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Crofton braces Sarsfields for the 'force' of Kickhams' challenge

JOHN CROFTON cut a contented figure following Sarsfields' 1-12 to 2-6 Leinster Club SFC quarter-final victory over Louth's St Patrick's. Not even being told that his side's opponents in the Leinster semi-final, Ballymun Kickhams, had pulverised Mullingar Shamrocks could dampen his mood at Newbridge yesterday.

The facts of the matter are that while the Sarsfields manager hasn't seen the Dublin champions play, he knows all about them and wasn't surprised to see them progress.

"We played St Brigid's on a couple of occasions this year in challenge games when they were county champions in Dublin," said former Kildare senior star Crofton.

"I thought when we were organising those that we were playing the crème de la crème in Dublin.

"I could not believe that Brigid's were turned over to the tune they were. They were eight points up and beaten by six in the semi-final (against Kilmacud Crokes in their semi-final). That was an incredible result.

"I looked at the Ballymun team-sheet and said, 'What a team!'

"Seriously, I met guys then that are close to Dublin football, talked to a couple of guys whose opinion I'd respect. Two guys said to me they thought Ballymun could do it. They must be some force.


"We haven't seen them, we haven't looked at them. We didn't go to the Dublin final. (But) we're in a Leinster club semi-final, with a home match and we'll be hoping we can bring our best game."

A whirlwind start was critical as the Kildare champions opened with five unanswered points.

St Patrick's were strangely lacklustre until the 27th-minute dismissal of substitute Kevin Toner within seconds of his introduction, following an off-the-ball incident involving Conor Tiernan. They finished the half strongly though, and a blistering goal by full-back Dessie Finnegan saw them go in at half-time trailing by just two points.

Sarsfields resumed control in a spiky second half, with Ray Cahill, Mattie Byrne and Pádraig Brennan getting on the mark by the 40th minute.

Robbie Confrey's 25th-minute goal and two fine scores from play by Cahill gave them some breathing space as they pushed seven points clear.

Colin McCann did finish well for a goal at the other end in the first minute of injury-time and though referee Fergal Kelly added another four minutes, a Karl White point with the last kick of the game was all that the Louth men could muster.

Sarsfields will meet Ballymun Kickhams in Newbridge on Sunday, November 25.

SCORERS -- Sarsfields (Kildare): R Cahill 0-4 (2f); R Confrey 1-0; M Byrne, A Smith 0-2 each; C Tiernan, G White (f), D Nea, P Brennan 0-1 each. St Patrick's (Louth): D Finnegan, C McCann 1-0 each; P Keenan (1f), E Carroll (2f) 0-2 each; R Finnegan, K White (f) 0-1 each.

SARSFIELDS: P O'Sullivan; S Campbell, C Duffy, S Hurley; C Tiernan, N O'Callaghan, D McDonnell; M Byrne, G White; D McKenna, R Cahill, D Nea; P Brennan, A Smith, R Confrey. Subs: C McInerney Aspell for O'Callaghan (23); C McDonnell for Nea (44); C Walsh for McKenna (53); M Browne for Brennan (59).

ST PATRICK'S: S Connor; J O'Hare, D Finnegan, D O'Hanlon; E Breen, C Goss, O Zamboglou; P Keenan, P Mallon; E Carroll, K White, A McCann; R Finnegan, D O'Connor, E O'Connor. Subs: K Toner for McCann (23); E White for Breen (48); M Breen for Carroll (53); C McCann for E O'Connor (57).

REF: F Kelly (Longford).