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Dooley in fine form

Scorers - Ballyboden St Enda's: C Dooley 3-3 (0-2f), A Flood 1-2 (0-2f), S Molony 0-3, D KIlduff 0-2, D Buckingham, C Flaherty, C Basquel, B McGarry 0-1 each. Na Fianna: C McHugh 1-4 (0-3f), C McKane 0-2, T Foran, K Deeley, N Flannery 0-1 each.

BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S: D Gogan; D McGuinness, S Clayton, R Gillen; D Buckingham, C Flaherty, K Wigglesworth; A Waters, J Madden; S Molony, A Flood, D KIlduff; T Hanifin, C Dooley, C Basquel. Subs: B McGarry for Kilduff (44), B Bobbett for Buckingham (51), S McDonald for Flood (61), S Moran for Molony (63).

NA FIANNA: S Murray; N McKenna, G Farrell, D Kennedy; T Foran, E Mullen, J Ward; R Fenelon, K Deeley; C McKane, C McHugh, J Fitzgibbon; N Flannery, D McGrath, E Caffrey. Subs: J Egan for Kennedy (h-t), S Griffin for Fenelon (41), Fenelon for Flannery (56).

MENTORS - Ballyboden: N Madden, M Masterson, M Fee, B O'Sullivan, N Buckingham. Na Fianna: C O'Reilly, F McGrath, H Gallagher.

REF: G McCormack (Naomh Barrog).

WIDES - Ballyboden: 6(3); NA FIANNA: 10(7).

CONDITIONS: Chilly, but also dry and mild.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Conor Dooley (Ballyboden St Enda's).

A SECOND-HALF hat-trick from Conor Dooley was the icing on the cake for Ballyboden St Enda's at Mobhi Road on Saturday afternoon, as Noel Madden's charges booked their place in the semi-final of the Dublin U21 Football 'A' Championship with an emphatic victory over Na Fianna.

Although he is best known for his small-ball exploits (he was the netminder for the U21 Sky Blues hurlers during their recent provincial campaign), Dooley was a menacing presence on the edge of the square for the southside club.

In an attempt to nullify the threat of Na Fianna's Conor McHugh - the 2014 Cadbury Hero of the Future - Boden opted to deploy nominal corner-forward Tom Hanifin as an extra player in their half-back line.

A coolly-struck free by Boden's Alan Flood opened the scoring six minutes into the contest. Colm Basquel subsequently found the net at the end of a mazy run through the heart of the Na Fianna rearguard, only for referee Gary McCormack to penalise him for over-carrying the ball.

However, this only offered a brief respite to the home team, and on the ten-minute mark, Flood dispatched an unstoppable shot into the bottom right-hand corner of Stephen Murray's goal from a distance of 21 metres.

This was certainly a set-back for Na Fianna, and it was left to the influential McHugh to eventually get their account up and running with a superb point from the right-wing. Darragh Kilduff issued a quick reply for Boden, but when T Foran and Killian Deeley registered back-to-back points, Na Fianna looked like they were getting to grips with their opponents.

It was Boden who built significant momentum at the end of the half, though, and unanswered points by Dooley, Kilduff, Basquel, Dan Buckingham and Cathal Flaherty raised the spirits of their loyal travelling supporters.

Na Fianna posted a badly-needed point from Ciaran McKane in first-half stoppage-time, which meant that they faced into a six-point deficit at the start of the second period. A comeback could not be ruled out for Clive O'Reilly's men on their home patch, but it was Boden who continued to offer the greater attacking potential.

Sam Molony's first point arrived within 60 seconds of the restart, and following Dooley's thunderous 34th-minute three-pointer, Boden's advantage had increased to ten points. Flood free added further to their cushion, but Na Fianna were given a potential lifeline courtesy of Conor McHugh's neat major 38 minutes in.

McKane's second of the tie preceded this score, and despite conceding points to Dooley and Molony, a successful placed-ball effort from McHugh served as a note of caution for Boden.

There was no reason for Boden to panic, however, and a quick-fire 1-1 salvo by Dooley effectively eliminated Na Fianna's chances of a dramatic fight-back.

McHugh and Neil Flannery were on target for Na Fianna heading into the final ten minutes of play, but an excellent team move provided the platform for Dooley to seal his third goal on 53 minutes.

It was a matter of running down the clock at this point, and before McHugh brought his personal tally to 1-4, an eye-catching contribution by substitute Barra McGarry had eased Ballyboden towards a semi-final date with Kilmacud Crokes.


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