CELBRIDGE have been the dominant force in Kildare hurling over the past few seasons, winning the last three senior championship titles and the last two senior hurling leagues (last year’s incidentally played only a little over two months ago) and on Friday evening last at Clane they once again emphasised that superiority when defeating neighbours, Ardclough, by a five point margin to add another league title to their haul.
SHL Division 1 Final
It was a win that Celbridge fully deserved, although in fairness to Ardclough they pushed them for 50 minutes or so but in the end had to give way to the superior craft and guile of the boys in blue and white.
As one Ardclough supporter remarked after the game “for us (Ardclough) to win we would have had to get everything going and get every break on the day and that rarely happens.”
Eagle eyed Sam White opened for the champs after two minutes before Ardclough, with the aid of a strong breeze, equalised through a Martin Fitzgerald free.
The next two scores came from the same players before White edged Celbridge ahead.
Ardclough were enjoying plenty of possession but their shooting was certainly off target and one could just wonder if they would regret some very poor wides early in the half.
Leo Quinn was playing very deep for Celbridge but it was ‘The Cloughs’ who kicked on with points from Brian Coulston and Martin Fitzgerald. However Celbridge got the first major break when Gerry Keegan set up Conor Kenny and the number 14 made no mistake from close range to find the net.
Ardclough came back and when awarded a 20 metre free up stepped Richie Hoban but his goal attempt was brilliantly saved by Niall Lanigan and minutes later Aidan Buggle in the Ardclough denied Gerry Keegan when a goal looked on.
The challengers were awarded another 20 metre free soon after, again Hoban stepped forward, and again it was saved, this time by Cathal Earley but the resultant 65 was popped over by Martin Fitzgerald and when Paul Fitzgerald found the range on 27 minutes the sides were level at 1-3 to 0-6.
Conor Kenny edged the champs clear but it was Ardclugh who finished the strongest hitting two points, Tony Spain and Paul Fitzgerlad on target, to lead at the break Ardclough 0-8 Celbridge 1-4.
With the wind in their backs the odds certainly favoured Celbridge on the resumption but Ardclough extended the lead through Cathal Fenton after just two minutes.
Conor Kenny and Sam White replied to tie it up but Ardclough shocked their opponents when a Martin Fitzgerald centre was uncharastically dropped by Niall Lanigan and Ronan O’Malley was in to fire the sliother to the net.
Danny Butler and Martin Fitzgerald exchanged points as the Ardclough fans were beginning to sense a possible upset.
Celbridge had other ideas though and upped their game cosiderably hitting four points on the trot before hammering home the vital goal. A long ball in by Leo Quinn saw Mark Moloney get goal side of his marker and he made no mistake to make it 2-11 to 1-10.
Martin Fitzgerald hit back with a free but it was Celbridge who added two more points from Gerry Kegan and a brilliant effort from Conor Kenny to leave Celbridge deservedly winners on a score line of Celbridge 2-13 Ardclough 1-11.
With the championship getting under way this Friday and Saturday it is looking increasingly difficult to see who can stop Celbridge making it four on the trot and while Ardclough, among others, will certainly give it their all it is certainly looking good for the champions at the minute.
Celbridge, Conor Kenny 1-4, Sam White 0-6 (6 frees), Mark Moloney 1-0, Gary Keegan 0-1, Leo Quinn 0-1, Danny Butler 0-1 (sideline).
Ardclough, Martin Fitzgerald 0-6 (5 frees, 65), Ronan O’Malley 1-0, Paul Fitzgerald 0-2, Brian Coulston 0-1, Tony Spain 0-1, Ciaran Fenton 0-1.
Niall Lanigan; Liam McDonagh, Pa Curtin, Aidan McDonagh; Billy White, Niall Ó Muineacháin, Cathal Earley; Danny Butler, Sam White; Mark Moloney, Sean O’Carroll, Paddy Moloney; Leo Quinn, Conor Kenny, Gerry Keegan. Subs: Markus Kinsella for Sean O’Carroll (43 minute).
Aidan Buggle; Niall Coulston, Enda Duane, Enda Hoey; Philip Fitzgerald, Richie Hoban, Peter Coleman; Martin Fitzgerald, Paul Fitzgerald; Tony Spain, Brian Coulston, Ronan O’Malley; Colm Buggy, Cathal Fenton, Johnny Reeves. Subs: Kailyn Domican for Philip Fitzgerald (half time); Paul Hogan for Johnny Reeves (52 minute); Sean Buggy for Colm Buggy (56 minuter).