THERE may be only four games down for decision this weekend (three Saturday, one Sunday) in the MDY Senior Football Championship round three but needless to say they are all vital games for the club’s involved, writes Tommy Callaghan.
While the four winners go on to the quarter finals, for the four losing teams their season will be at an end for 2012 and they can effectively hang up their boots until the action resumes. So a lot at stake which ever way you look at.
On the sidelines of course, but no doubt keeping a close eye on proceedings, will be the quarter finalists, Carbury, Moorefield, Celbridge and Naas.
And to make things more interesting, some would even say an anomaly in the format of the championship, it is very likely that some teams will meet again, having already clashed in earlier rounds.
One of these is the very interesting clash between Sarsfields and Leixlip, where Naas await the winners.
Naas have already shocked Sarsfields in the opening round of the competition by a point while in round two, Mark Millham’s lads booked their quarter final spot with an extra time goal to defeat Enda Murphy’s maroon clad boys, also by a single point.
Sarsfields, of course, had a comfortable win over St Kevin’s in round two and while the final score line suggests the game was relatively close, in reality the very opposite was the case.
Kevin’s of course can point to the fact that if Seanie Johnston had converted a 60th minute penalty it would have left just two points separating the sides, however Sash ‘keeper, Patrick O’Sullivan, diving to his right, ensured the boys in red and black did not get as close as two.
Having said that John Crofton (Sarsfields’ manager) could not have been overly happy with his side who dominated for long periods, held an eight point lead at one stage but seemed to take the foot off the pedal and while never looking in trouble, nevertheless failed to kill off a Kevin’s side that looked limited.
What, no doubt will have pleased Crofton is the form of a few of his players, in particular centre forward Ray Cahill who scored 1-7 of his side’s 1-15 total.
Cahill was superb and while he can expect to be marked a lot closer against Leixlip, nevertheless it was an top drawer performance by him.
Team captain Padraig Brennan is another that is letting his football do all the talking. He seems to be relishing his role as leader as he continues to prove that form is temporary but class is permanent.
Gary White, who operated at midfield, also did very well. The county man who many believe his best position is at number six will probably continue in that role until Caoimhín McDonnell resumes which could be sooner rather than later and when he does it will further strengthen the side.
At the back Sean Campbell continues to impress while Conor Tiernan’s lightening fast speed will trouble many a side.
Leixlip who must have thought they had booked their quarter final spot when taking the lead against Naas when substitute, Brian O’Neill, found the net on the 60th minute and then proceeded to tack on two more points only for Naas, in a sweeping move, cancelled out all that fine work when David Gahan beat Kevin Claffey in the Leixlip goal to give the county town boys a one point win (1-12 to 1-11).
Leixlip are a side who down the years have promised much at senior level but have delivered, well in fact nothing, however, with former Kildare great Enda Murphy, they may be about to make a telling impact and while they will go into this game as underdogs, Sarsfields cannot afford to play in patches as Leixlip would be a lot stronger outfit than St Kevin’s.
Paddy Meagher is a fine free taker and misses very little while others who can be relied upon to perform on the day include Tommy Moolick, John Roche, Eamonn Murphy, David Jordan and Ciaran Fadian to name just a few.
Interesting game in prospect but the vote goes to Sarsfields to advance and set up a return clash with Naas.
Sarsfields 1/5; Leixlip 3/1; 8draw.
ATHY v CLANE
Another very interesting game is the one that sees county champions, Athy, take on Clane, who will still be hurting having let a two point lead slip with five minutes remaining against Moorefield in round two.
Clane looked well out of it in the opening half and trailed by five at the break, however they took control around the middle, winning practically every ball, and if they had steadied up a little at all could have clinched the win.
The injury that forced Eoin Naughton off the field also had a telling effect in those final vital minutes and no doubt Clane are fully away if they are to get the better of the men in red they will have to step up on a display that while very encouraging, nevertheless ultimately failed when the pressure came on.
