county senior football champions, Athy, booked their place in this year’s MDY Construction SFC semi final with a fully deserved three point win over Moorefield, at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge, on Saturday evening, writes Tommy Callaghan.
MDY Construction Senior Football Championship Quarter Final
It was a dour, cat and mouse game for long periods that never really came to life and overall was a very disappointing game unless, of course, you were supporting Athy, who will naturally be more than satisfied in a win sets up a repeat of last year’s decider, against Carbury in two weeks time.
There may have been only three points in it in the end but in truth Athy were by far the better, dominated for long periods but failed to convert that dominance on to the score board, hitting 15 wides in total (6 and 9) against a Moorefield side who failed to find any rhythm up front, scoring just three points from play, the remaining four coming courtesy of frees by Roli Sweeney.
That been said it was Moorefield who came out of the traps quickest and opened a two point lead through an excellent long range Ciarán Kelly opener after two with Roli Sweeney adding his first point after eleven following a foul on Brian McGrogan.
At this stage The Moores were on top around the middle, Kevin O’Neill gaining lots of possession and their half back line sweeping up most of the loose ball.
Keith Duane, following a brilliant built up down the middle saw his shot on goal blocked by Mick Foley for a ‘45’ which was not converted.
A silly foul on Pauric O’Flynn saw Sweeney stretch the lead, before Liam McGovern converted a free on 23 minutes to make it 0-4 to 0-2.
Keith Duane then broke up an Athy attack, linked up with Sweeney, received the return pass and popped it over to make it Moorefield 0-5 Athy 0-2 with 25 minutes gone.
Incredibly Moorefield failed to raise another white flag until the 57 minute, some 33 minutes later and there in lies the difference between the sides.
Athy, who had been finding it difficult to find the posts ended the half with three fine points.
Tony Gibbons got the first followed by a brilliant effort from Darroch Mulhall, who was introduced some five minutes earlier, with Kevin Feely firing over a brilliant point to level up the scores on 29 minute.
Before the break Jason Phillips and David Whyte swopped positions as Athy were taking control around the middle where Kevin Feely was now operating, and that, along with Niall Kelly moving to centre forward had a huge bearing on the result and on the Athy performance.
If the opening half was dour the opening fifteen minutes of the resumption was even worse as both sides failed to convert numerous chances.
Moorefield attacked but through a combination of fine defensive play from the boys in red coupled with players in possession running up blind alleys and cul-de-sacs rarely threatened as Brian Kinahan, at full back for Athy, cleared his line time and time again through a combination of some excellent fetching and top class reading of the game.
At the far end James Eaton threatened on a few occasions but some good defending denied the big no. 14 on more than one occasion.
Athy were now dominant but continued to miss the target and it took all of 14 minutes before the first point of the second half arrived, a fine effort from Tony Gibbons.
Keith Duane had a point chance but failed to find the posts before Athy corner back, Conor Ronan got forward to hit a beauty and stretch the lead to two.
A brilliant catch by Brian Kinahan began a move that saw James Eaton heading for goal, he drew the foul and Niall Kelly popped over the free and when the same player added another from open play there were now four between the sides.
Ronan Sweeney got his side’s first of the second half, a free on 57 minutes but Kevin Feely, bursting through from midfield blasted over another and while Sweeney got the final score of the game it was too little as Athy booked their last four spot on a score line of 0-10 to 0-7.
The honours went where they belong but if Athy are to progress they will have to cut down on their wides, something that has been causing them problems all season but they are through now and if they can get that part of their game back on track they could go very close indeed to recording back-to-back titles.
Bitter disappointment for Moorefield, if they were told they would hold Athy to ten points before the game they would have been more than happy but hitting seven points in an hour in a SFC quarter final was never going to be enough and they paid the penalty.
Athy, Tony Gibbons 0-3, Kevin Feely 0-2, Niall Kelly 0-2 (1 free), Darroch Mulhall 0-1, Conor Ronan 0-1, Liam McGovern 0-1 (free).
Moorefield, Ronan Sweeney 0-5 (4 frees), Ciarán Kelly 0-1, Keith Duane 0-1.
James Roycroft; Conor Ronan, Brian Kinahan, David Hyland; Ross Bell, Michael Foley, David Holligan; Paddy Dunne, Declan Kinahan; Tony Gibbons, Kevin Feely, Liam McGovern cpt.; Danny O’Keeffe, James Eaton, Niall Kelly. Subs: Darroch Mulhall for Declan Kinahan (22 minute); Shane O’Brien for David Holligan (36 minute); Joe Kinahan for Danny O’Keeffe (59 minute); Cian Reynolds for Niall Kelly (60 minute).
Tom Corley; Pauric O’Flynn, Kevin Murnaghan, Liam Callaghan; James Murray, Ian Lonergan, James Lonergan; Kevin O’Neill cpt., David Whyte; Eddie Heavey, Ronan Sweeney, Ciarán Kelly; Brian McGrogan, Jason Philips, Keith Duane. Subs: Frank Hanniffy for Brian McGrogan (40 minute); Barry Dempsey for David Whyte (50 minute); Niall Hurley Lynch for Eddie Heavy (56 minute); Ricky Maguire for Keith Duane (60 minute).