Furlong leaves mark with goal
SFC Group A: St. Anne's 1-11 Sarsfields 0-10
The decisive goal arrived as early as the 13th minute in Taghmon on Saturday when St. Anne's made it two wins from three outings in Group A of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship while heaping further pressure on bottom of the table Sarsfields.
And given how the youthful losers generally applied themselves well and made life difficult for the favourites, they will be annoyed at their slackness in the lead up to that key score.
When Seán Gaul picked out Mark Furlong with a pass, there was a lot of ground between the centre-forward and the goalposts, but he sauntered through without so much as a hand being laid on him before striking low and left-footed to the net past Senior debutant Colm O'Dowda (1-3 to 0-2).
St. Anne's went on to lead by 1-5 to 0-6 at the interval, and the accuracy of Gaul from placed balls went a long way towards keeping their noses in front as he accounted for four of their additional six points when facing the wind in the second period.
The ball-winning ability of Michael Fogarty from opposition kick-outs was another important factor in the Rathangan side's victory, while the full-back trio of Páraic O'Keeffe, Tomás Cullen and Kenny Cloney defended with customary tenacity when the pressure was on.
Indeed, Sarsfields only managed three points from play, and just one of their attackers contributed to that meagre haul. John Bridges landed a brace to supplement his four frees, while the first was a speculative effort from wing-back Cathal Kirwan in the third minute that hopped over the bar.
The town team will rue a number of missed goal chances, and their next game against Fethard on August 12 is now of the must-win variety as they have yet to pick up a point even though this was by far their best performance to date.
Veteran Philip Cullen had a goal shot blocked in the third minute, and David Gouldson's palmed effort from the rebound was kept out.
David Mooney was also denied by a defender two minutes later, and this time Cullen's follow up was deflected for a '45.
And it certainly wasn't Cullen's day, as he also fired across goal and wide from a Gouldson lay-off early in the second period.
Two of the St. Anne's raw recruits, Philip Rawson and Dylan O'Brien, registered their first two points on either side of Cathal Kirwan's opener for the Sars.
Redmond Barry made it 3-1 from a rising shot in the tenth minute, but John Bridges sold a nice dummy and responded immediately at the other end after a Dylan Furlong mark.
That goal from Mark Furlong followed, and Barry almost added a second after a long ball from Michael Fogarty but he was denied by a fine Colm O'Dowda save.
Free-takers Cullen and Bridges pulled back points for the town team before an alert Dylan O'Brien responded quickly when a Seán Gaul placed ball came off the woodwork, feeding Philip Rawson for his second point (1-4 to 0-4).
And although Gaul widened the gap to four, two late converted frees from Bridges and Cullen left Sarsfields only two in arrears at half-time (1-5 to 0-6).
Cullen was off target from a scoreable free shortly after his missed goal chance on the re-start, and St. Anne's availed of those let-offs when Páraic O'Keeffe joined the attack and was picked out by David O'Connor for a point.
John Bridges narrowed the deficit to two again from a free, but a run of three points on the trot from Gaul between the 41st and 45th minutes saw the first real daylight appear between the teams (1-9 to 0-7).
Eventually Sarsfields pared it back down to two when Bridges knocked over a free and followed with his second from play with just over nine minutes to go.
It remained tight and tense to the finish, with free-takers Gaul and Cullen swapping points on either side of a speculative attempt on goal that was sent wide by Sarsfields full-forward Eoin Roche.
The insurance score for St. Anne's arrived in the 59th minute, with substitute Jess Codd exchanging passes with Liam Rochford at the end of a patient move before splitting the posts.
St. Anne's: Paul Brennan; Páraic O'Keeffe (0-1), Tomás Cullen (capt.), Kenny Cloney; Michael O'Brien, Seán Gaul (0-5 frees), Diarmuid O'Keeffe; David O'Connor, Jonathan Fogarty; Michael Fogarty, Mark Furlong (1-0), Philip Rawson (0-2); Liam Rochford, Redmond Barry (0-1), Dylan O'Brien (0-1). Subs. - Andy Kennedy for D. O'Brien (50), Jess Codd (0-1) for J. Fogarty (50), Seán Kelly for Rawson (60).
Sarsfields: Colm O'Dowda; Brendan Mulligan, Michael Hanrahan (capt.), Con O Donnagáin; Tomás Campbell, Seán O Corcora, Cathal Kirwan (0-1); David Mooney, Ciarán Kirwan; Conall Clancy, David Gouldson, Dylan Furlong; Philip Cullen (0-3 frees), Eoin Roche, John Bridges (0-6, 4 frees). Subs. - Ryan Furlong for Clancy, inj. (19), Fiach O Crualaoich for Campbell (41), Clancy for Ciarán Kirwan (48), Conall O Crualaoich for Cathal Kirwan (53), Adam Dempsey for Mooney (60).
Referee: David Jenkins (Gusserane).