| 13.1°C Dublin

Sarsfields take advantage of St Patrick's sluggish start

Sarsfields edged out 14-man St Patrick's in Newbridge, but they will need to improve if they are to have any hope against Ballymun Kickhams in the semi-final.

John Crofton's Kildare crew held more aces in attack and had eight different scorers, but they were playing against 14 men for over half the game. Apart from their indiscipline, the Louth visitors will regret their poor start, and while they displayed more intensity in the second half, they left themselves with far too much to do.

A whirlwind opening saw Sarsfields move into a five-point lead before St Patrick's got off the mark with a Daniel O'Connor point in the 18th minute.

According to Crofton, it was critical to the result. "Absolutely, but you can't manage a team to get early scores," smiled the former Kildare manager.

Conor Tiernan came forward from right half-back to open the scoring in the fourth minute with a wonderful point with the outside of his right boot and Gary White followed up with a fine free off the sod. St Patrick's were lacklustre and nervous, as they turned over possession. Dan Nea, rookie midfielder Matty Byrne and Alan Smith added to the Sarsfields tally.

wake-up call

The 27th-minute dismissal of substitute Kevin Toner within moments of his introduction, following an off-the-ball challenge on Tiernan, was the wake-up call St Patrick's needed and they finished the half strongly.

A fine goal by full-back Dessie Finnegan, having been put through by his brother Ray, allied to a pointed free by Paddy Keenan, saw the Louth representatives go in at half-time trailing by just two points, 0-7 to 1-2. Sarsfields resumed control in a spiky second half, with Ray Cahill, Byrne and Padraig Brennan getting on the mark by the 40th minute.

Conor Duffy gave a fine performance in the home defence, while White offered an effective screen and Byrne was hugely impressive around the middle against Keenan.

The young midfielder contributed another point and with Cahill adding two quick scores from play after Robbie Confrey's 55th-minute goal, the home side were in control. However, they let their concentration slip in the closing stages which must be a big worry for their supporters.

Scorers -- Sarsfields: R Cahill 0-4 (2fs); 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: D Finnegan, C McCann 1-0 each, P Keenan 1f, E Carroll (2fs) 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)

Irish Independent