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Champions ride their luck to eke marginal win over battling Cuala

Ballyboden St Enda's advanced to the semi-finals of the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship after fortuitously overcoming Cuala by the slimmest of margins at O'Toole Park yesterday afternoon.

The holders struggled to make an impression for large chunks of the second-half, accruing to just a solitary score from open play during that period but Finn McGarry's point five minutes from time proved enough for Boden to survive into the last four.

That such a tight finale would ensue seemed highly dubious as St Enda's largely controlled affairs from the opening whistle despite falling behind to a 2nd minute score from Cian Waldron.

Paul Ryan levelled matters soon after with the Dublin attacker impressing in the opening half as he accrued seven points including a brace of excellent points from play.

However, the contest's most influential player was Shane Durkin, who was handed either by chance or design the freedom of the field to launch wave after wave of attacks.

A wonderful long-range point by Durkin in the 7th minute cancelled out Waldron's second score of the half before Ballyboden moved three points clear following successive score from Niall McMorrow, David Curtin and Ryan.

Despite Cuala responding through two placed balls by Barry Connolly, St Enda's finished the half in the ascendancy with McMorrow, Ryan and Curtin adding to his personal tallies to leave Cuala trailing by 0-12 to 0-6 by half-time.

In marked similarity to their previous championship clash against Kilmacud Crokes, Ballyboden struggled hugely in the second-half to influence proceedings with Cuala seizing the initiative through scores by substitute Niall Carthy and Connolly in the opening seven minutes of the half.

The Dalkey outfit excelled defensively during this period with Cian O'Callaghan immense at full-back and they reduced their deficit to the bare minimum by the end of the third quarter following scores from Waldron, Connolly and Paul Butler.

A Ryan free in the 47th minute helped steady the ship for the holders but with Carthy and Sean Moran dominating around the middle third, it was only the defensive solidity of Stephen Hiney, Durkin and Conor Robinson that ensured their narrow advantage.

A great solo score by Moran in the 50th minute maintained Cuala's momentum but when Oisin Gough was harshly penalised a minute later, Ryan calmly slotted the resultant free to keep Cuala at arm's length.

McGarry added Ballyboden's first point from play of the half in the 55th minute and it proved pivotal despite late scores from Connolly and Moran with Cuala snatching at late chances to force extra-time.

Scorers - Ballyboden St Enda's: P Ryan 0-9 (6f, 1 '65), D Curtin, N McMorrow 0-2 each, S Durkin, F McGarry 0-1 each. Cuala: B Connolly 0-6 (5f), C Waldron 0-3, S Moran, P Butler 0-2, N Carthy 0-1.

Ballyboden St Enda's: G Maguire; J Msdden, S Hiney, C Robinson; S Durkin, S O'Connor, J Desmond; N McMorrow, F McGarry; S Lambert, D Curtin, D O'Connor; P Ryan, C Keaney, G Corrigan. Subs: D Curran for Desmond (40), C O'Neill for Lambert (44), C McCormack for Corrigan (50), J Roche for McGarry (55), E O'Neill for Curtin (60).

Cuala: S Brennan; R Reid, Cian O'Callaghan, S Barron; R Tierney, O Gough, S Stapleton; S Moran, C Sheanon; C Waldron, C Cronin, P Butler; S Treacy, D Treacy, B Connolly. Subs: S Timlin for Barron (16), N Carthy for Sheanon (half-time), Con O'Callaghan for Cronin (50), K Braine for Waldron (56).

Ref: Danny Harrington (St Sylvester's)