But with players of the calibre of Tomás O’Connor, David Lyons, Robbie Dunne (who caused Moorefield a lot of problems), David Harney and Danny Egan, Marc Behan, not forgetting Robbie Eyres, on their day will push any team to their limits.
Athy, of course, after an incredible season in 2011 may not have overly impressed against a very light weight Allenwood side in round two, but are slowly but surely getting their strongest side back together.
Whether Kevin Feeley will be available is in question, the big midfielder has just completed a week’s trial with Charlton Athletic across the pond and no doubt, if offered a contract he will be on his way.
If that panned out that way he would be a huge loss to Athy. A player who many believe should be in the Kildare squad (at least) he is capable of winning a lot of ball around the middle and has a football brain that can be very advantageous when your team is under pressure.
David Hyland again shone for Athy in a game that never reached any great heights against Allenwood but one aspect of Athy’s game that will certainly need improving is their shooting, as they hit a clatter of wides in that game.
But having said that this is a talented Athy side as they showed last season and if they can get back to anything like last season’s form they will once again be a force to be reckoned with.
Athy get the vote here to set up a return game against Moorefield who defeated them in the opening round of this year’s championship.
Match prediction: Athy.
Athy 4/9; Clane 7/4; draw 7/1.
CONFEY v MAYNOOTH
These two sides would have been considered by many as outsiders in this year’s championship, yet here they are just 60 minutes from reaching the quarter final.
Confey had just two points to spare over Suncroft in round and while, on paper that may not be overly impressive, nevertheless any championship win instils confidence in a side and no doubt that will be a big help to the boys from the north of the county.
Maynooth, on the other hand were expected to push Carbury all the way in round two but that did not really materialise as last year’s beaten finalises proved too strong for the black and white clad team who had eight points to spare over Declan Cryan’s side.
Still, Maynooth had a fine run in the SFL and have in the likes of John Comerford, Conor Canning, the Ennis boys, DJ Canning players who are not lacking in talent and ability.
Confey will be hoping Hugh Lynch, Tomás and Michael McCann, Frank Ryder, Colm Chan and Eoin Fitzpatrick can deliver on the day but the vote on this one goes to Maynooth to advance and set up a meeting with Carbury once again in the quarter final.
Maynooth 5/6; Confey 5/6; 7/1 draw.
ST LAURENCE’S v.
St Laurence’s may have struggled to get over a poor Towers team in round two but nevertheless, on paper at least, they still look like a very useful outfit. Strong in defence, a decent midfield and a forward division that while it may not always deliver on their potential, nonetheless are capable of scoring goals, especially if the use the quick ball which they failed to do against Towers..
They did struggle to get in behind a packed Towers defence but when they did looked dangerous with players of the calibre of Dessie Lawler, Padraig Fogarty and Shaun Fahey in the full forward line. The Larries goal also had a fair bit of good fortune about as a mis-directed kick-out went straight to Dessie Lawler after the ball apparently fell from its ‘peg’ as the Towers keeper was about to kick it out.
Ballymore Eustace I must say played some excellent football and were very unlucky that did not at least get another bite at the cherry when going under by a single point to a fancied Celbridge outfit.
They played a very attractive game of football, have some excellent players throughout their team and have a fair bit of experience to match.
A Mark McCarville goal had the Ballymore men in the driving seat and while the sides were level at the break there were signs that Celbridge would not have it their own way from an early stage.
And that was how it panned out with the Kavanagh boys all impressing and wing back, Colin Clarke, not for the first time showing he has lots of speed and ability to attack from the half back line.
Most folk will be expecting St Laurence’s to book their quarter final spot and set up a game against Celbridge once again but this is one of those games that could go right down to the wire and while a hesitant vote goes to St Laurence’s, it is certainly far from certain that is how it will pan out.
Match prediction: St Laurence’s.
Match betting, St Laurence’s 2/5; Ballymore Eustace 7/4; 7/1 draw.
Odds: Cill Dara Betting