Moorefield 2-13 Rathnew 2-7
MOOREFIELD are into their first Leinster club final since 2006 after beating Rathnew in Aughrim today.
They’ll play St. Loman’s in Portlaoise on December 10th.
On a wretched day for football and in the venue that recently added St. Vincent’s to its illustrious list of victims, Éanna O’Connor was the match-winner, kicking eight points in a gritty 2-13 to 2-7 win.
Only two of the points scored by O’Connor – son of former Kerry manager, Jack - were from play but his placed-ball kicking was superb throughout.
Rathew played the first half with the aid of a strong wind but Moorefield’s start was impeccable.
Niall Hurley-Lynch, a habitual goal scorer for them this year, got another here after four minutes when he ghosted into a little patch of space around the Rathnew 14 yard line and was found by Eddie Heavey.
Jamie Snell scrambled to get a block in and partially succeeded but the deflection only served to wrong foot Peter Dignam in the Rathnew goal.
Éanna O’Connor added a point within a minute but slowly, Rathew found a groove by running directly at Moorefield and from this course of action, kicked five of the next six scores to get back level.
Leighton Glynn kicked a gem after dummy-soloing two would-be Moorefield blockers but the score of the half was Éanna O’Connor’s, who sold his marker a dummy and dispatched with the outside of his right foot from 40 yards into the wind.
The most important score of the half was still to come, however.
Graham Merrigan went on a solo run and managed to get a shot away but the decisive touch came from Moorefield's Liam Healy, who kicked the ball into his own net.
At 1-5 each at half-time – and with the aid of the wind to come – Moorefield looked well-placed to kick on but a few major moments went against them.
First, Éanna O’Connor’s shot was tipped wide after a lovely move with Hurley-Lynch opened up an excellent chance.
Then, from the resultant ’45, his brother Cian was sent off for flicking his arm back at a Rathnew player as a scuffle developed in front of the ball.
And lastly, despite Éanna O’Connor’s impeccable kicking giving Moorefield some breathing room, Rathnew won a penalty in the 45th minute after Daryl Flynn was adjudged to have fouled James Stafford.
Glynn nonchalantly stuck the penalty away to level the game but Moorefield’s energy and Rathnew’s ill-discipline conspired to give O’Connor a raft of frees that with a tail wind, he was never going to pass up.
Stafford bafflingly stayed on the pitch despite committing an offence identical to the one that Cian O’Connor was sent off for.
With Rathnew pressing late on, Moorefield turned them over high up the pitch and after playing a one/two with Eddie Heavey, Mark Dempsey slid home a goal to seal their win.
SCORERS – Moorefield: E O’Connor 0-8 (5f, 2 ’45), N Hurley Lynch 1-3, M Dempsey 1-0, I Meehan 0-2. Rathnew: L Glynn 1-1 (1-0 pen), E Doyle 0-3 (1f) J Stafford, S Staunton, J Merrigan 0-1 each.
MOOREFIELD: T Kinsella; L Callaghan, L Healy, S Healy; K Murnaghan, M Dempsey, J Murray; D Flynn, A Masterson; C O’Connor, E Heavey, I Meehan; E O’Connor, R Sweeney, N Hurley-Lynch. Subs: D Whyte for Masterson (45), S Dempsey for S Healy (56), A Mullins for Hurley-Lynch (62)
RATHNEW: P Dignam; P Merrigan, D Power, J Snell; W Kavanagh, R O’Brien, E Glynn; J Stafford, T Smith; G Merrigan, L Glynn, D Staunton; S Byrne, M Doyle, E Doyle. Subs: J Merrigan for E Doyle (51 black card), N Mernagh for Byrne (50), J Manley for E Glynn (53), C Healy for O’Brien (57 inj).
REF: J Hickey (Carlow)
If there is a debate in science about which came first, the chicken or the egg, there can be a similar debate in football about which comes first, success at adult level or underage victories propelling adult teams to glory.