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Boden celebrate a special achievement

THEY are a team cemented in history.

Ballyboden St Enda's, the first Dublin side to win the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship.

They were the superstars of the era. They brought the game to new heights in the county.

Yet they carried their achievements lightly. It was a band without a trumpet.

The group gathered recently to mark the tenth anniversary of that marvellous All-Ireland victory in 2004.

It was as if they had never been away. The memories, and the laughs, soon filled the room.

It was a special time. Something that will live with the squad forever.

"The group had an easy balance," recalls Sinead Ryan. "It had the ideal blend of youth and experience.

"It had strong leaders, plenty of personality and bundles of commitment.

"But we also had a huge amount of fun. And for a team with its fair share of talent, a remarkable lack of ego."

And despite the joyous journey of cherished triumphs and the impressive trophy haul, it's the bread butter nights that Sinead most recalls.

"Surprisingly, the most vivid memory from that time aren't of lifting trophies or celebrating wins. What stands out now are the nights in Old Court.

"We poured blood, sweat and tears into those training sessions. Swampy Old Court gradually became our home away from home, soaking up evening after evening of our lives."

And the show went on, no matter what date was on the calendar.

"Halloween night in 2004 summed it up. We were running drills under a canopy of fireworks.

"We knew that our friends were out doing much more normal things. And I can still remember how cold it was on that night.

"You'd put the ball down for two minutes and it would freeze over!

"Yet the coaches welcomed such conditions! Their message was that a slippy ball meant good preparation.

"We were so focused on our goal that we didn't mind a bit. Episodes like that contributed to our belief that we were in the midst of something special."

Bobby O'Sullivan was one of the selectors. His first impressions of pre-season training in 2004 are still vivid.

The squad were sprinting after tennis balls on a freezing hockey pitch. But Bobby was baffled by the general hum coming from the girls.

Yet Bobby quickly realised he was not only dealing with a passionate and committed group of athletes, but a group of people who really liked spending time together, even if that time was reserved for gruelling training sessions.

One man who would have loved to have been at the reunion was the great Bill Daly.

"Bill was the glue that brought it all together," explains Sinead.

"It is not an overstatement to say that without him, none of this would have happened.

"Easily half the team kicked their very first football in Bill's company.

"That fact was never lost on us, especially on the sad occasion of his funeral this year.

"That day, we wore our jerseys proudly, in memory of the gifts he had given us.

"Bill's approach was simple to sum up. He asked that you tried your hardest and you did it with respect.

"Those times were as close to perfection as you could get. It really felt like magic."