be watched closely by Stephen Hiney and Company.

Quinlivan registered a goal and three points to help Clonmel beat Nemo including the winning goal while the talented forward was part of the successful Tipperary minor team in 2013.

“Whoever beat Nemo Rangers in Munster fully deserve to be at this stage of the competition,” insisted McEntee.

“They are a good side, they have registered impressive results and have a number of inter-county players in their side. It’s going to be hard to stop them.

“It’s a huge occasion for the players and the club and there is a huge prize at stake. Nobody wants to lose a semi-final. It’s not a nice place to be in” concluded the Boden manager.

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