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Athy end long title wait

Kildare SFC final: Athy 1-11 Moorefield 0-12


Athy captain David Hyland with the Dermot Bourke Cup after the Kildare SFC final win over Moorefield at St Conleth’s Park

Athy captain David Hyland with the Dermot Bourke Cup after the Kildare SFC final win over Moorefield at St Conleth’s Park

Athy captain David Hyland with the Dermot Bourke Cup after the Kildare SFC final win over Moorefield at St Conleth’s Park

There was a sense of déjà vu about Athy's fate as the Kildare final ticked into its 53rd minute.

Eanna O'Connor had just kicked his fifth point to give Moorefield, who had outscored their opponents 0-6 to 0-3 at the interval, the lead for only the second time.

They had the advantage of the breeze while Athy's talismanic forward Niall Kelly had limped off with an ankle injury after 42 minutes.

It seemed Athy were destined to be the bridesmaid yet again. Beaten in the 2015 and 2018 finals, they had lost to Moorefield in last year's semi-final. They last won the title in 2011 but the second album has proved elusive.

But in their moment of greatest need Athy found their mojo. During the remaining 13 minutes they outscored last year's beaten finalists 1-2 to 0-2. Their demons had been exorcised. Predictably, social distancing was momentarily forgotten when the final whistle sounded.

In scoring terms, it was the Athy bench that made the difference. Danny O'Keeffe - who had replaced Kelly - hit 1-1; another replacement, Kieran Farrell, had levelled the tie at 0-9 each while a third substitute, Paul Whelan, won a 55th free - converted by Kevin Feely - to give Athy what proved an unassailable three-point lead.

Moorefield's fate was probably sealed in that play as Cian O'Connor picked up a second yellow card for his foul on Whelan and was sent off.

They scarcely threatened afterwards, though veteran Mick Foley - who was named Man of the Match - had to make a fantastic fetch deep in the parallelogram in the dying seconds to finally seal the win.

"They weren't going to leave this one behind," said their Claremorris born manager Vinnie Walsh.

"I knew it was in these lads. It was about building trust in themselves. I knew if I could build do that they wouldn't be far away.

"I told the boys to trust themselves. Do whatever comes into their head; don't second guess it. That's what Mick (Foley) did. There was a ball to be won and we went for it."

Moorefield manager Ronan Sweeney was crest-fallen. "I'm hugely disappointed. You just cannot afford to miss those chances that we missed today. We had three goals chances - that's nine points."

Paradoxically, it was Athy's squandermania in the first half which looked destined to be the defining factor of the 2020 final.

Athy packed the middle third and with Foley, David Hyland and Kevin Feely working tirelessly they won of all but three of Moorefield's 14 first-half kick-outs.

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But they failed miserably to convert this possession into scores, hitting eight wides and dropping a couple of shots short despite having wind advantage.

Their half-time lead did scant justice to their territorial dominance but ultimately the failure of Liam Callaghan, Ciaran Kelly - his shot hit the post - and Eanna O'Connor, whose effort was saved by James Roycroft - to score goals proved Moorefield's undoing.

So for the first time since Athy's last win in 2011, the Dermot Bourke Cup has a home outside Newbridge. Moorefield and Sarsfields had shared the last eight titles each.

Scorers - Athy: D O'Keeffe 1-1, N Kelly 0-3 (1f), J Eaton (1m, 1f), L McGovern 0-2 (2f) each, B Kelly, K Feely (1f), K Farrell 0-1 each. Moorefield: E O'Connor 0-5 (2f), A Tyrrell 0-2, S Dempsey, C O'Connor, A Masterson, N Hurley-Lynch (1m), M McDermott 0-1 each.

Athy: J Roycroft; M Hyland, S Ronan, D Lawler; B Maher, M Foley, D Hyland; K Feely, P Connell, L McGovern, T Gibbons, B Kelly; J Moran, J Easton, NKelly. Subs: K Farrell for Moran (40), D O'Keeffe for N Kelly (42), P Whelan for Maher (50), C Reynolds for Gibbons (50), D McGovern for B Kelly (65).

Moorefield: T Kinsella; L Callaghan, L Healy, S Dempsey, I Meehan, M Dempsey, A Durney; A Masterson, K Muraghan; C O'Connor, A Tyrrell, R Houlihan; E O'Connor, J Philips, C Kelly. Subs: N Hurley-Lynch for N Kelly (40); M McDermott for Philips (45), D Dunne for Callaghan (57), R Moore for Meehan (59).

Referee: Niall Colgan (Monasterevin)