Saturday 18 November 2017

Bealin tips Ballyboden to derail Portlaoise

Paul Bealin
Paul Bealin
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It's 1995 and the Dublin SFC final is heading for its final quarter.

For Ballyboden St Enda's, chasing their first title, things are looking grim.

They are four points down to the Erin's Isle team of Charlie Redmond and Keith Barr. To top it off, they have lost All-Ireland winning midfielder Brian Stynes to a shoulder injury.

As it happened, Ballyboden had the other half of Dublin's All-Ireland winning midfield partnership on the bench.

Paul Bealin had just joined the club thanks to a transfer loophole in Dublin at the time. Bealin remembers the move wasn't without its controversy to the point where the club were unsure if he could be used. But they named him on the panel for the final anyway.

With the game on the line, they threw him on - in one of his first acts as a member of the club - and hoped for the best. And that's exactly what they got.

"We were four points down when I came on," Bealin recalls. "And we turned it around. It wasn't for all I did. I remember going for a ball and missing it totally. But somehow we worked a goal and the place lifted and we went from there."

In less than 20 minutes as a Ballyboden player he had helped the club break through their glass ceiling and join the ranks of senior championship winners, and he went on to become part of the furniture.


In 2001, in a player-manager role, Bealin steered them to just a second Dublin league title, with several of those players still involved when they secured their next championship crown in '09.

Back in 1995, their Leinster run was ended by Carlow's Eire Og and Bealin has followed the current crop with interest as they dug out another Dublin title.

"They will have believed at the start of the year that they could win in Dublin," Bealin says.

"But they raised a few eyebrows when they went and did it. And they have been impressive in Leinster too. And they have a great chance to go and do it now."

Bealin has first-hand experience of the might of Ballyboden's opponents tomorrow, Portlaoise. He had a spell in charge of their Laois rivals Graiguecullen, and for two years, in a semi-final and final, they went down to 'the Town.'

"They have won nine Laois titles now," he says. "And they do train towards Leinster. I know Emo drew with them (in the Laois final) but they are a very experienced team. They are very skilful and talented. And they have a great depth to their team as well, so it is a big task facing Ballyboden."

Twenty years on from his cameo, Bealin will look on from the stands tomorrow as the club look to break more new ground.

Irish Independent

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