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the MAGNIFICE NT SEVEN

ONCE again, Ballyboden St Enda's will be top of the tree this Christmas. They have scooped seven Evening Herald/Dublin Bus Dubs Stars Hurling Awards.

That figure rises to eight when the bench is taken into account.

It rounded off another marvellous season for the Firhouse Fusiliers.

Hogan's Heroes lifted their fifth successive county crown. That was last done by Garda more than 80 years ago.

Even further back in time, one of the most distinguished names of Dublin hurling, Commercials, also achieved that stunning feat.

But no club has done the six-in-a-row. There will be no bigger spur to the 'Boden Boys when they dust down their hurls for pre-season training.



Favourite

They were disappointed with their Leinster exit last week. And Dublin hurling was disappointed for them too.

Boden have become everybody's favourite team in the capital ... and that's some accomplishment. People commend their industry and craft, and also their attitude. They were without their celebrated duo, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney, all year.

Yet as he faced the reporters in the Parnell Park corridor after losing to Coolderry last week, Liam Hogan never even mentioned it.

And maybe that's the most appealing thing of all about this exceptional group. They just get on with it.

They have suffered setbacks in their long apprenticeship, but the most important thing is that they have learned well from them.

Crushing defeats in semi-finals and finals, but 'Boden always bounced back, and they will do so again. With Hiney and Keaney on board next year, they will have an even stronger hand. But that's all in the future.

They could have beaten Coolderry. It wasn't for a lack of effort. Coolderry, following a sluggish start, grew into the match.

Boden threw the hall, stairs and landing at the Offaly goal, but it was just one of those days when the autocue wasn't itself. Beating his home-town club would have put yet another feather in the cap of Liam Hogan.



CHALLENGE

Facing Oulart would have been an order as tall as The Spire, but 'Boden would have relished the challenge. Maybe next year.

This season they had a comfortable journey to the Dublin title, beating O'Toole's in the final. O'Toole's have four in the Dubs Stars 15. In the early pages of the final, they were very much there with 'Boden, who eventually sprinted away.

But Joey Morris and company will be pleased enough with a campaign that saw them return to their first final in nine years.

There's a cluster of young players emerging at Blunden Drive and Joey hopes that this year's final appearance will give them an appetite for more. They are one of the most committed squads in Dublin GAA.

The majority also play senior football for the club.

And year in, year out, they produce worthy performances in the football championship. They are not easily beaten.

This term, they were humming as they swept past Ballinteer St John's in the third round of the football championship in Swords.

And when it came to the small ball, they showed all their energy and guile to overcome the fancied Kilmacud Crokes before accounting for St Brigid's.



Pleased

Timmy O'Mahony can feel pleased with the progress at Russell Park. They have two names on the Dubs Stars side.

They had two significant victories on their way to the semi-final. Wins against the Craobh and St Vincent's don't come free with the Sunday Times.

Brigid's played some sweet stuff. And they have a noble work ethic. When you have those two qualities, you'll never be far from the hall door.

St Patrick's of Palmerstown will be among the VIPs in the Senior 'A' Championship in 2012. They lost the Senior 'B' Championship final to Naomh Fionnbarra -- a match that turned out to be a highlight of the hurling season.

The standards in the 'B' ranks have been rising. And it's a bright development to see the 'B' tournament being recognised in the Dubs Stars selection.

Lucan also make the cut. Fortune hasn't been too kind to them over the years, and they were disappointed with the manner of their exit to 'Boden.

But they are serious about the craft at the 12th Lock. And it won't be long before they return to Division 1 and are chasing the championship champagne.

Like Fionnbarra and Pat's, Ballinteer are on the rise. They had a splendid first year in the top tier, and two of their number will sit in a very formidable dug-out.


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