A wonderful and fantastic performance set the scene for the warriors of the Ballinteer senior hurling team to achieve what always looked unachievable, a Senior hurling Championship. 28 years ago the founding members created a club to build a dynasty and foundation that will form a back bone of Dublin GAA and the hurling team today made sure that the club maintained that history that so many others had created.
The men in charge of moulding this team of hurlers into champions were aptly nicknamed the “four wise men”, they at the start of the year took over from where other great hurling men had left off, the manager Sean Lane set the teams sights on silverware. After years of development the feeling among the team was about achieving success but this was helped along the way through the expert coaching and astuteness of Lane’s selectors Liam Byrne, Frank Clabby and Eamonn Lawlor Snr.
The Ballinteer men started off at a frantic pace with Na Fianna looking out of sorts and with careful forward play from Joey Maher, Gavin Byrne, Cathal MacSealaigh and Ferghal Chambers Ballinteer managed to put the scoreline at an impressive 1-4 to 0-0 to leave the Ballinteer faithful fans wondering “just maybe”.
Lest not be forgotten where there is a great forward line there is a solid and hardworking midfield and defence not too far behind, on this day the grandiose James Gilligan and Keith Nolan got to work in erecting the mile high fences which stated “NO ENTRY”. The men were ably helped around the middle with the impressive Kevin Davis lending a hand with some great stick work aided also by the skilful and splendid Ciaran Lane the Ballinteer front eight made sure that any ball that flew out of the defensive trenches was fought for with every little bit of heart the guys had in them.
Going into half time the lads were up by two, 1-7 to 0-8, they knew how far they had come and how easy they might let it slip out of their grasp if they didn’t push on. When in times of deep and robust pressure however comes men of great stature, Ronan Collins, the deputy general of defence up beside his full back and Captain fantastic, Cormac O’Brien, stood firm in the face of Na Fianna and cleared the tide of sliotars away with ease not forgetting the final piece in this full back line jigsaw was the vital Jack Gilligan producing nerves of steel in the face of danger to keep the Mobhi Road men at arm’s length all day long.
The battle for supremacy of the middle flew back and forth and it was up to the gritty nature of the Johns half back line to stake their claim; at the heart of the line was the colossal Ruaidhri Donnelly, aided by the graceful and skilful Colm O’Rian and lest not forget the staggering performance by Fionan Clabby who swept up all before him and pointed magnificently to add to the fantastic performance by the whole team, not forgetting the most important member of any team, the goalkeeper, Denis Flanagan, was the eyes for the backs and kept the magnificent concentration levels up for the guys to keep the Na Fianna forwards at bay and added with the impact of sub Colm Morrissey the team will go down in folklore and the elder statesmen around the streets of Ballinteer will tell tales for years to come of the day that the majestic stick wizards of Ballinteer forayed into the realms of Senior “A” hurling for the first time ever picking up a Senior hurling championship on the way.
Photo Supplied by Brendan Donnelly