Two in a row is tough to achieve in any competition so anyone who does it deserves credit.
St Vincent’s don’t rest on what they’ve done though they are a club who look to what they can do and this Sunday provides the opportunity to achieve a three in a row. Ballymun Kickhams and St Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh were dismissed in the last two finals, while this time around Ballyboden St Endas await.
Ballyboden have been decent in recent seasons but haven’t captured the Clery Cup since 2009 however this time it’s personal as they meet the team that beat them in the last two semi finals.
Ballyboden's dreams may have been twice shattered by St Vincents in the last two seasons but there was no cowering by the Firhouse Road side when it became apparent they were to meet again. Hurling county medallist and wing back Stephen O’Connor who has impressed in their run so far said “we can’t wait for the county final” following last Sunday’s win over Clontarf. O’Connor showed no fear of the Leinster champions saying “hopefully we get another crack at Vincents”.
Given their swashbuckling style, Tommy Conroy's side are bound to leave themselves open at times. They conceded four goals in two games against Lucan and Pillar Caffery’s Na Fianna. The positives far outweigh the negatives though and their ability to get scores from anywhere and anyone has seen them win comfortably in their last two games.
Diarmuid Connolly looked like he was floating when kicking points of either foot, against Na Fianna while Ruairi Tranor, Gavin Burke and Shane Carthy all contributed. Joe Feeney has made an impact off the bench also with a goal in the quarter final and three points in the semi. As always, giving away frees is an exercise in folly against Vincents, given Mossie Quinn's Dan Carter like radar and Connolly’s ability to kick over from standing as well as moving positions.
Despite all what the Northsiders have going for them, Ballyboden St Endas also have many reasons to be cheerful. Manager Andy McEntee and his selectors could do worse things this week than watching back how Corofin dismantled the then All Ireland champions last season.
Boden share many abilities with the Galway champions including the ability to move the ball fast with the help of a strong mobile and skilful back six. If that’s a battle they are losing, Donegal’s finest Paul Durcan can lump the ball into the opposition half where Michael Daragh Mc Auley and Declan O’Mahony are match for any midfield. Even if that opposition contains the calibre of Shane Carthy , presuming Eamon Fennell doesn’t return from injury and Daithi Murphy.
Wing backs Stephen O’Connor and Darren O’Reilly like to launch Tomás O’Se style raids forward as does dashing centre back Daragh Nelson while full back Stephen Hiney even gets in on the act scoring a point against Clontarf. The question is though, to stop the Vincents waves do the Boden backs have to stay within their own 65 or will the way the opposition play allow them to get forward?
No defence likes being run at and that’s where David “Dotsy” O’Callaghan comes in for Ballyboden, The former St Marks forward who has played football for Dublin in the past will disturb any defence with his direct running and ability to off load to those in good positions. It’s tempting to start Dotsy, but so far his impacts have all been made off the bench for a team that’s accounted for star studded Kilmacud Crokes, the Brogan led St Oliver Plunketts Eohhan Ruadh and ultra fit Jack Mc Caffery inspired Clontarf in recent weeks. No one can say they haven’t been tested.
Some may write off the win over Clontarf however it must be remembered that they played the second period with 14 men following the sending off of Michael Daragh MacAuley late in the first half.
Ger Brennan admitted after their semi final win, that Vincents haven’t played at their best so far admitting the concession of goal chances remains a worry. Goals haven’t been in plentiful supply for Boden with none in the semi final and one each against Plunketts and Kilmacud Crokes. Colm Basquel scoring against Plunketts and Andrew Kerin netting a penalty late on against Kilmacud.
St Vincents deserve to be favourites given what they’ve done in recent seasons but Ballyboden have travelled the hard road to final and look set up to threaten the champions. Throw in is at 4pm this Sunday in Parnell Park.
There will be update on Off the Ball on Sunday's show.