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O'Loughlin's Sarsfields come out top in family shootout

Kildare SFC: Sarsfields 2-17 Johnstownbridge 0-10


Ben McCormack of Sarsfields in action against Seamus McNally of Johnstownbridge

Ben McCormack of Sarsfields in action against Seamus McNally of Johnstownbridge

Ben McCormack of Sarsfields in action against Seamus McNally of Johnstownbridge

On the sideline it was a family affair as Luke Dempsey's Johnstownbridge took on a Sarsfields team trained by his nephew Billy O'Loughlin.

At one stage the pair worked toget her in Westmeath. Dempsey managed and O'Loughlin played as Mullingar outfit St Loman's won a couple of county titles.

This time around they were on opposite sides, and it was O'Loughlin's reigning county champions that dished out the kind of beating that will put the rest of the county on notice.

"I was working under him as a player at that stage," O'Loughlin recalled of his time with St Loman's. "It was probably the last few days of my career and he was brilliant. His record is phenomenal, he probably should have gotten the Kildare job before now and it might open up for him in the future."

On this occasion the apprentice outstripped the master but it should be pointed out that Johnstownbridge went into the game without key forward Daniel Flynn. The 2018 All Star nominee is recovering from a hamstring injury that will keep him out for the next couple of weeks. They also started without Sean Hurley, who like Flynn was also on the books of an AFL side in recent times but is recovering from a serious hip injury.

However, even by the time Dempsey called for him on 20 minutes, Johnstownbridge were starting to ship water.

Things had been fairly even before the first water break. Sam Doran was causing Sarsfields plenty of problems and by end of the first quarter, Sars' led by 0-5 to 0-3.

However, they came out a different team and from there to half time outscored their opposition by 2-4 to 0-3. Shane Doyle grabbed the first goal as part of his 1-3 haul in the first half before Conor Harley grabbed the second to help the Newbridge men into a 2-9 to 0-6 lead at the break.

If there was any doubt about the way the game was going at that point, it was extinguished after half time as Sarsfields, playing some clever and expansive football, hit the first four points of the half.

By the final whistle, they had amassed nine different scorers. The only blot on the copy book for the Newbridge men was when Ben McCormack came off early in the second half but O'Loughlin insisted it wasn't a major problem.

And while Johnstownbridge were unlucky with goal chances for both Doran and Hurley, who hit the post, they were comprehensively bested on the day.    

"Daniel Flynn is a massive loss to any club and hopefully he'll be back with them," O'Loughlin said.

"But that gave us good grounding that he wasn't playing and it's less to worry about but we are going quite well we just have to keep it going. The championship is being run off a lot quicker and we have good panel so it was a good start. I wouldn't like to have been beaten by the uncle on the first day, you could be sacked!" he smiled.

For Luke Dempsey, taking the job with Johnstownbridge is a homecoming to his native club though his is under no illusions that the rest of Kildare have it all to do if they are to wrestle the title from outside of Newbridge.

"Club football in Kildare is very strong. The two Newbridge teams are giants in Kildare so all the clubs who got well beaten over the weekend have to dust themselves down and get into the second match which is must win."

SCORERS - Sarsfields: S Doyle 1-4, C Hartley 1-3 (0-1 m), A Smith 0-3 (0-1m) B McDonnell 0-2, D Ryan, G White (45), B Coffey 1f), R Cahill, C Costigan 0-1 each. Johnstownbridge: S Doran 0-4 (2f), P Cribbin 0-2, M McCarthy, S Hurley (1m), C McNally, N Vaughan 0-1 each.

Sarsfields: P O'Sullivan; C Byrne, S Ryan, T Aspell; D Ryan, C Kavanagh, C Hartley; M Byrne, G White; B Coffey, R Cahill, B McDonnell; B McCormack, S Doyle, A Smith Subs: C Cositgan for McCormack (36), C Hartnett for Smith (48).   

Johnstownbridge: I Farrell; J O'Connor, S McNally, N Vaughan; J Higgins, K Cribbin, S Flanagan; L Flynn, P Cribbin; E O'Donoghue, S Doran, G Doran; M McCarthy, S Flynn, C McNally. Subs: S Hurley for G Doran (20), K McNally for Higgins (38). Ref: B O'Connell.