'2020 will be remembered as the hardest championship that there’s been in Dublin'

Ballymun Kickhams will face Ballyboden St Enda’s in a mouthwatering Dublin SFC final.


BALLYMUN KICKHAMS ARE likely to appeal Leon Young’s red card from yesterday’s Dublin SFC semi-final, though Davey Byrne’s dismissal looked more cut and dry and he’s set to miss the decider against Ballyboden St Enda’s.

Tempers flare near the end of the game.Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ballymun are now an hour away from sealing their first county title since 2012, but they may have to do so without two members of their best 15.

After reviewing the video footage, manager Brendan Hackett accepted that Byrne deserved to be sent-off, yet he was puzzled as to the reason why Young was given his marching orders.

“I’ve an issue with Leon’s red card,” he said.

“Leon was left half-back. I think that’s a mistake, because he hadn’t a yellow. You could see him coming off the bench – he hadn’t a clue what it was about. So I think that’s probably a mistake.

“I was looking at the backs, trying to make sure we were shored up at the back.

“Absolutely didn’t see what happened up there,” he said, referencing the incident that saw Byrne deliver an uppercut to Cillian O’Shea – which was picked up by the TG4 cameras.

“I’ve only been told about it now. Look you can’t appeal a strike – so there’s no issue with that.

“On this run we’ve had very few cards up to this. I think we’ve only had two yellow cards, in four to five games. But in a real tense game like that, where both teams are flat out, yeah, it boiled [over].

“I think it was probably getting away from them a bit at the end. We were in control in those last couple of minutes. So, that’s what I said to you, when you’re in control of a game and you’re five up, you don’t start something.”

Ballymun had their place in the final pretty much assured when all hell broke loose in stoppage-time.

“It was a really emotional game, because you couldn’t settle into it. Even in the last couple of minutes. You know you’re five up and you’re trying to shore up at the back, and then the row breaks out and you’re trying to organise your team. So, the last quarter was really, really tense.

“It wasn’t a Ballymun player that started it, that’s all I’ll say,” added Hackett.

Jason Whelan and Cian O’Connor were involved in a nasty scuffle where both players appeared to attempt an eye gouge and were booked by referee James King.

The fact that Whelan picked up a yellow card could preclude any retrospective action being taken for his role in the incident and clear his involvement in a fortnight.

Discipline issues aside, successive victories over Na Fianna and Kilmacud Crokes indicate that Ballymun are in rude health heading into the decider.

Kilmacud Crokes Ballymun Kickhams goalkeeper Evan Comerford celebrates his side’s goal.Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

In the quarter-final and semi-final, when it was required they took the game by the scruff of the neck and imposed their will on their opponents.

When Ballymun break at pace and mind the ball, there are few club sides in the country that can live with them. They have powerful runners capable of breaking the line from deep and a quality inside duo of Dean Rock and Paddy Small.

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“To be fair to them, they were good,” said Kilmacud joint boss Robbie Brennan. “They managed to keep it well and keep it away from us and snuffed us out bar the late goal near the end, but it was kind of consolation stuff at that stage.

“It was a decent battle but I’d have no qualms, I think they were the better team over the course of the 60 odd minutes.”

Hackett said his side’s superior fitness levels were central to the victory.

“I would say we were fitter. I had saying this to you about hunger, because in a semi-final everybody is hungry, but I thought we’d huge desire. Huge desire. But we’d composure too.

“It was a frantic game, but we still had a lot of composure. I think there were a lot of factors in it, but for me the key ones would have been fitness and desire. Just real desire to get to that next stage.

“I wouldn’t say mission accomplished. Obviously we’ve won five games, the whole thing is all hinging on game six.”

Since their last victory, Ballymun have been beaten in two finals. Both losses arrived against St Vincent’s – in 2013, after a replay, and in 2017.

They’re coming up against a high-flying Ballyboden outfit who haven’t lost a game in Dublin since Ballymun bettered them by 0-9 to 0-8 in the 2019 league final last December.

“I always said that this is the championship to win: 2020 will be remembered as the hardest championship that there’s been in Dublin because every club has had all their players,” continued Hackett.

“There’s no excuses. No-one can say they got injured or tired playing county. This is the championship to win and will be remembered. I don’t remember a Dublin championship in my time as hard as this with all the clubs having everyone on board.

Ballymun Kickhams manager Brendan Hackett.Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“From a neutrals’ point of view you couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said of the final pairing.

“Ballyboden have an attacking philosophy and so do we – 1-18; we’ve been scoring over 20 points in every game so we’re playing attacking football.”

Ballyboden were without county men Michael Darragh Macauley and Collie Basquel for their three-point semi-final defeat of St Jude’s on Saturday.

Anthony Rainbow’s medical team will be working hard to ensure both men are fit for the final on Sunday week.

Equally, Ballymun were relieved to see Paddy Small shake off a hamstring problem to play the full game yesterday.

“We were confident. It was more a spasm than a pull so it was a protective episode. It was assessed the next day and he was told he’d be back in 10 days and he trained with us last week. I didn’t have a doubt and don’t think he was in any way hindered.”