The Leinster SHC quarter-final between Dublin's Ballyboden St. Enda's and Westmeath's Clonkill scheduled to take place on Sunday reached its conclusion tonight in Parnell Park; Ballyboden keeping their hopes alive for a first provincial triumph.
A result that will unquestionably pain the hurlers of Clonkill, their performance tonight was nothing short of remarkable. Under the lights in Parnell Park on a Tuesday night, the reason for such unusual scheduling came with tragic undertones.
On Friday evening, Annabel Loughlin, the 3-year-old daughter of former Westmeath hurler Enda, was fatally injured in a tragic accident.
Causing unspeakable grief amongst the local community of Clonkill and Westmeath generally, it was decided that the game due to be played last weekend would go ahead only a few days later.
Speaking of Clonkill's decision to go ahead with the game, manager Kevin O'Brien assured his side would "do our utmost to put in a performance everyone can be proud of."
As manager of @Clonkillhurling senior team,I want to guarantee Enda and his family, that we will respect their wishes and tog out in the @AIB_GAA Leinster club tomorrow. And do our utmost to put in a performance everyone can be proud of. RIP Annabel.
— Kev O'Brien (@kevobrien12) November 5, 2018
After a pulsating affair in Parnell Park tonight, there can be no doubt whatsoever that Clonkill did just as O'Brien suggested they would.
Leading by as much as 3-points after 12-minutes of play, Clonkill would soon encounter the gritty resilience of the Dublin senior champions. m
Reeling in that lead, the provincial quarter-final all but took on a score-for-score look from that moment on. Consistently trading points throughout, few would have been left surprised when the game ended level, and extra-time was required.
— Allianz 𝘿𝙪𝙗𝙈𝙖𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙏𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙠𝙚𝙧 (@DubMatchTracker) November 6, 2018
Extra-time started as well as Clonkill could have hoped; awarded a penalty almost immediately after the restart. Unfortunately for the Westmeath champions, Brendan Murtagh hit the resulting penalty wide.
Making some amends when he hit the first point of extra-time shortly thereafter, Ballyboden began to assert a greater degree of control over proceedings nevertheless.
Hitting the next three points without reply, it ultimately guaranteed them an insurmountable lead. In the end, it finished 2-25 to 2-19.
On a night when the hurlers of Clonkill will undoubtedly have more pressing matters in mind, they gave a tremendous account of themselves is the most horrific of circumstances.
Ballyboden St. Enda's will now go forward to play the provincial semi-final against Offaly's Coolderry on 18 November.