Sunday 25 February 2018

Sarsfields pay tribute to Earley

Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

Many diehard GAA people, including some leading managers, have been very vocal in condemning the practice of young players going to Australia to try their hand at Aussie Rules in recent years and many snide remarks have been made about them being mercenaries and the like.

Well, one county who will be very glad that the Aussie experiment applied to them is Longford because their marvellous success over Laois yesterday was hugely inspired by young Michael Quinn from the Killoe club, who spent three years with Essendon in Melbourne.

Quinn was the main man who held the Longford team together in the first half when Laois threatened to overwhelm them.

And, in the second half, when the contest had to be won in the heat of championship battle, Quinn stood out as a colossus, driving his team-mates on when he played a lot at midfield -- an area where Laois were totally dominant in the first half.

He also set up the brilliant goal fisted to the net by Paul Barden with a wonderful cross-field pass and overall showed the benefits of playing in front of 40,000 crowds in Australia and the results of top-of-the-range training.

Laois were typical Laois, flattering to deceive, as they have done so often in the past. They opened with a mad flurry of activity and led by 0-9 to 0-3 at the break.

Their powerful selection of big, strong players in the middle third of the field -- John O'Loughlin, Kevin Meaney, Colm Begley and Brendan Quigley -- simply toyed with their Longford counterparts in that area, ensuring a non-stop supply of ball to the forwards. But Laois seemed to have only one tactic in attack, which was to loft high ball after high ball in on top of full-forward Padraig Clancy.

However most of these kicks were poorly directed and it was Clancy's opponent Barry Gilleran who was the only beneficiary.

Coupled with his small but terrier-like corner-backs, Dermot Brady and Declan Reilly, they prevented the Laois forwards from doing serious damage, though some of the wides by Laois were terrible in perfect conditions.

In the second half, with a revamped team, Longford soon got into their stride, with Quinn and David Barden, also moved to midfield, the engines that got things going.

That brilliant Paul Barden goal came early in the second half and at one stage Longford rattled off no less than seven points without reply to go 1-10 to 0-11 ahead with time almost up.

During that half, the whole Laois team just crumbled in front of our eyes as the faster-running approach of Longford denied Laois the advantage of height and strength and Laois simply were unable to cope with this style of play.

This was a hugely important victory for Longford, only their first in Leinster in the past 11 years and the first time they have beaten Laois since 1968 -- when Longford won their only Leinster championship.

They are a well organised team full of confidence and with unlimited bravery and raw courage which they needed, and showed, in the second half yesterday.

Their Leinster quarter-final game at Croke Park with Wexford in two weeks' time will now be very interesting.

Sarsfields pay tribute to Earley

When a famous GAA player passes on, there can be no better tribute than to perpetuate his name in a youth-related project because that ensures successive generations of players retain the deceased's memory.

The late Dermot Earley was an iconic figure in Newbridge, where he lived most of his life, and his name will be attached to a new underage academy attached to Dermot's local Sarsfields GAA club.

Newbridge Medical and Dental will fund this exciting development.

Liam O'Neill, Kildare captain Johnny Doyle and the Earley family will be there for the launch of this brilliant initiative next Saturday, May 26 at 2.0.

Irish Independent

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