Furman goal decisive as Sarsfields forget their shooting boots
PAUL Curran's karmic debt to a past generation of Ballymun Kickhams players is being handsomely repaid to the team of 2012 as the recently-crowned Dublin champions march on to a Leinster club football final date with Portlaoise.
Curran helped Thomas Davis break the hearts of Barney Rock and John McCarthy, among others, as Kickhams succumbed in the 1989 county final.
That was the last group of Ballymun players to feature in a Dublin decider until October 29 last, when Curran led a side which included Rock and McCarthy's sons, Dean and James respectively, to a county championship final victory over Kilmacud Crokes.
Curran yesterday brought his troops a few miles down the M7 to Newbridge to face Kildare champions Sarsfields in the Leinster semi-final.
The big deal breaker revolved around chances made and chances missed. In that respect, Sarsfields sinned grievously and often, and paid the price by being cast into the outer darkness of expulsion from the championship.
"We're delighted. The goal gave us breathing space and we were sound defensively. It was a great team performance," said Curran.
In a low-scoring game – Ballymun led by 0-5 to 0-2 at half-time – the prize of a place in the final was going to belong to whichever team could grasp the initiative. The Dubs had edged into their hard-earned interval lead courtesy of points by McCarthy, Karl Connolly, Rock two, (one from a free) and Kevin Leahy.
Sarsfields raised a white flag twice – in the 16th minute with their first point from Alan Smith and an injury-time Robbie Confrey score – but their wide count was nine compared to Ballymun's four.
Could Sarsfields up the ante in the second half? They certainly looked the part as they moved the ball well through the field in the early stages after the break.
One of Sarsfields ploys was to hit high balls into the heart of Ballymun's back line, in which Philly McMahon and the Dolans, Enda and Eoin, conceded a few inches in height to Confrey and the mobile Ray Cahill, with a serious threat offered from breaking ball by Padraig Brennan and Alan Smith.
A greasy ball, slippery underfoot conditions and the likelihood of a spillage at some point made it a legitimate tactic, but each time the Ballymun defenders and goalie Sean Currie stood firm.
Indeed, Currie made a vital fisted clearance late in the game from a high ball pumped in by Tiernan, and the danger was cleared.
Sarsfields had good opportunities, but the wastage from the first half carried over to the second period and they ended with 15 wides compared to Ballymun's eight.
John Crofton, the Sarsfields boss, was disappointed. The winning margin of six points flattered Ballymun, an argument that Curran wouldn't contest, but you can't create so many chances and miss them and still expect to advance at this level.
"We had been running up good scores with limited possession. Ironically, today we got an awful lot of possession and failed in that task," said Crofton. "We were a bit of a shambles this time last year after our quarter-final defeat in Kildare, so there's great pride in getting this far, but a bit of disappointment in that there might have been a little opportunity left out there today."
Sarsfields took the early initiative in the second half, and points by Padraig Brennan from a 33rd minute free, and Ray Cahill's point in the 38th minute cut the deficit to one point at 0-4 to 0-5.
Soon afterwards Sarsfields had to substitute injured county star Smith who suffered a knee injury, but that wasn't a terminal blow.
The dagger in the heart came in the 47th minute when Sarsfields lost possession going forward Ballymun moved the ball down to the other end for Furman to find the net.
For once, Furman escaped the close marking of Conor Duffy as Elliott O'Reilly hit in a long, high ball and the Ballymun forward stole in front of 'keeper Patrick O'Sullivan, then made room to turn and shoot to the net.
Rock scored two late points, one with a class strike from a '45', and Derek Byrne finished the scoring in injury-time.
Scorers – Ballymun Kickhams: D Rock 0-4 (2f, 1 '45'), T Furman 1-0, J McCarthy, K Connolly, K Leahy, Davy Byrne 0-1 each. Sarsfields: A Smith, R Cahill (2f) 0-2 each, P Brennan 0-1f.
Ballymun Kickhams – S Currie; P McMahon, Enda Dolan, Eoin Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Burke; Davy Byrne, J McCarthy; E O'Reilly, K Leahy, J Whelan; T Furman, D Rock, S Forde. Subs: Derek Byrne for S Forde (h-t), A O'Brien for Derek Byrne (48), S George for E O'Reilly (50), J Small for K Leahy (57), F Andrews for T Furman (59).
Sarsfields – P O'Sullivan; S Hurley, S Campbell, C Duffy; D McDonnell, N O'Callaghan, C Tiernan; M Byrne, G White; C McDonnell, R Cahill, D McKenna; P Brennan, A Smith, R Confrey. Subs: C Walsh for A Smith (39); D Nea for P Brennan (50)
Ref – E Kinsella (Laois)