Saturday 24 February 2018

Duane sparkles in Moorefield's final flourish

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

IT took Moorefield, who kicked 15 wides, a long time to sort out the jigsaw pieces, but they finally assembled them in neat order before completing the picture with a last-quarter flourish which left Sarsfields in a blur at Newbridge yesterday.

It looked as if outsiders Sarsfields were all set for a dramatic victory over their great rivals when Ciaran Dempsey pointed a free to put them five points clear -- 1-8 to 0-6 -- after 43 minutes, but, remarkably, they failed to score from there to the finish, while Moorefield kicked seven points to secure the Kildare title for the fifth time since 2000.

Moorefield made life almost unbearably hard for themselves before finally applying the order and method that had marked their advance to the final.

With Keith Duane and Brian McGrogan kicking some opportunist points and Ronan Sweeney slotting two from frees, Moorefield drew level in the 58th minute and, with the momentum now very much in their direction, they saw the job through to a successful conclusion.

Jason Philips, who had returned to the action less than a minute earlier after being substituted in the 47th minute, hoisted a spectacular stoppage-time point before Duane crowned his man-of-the-match performance with his fourth point.

Moorefield kicked eight wides in the opening 18 minutes and saw it increase to 10 by half-time. They were trailing by 1-4 to 0-2 at the break, having being hit by a Sarsfields' blitz in the final six minutes.

An injection of directness (both sides had overdone the short passing, the interchanging of positions and the crowding of the middle third of the pitch early on), which saw Sarsfields deliver quicker ball to their inside forwards, yielded three points, before they struck for a goal just before half-time.

It was finished by Morgan O'Sullivan, who was a key figure in the Sarsfields' improvement. So too were Alan Smith, Conor Tiernan and captain, Gary White.

"We knew we hadn't performed anywhere near the level we can, so it was question of sitting down, sorting things out and starting again," said Moorefield manager Jack Sheedy.

Sarsfields re-appeared for the second half without Gary White, who had taken a heavy knock in the first half and was brought to hospital for observation.

His departure was a blow to Sarsfields, but they disguised it well throughout the third quarter.

They matched Moorefield point for point throughout that period, only to lose power at an alarming rate from there on. All of their scores came between the 21st and 43rd minutes.

Indeed, it was astonishing that they could score 1-8 in their productive period before drying up completely.

Credit must go to the Moorefield defence, which greatly improved its security over the final quarter.

Further afield, Ronan Sweeney became an increasingly influential figure as the game progressed and with McGrogan and Duane scoring 0-7 from open play between them, Moorefield grew in confidence once they found their rhythm.

David Whyte also did well in open play, although he was let down by his shooting from placed balls.

Sheedy's relief at the final whistle was understandable, as it really did look for long stages as if it was going to be one of those days which might refuse to come right.

plugging

"You just have to keep plugging away and that's what the lads did," he said. "We were on to them all along that it wouldn't be easy and it wouldn't be pretty and that they would have to dig very deep which they did.

"This is as dedicated a bunch of fellas as I've ever come across playing football and it showed out there today when they kept battling even when things were going against them," added Sheedy, who has former Dublin colleague, Richie Crean as team trainer.

Sheedy conceded that while he had the utmost faith in his side's ability, he was concerned when they faced a five-point deficit.

"We hadn't taken enough of our chances. We missed a lot early on and then conceded a soft goal early on. It put the pressure on us, but the lads stood up when they had to," he said.

Moorefield will have little time for celebration as they head into Leinster championship action against Portlaoise next weekend.

"We're going to get sorted very quickly for that one because there's a lot more in this team, but they only showed it bits and pieces out there today," said Sheedy.

Scorers -- Moorefield: Keith Duane 0-4, R Sweeney (0-2f), B McGrogan 0-3 each, C Kelly, P Murray (0-1f), J Philips 0-1 each. Sarsfields: A Smith 0-4 (0-2f), M O'Sullivan 1-1, C Tiernan, C Dempsey (0-1f), R Confrey 0-1 each.

Moorefield -- T Corley; L Callaghan, K O'Neill, I Lonergan; K Murnaghan, L Keane, Kenny Duane; D Whyte, G Naughton; P Murray, R Sweeney, C Kelly; B McGrogan, J Philips, Keith Duane. Subs: D Flynn for Keane (36), P O'Flynn for Kenny Duane (47), P Woulfe for Philips (47), N Hurley Lynch for Kelly (50), J Philips for O'Neill (60).

Sarsfields -- G Slicker; J Kavanagh, S Campbell, A McLernon; C Duffy, N Hedderman, R Murphy; G Whyte, A Barry; C Dempsey, C Tiernan, R Confrey; A Smith, M O'Sullivan, M Browne. Subs: E O'Sullivan for White (h-t), C Carey for Hedderman (49), P Brennan for Confrey (55).

Ref -- B Hickey.

Irish Independent

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