AND still the wait goes on. The wait being of course St. Laurence’s seeking their first ever win in the SFC against Sarsfields and while they came close on Sunday in Hawkfield in this season’s MDY semi final it was, once again, close but no cigar as Sarsfields deservedly booked their place in the decider and a clash with Carbury on a score line of Sarsfields 1-11 St. Laurence’s 1-9, writes Tommy Callaghan.
MDY Construction Senior Football Championship Semi Final
St Laurence’s: 1-9
It may not have been the greatest semi final of the last few seasons but it was certainly rivetting stuff from start to finish, it was close, it was tantalising and while it could possibly have gone either way, at the end of the day the honours went where they belong to the Newbridge boys who are now firmly on course to take their first senior crown since 2005.
The game got off to a blistering start with The Larries attacking from the throw-in cutting open the Sarsfields defence. Gary White’s high tackle on Shaun Fahey saw referee Liam Herbert point to the spot.
Sarsfields fans breathed a sigh of relief on two counts though, the first the Sarsfields midfield dynamo escaping a yellow card and the second a brilliant save by Patrick O’Sullivan, his third penalty stop in this year’s championship.
The ball broke however and when Pádraig Fogarty gathered, he turned and opened the scoring, and all within three minutes of the start.
The fine attendance had just about settled in as Gary White faced up to his county team mate Pádraig O’Neill with Tommy O’Neill getting the task of looking after Ray Cahill.
Fogarty converted a free on five to extend the lead but it did not take long before Sarsfields opened their scoring with an excellent Alan Smith effort after nine.
It was real cat and mouse stuff in the early stages as both teams were understandably being cautious but Dessie Lawlor cut inside the Sarsfields defence and while a point looked more on, the county panelist decided to go for goal but again O’Sullivan was equal to the task and knocked it out for a 45, comfortably coverted by Pádraig Fogarty to make it 0-3 to 0-1 after ten minutes.
The Larries were just about shading it at this stage and another attack saw Shaun Fahey with a simple point opportunity but he too elected to find the net and this brought a brilliant block from Conor Duffey. Pádraig Fogarty gathered the breaking ball, and while he tried to put Fahey in again with an overhead pass the Sarsfields defence stood tall and cleared the danger much to the delight of big Sarsfields attendance.
Gary White, after fine work by Michael Browne, hit a fine point to reduce the deficit and when Pádraig O’Neill was dispossed, Gary White and Conor Tiernan combined for Robbie Confey to square up the game at three apiece after 21 minutes.
Within two minutes The Sash were in front for the first time when Gary White converted a ‘45’ after Eoin Clifford had punched the ball away from Alan Smith as he made inroads along the end line.
Chalky White was now beginning to take a stranglehold around the middle but still The Larries came back when a quick Pádraig Fogarty free saw Shaun Fahey level up matters with 26 minutes gone.
The tackles were coming in with intensity as the fans of both teams were emptying their lungs as Chalky White wins a real dirty ball to avert danger. Michael Browne gains possession out on the left wing, sends in a high ball, brilliantly caught by Robbie Confrey, who turns and splits the posts to edge The Sash ahead by one.
Ray Cahill picked up an injury as he seemed to go over on his ankle as Gary White also hit the deck but both are soon up and at it as we approach half time.
A great fetch by Pádraig O’Neill, who off loads to Ronnie Lawlor who in turns sets up Richie Ryan and the big midfielder levels them up at 0-5 apeice as the half time whistle arrives.
Pádraig Fogarty nudges The Larries ahead with a free some 30 seconds on the resumption but the game is soon tied up again after Conor Tiernan was illegally stopped in his tracks and Gary White makes no mistake from some 43m.
An attack down the right wing and this time Pádraig Brennan combines with Dan Nea and when the youngster is fouled up steps his captain, Pádaig Brennan to nudge his side ahead by one.
Sarsfields are now beginning to get a grip around the middle again and with their half back line in alert mode they are restricting The Larries big time but just when you felt The Sash were about to put a bit of day light between the sides back come the boys from the south and a long ball in by Mark Finnegan is gathered by Pádraig Fogarty who fires it high and over to level up again.
A minute later and Sarsfields move into the driving seat. Dan Nea finds Conor Tiernan and the flying wing back makes ground down the right wing before putting in a dangerous ball to the square.
Shane Connolly looks like he is coming to clear but hesitates, the ball is gathered by Alan Smith and no better man to finish than Smith in those situations and Sarsfields open a three point lead with the perfect goal, 1-7 to 0-7.
Shaun Fahey, from an acute angle reduced the lead on 42 minutes before Eoin Clifford, who had a fine game, cleared a dangerous situation as Robbie Confrey and Alan Smith were about to pounce.
Sarsfields now with their tails up come back for more. Dan Nea cuts inside Tommy O’Neill but Karl O’Brien is there to cut out another dangerous situation.
Back come St. Laurence’s down the far wing and a great ball from JP Byrne sees Shaun Fahey gain ground, off load to Dessie Lawlor who blasts to the net and give his side a one point lead.
Chalky White picks up a yellow after a heavy tackle on Karl O’Brien before Matty Byrne, with a delightful turn, makes space for himself and fires over to tie up the game again with nine remaining.
The fat is now firmly in the fire, and at this stage you couldn’t rule out a draw but Sarsfields were not thinking along those lines as Alan Smith capitalised on a terrible clearance to put his side back on top and two minutes later Ray Cahill, who had been kept quiet throughout got away from his marker and sent over a delightful point to put two in it with five left.
A briliant move by The Larries, now under severe pressure saw substitute John Fogarty punch a point to get it back to the minium.
The tension was rising, the odds were high with a place in the final just around the corner when Conor Tieran, using his speed ran at the Larries defence teasing defenders and eventually he drew the foul and up stepped Pádraig Brennan to send over and leave it 1-11 to 1-9 on the hour.
St. Laurence’s came in search of a goal and very nearly got one but Patrick O’Sullivan managed to smother the ball and when Shaun Fahey picked up the lose ball his effort was blocked by Pádraig Brennan as the full time whistle arrived to end an exilerating and tension filled game with Sarsfiels worthy winners, if only just, but nevertheless worthy of a place in the decider and a clash with Carbury.
Fasten your seat belts it could be a thriller!
Lots of good performances but none better than Gary White, who had a blinder for Sarsfields and was without question the man of the match.
Sarsfields, Alan Smith 1-2, Gary White 0-3 (45, free), Robbie Confrey 0-2, Pádraig Brennan 0-2 (2 frees), Matty Byrne 0-1, Ray Cahill 0-1.
St. Laurence’s, Pádraig Fogarty 0-5 (3 frees, 45), Dessie Lawler 1-0, Shaun Fahey 0-2, Richie Ryan 0-1, John Fogarty 0-1.
Patrick O’Sullivan; Shane Hurley, Seán Campbell, Conor Duffy; Conor Tiernan, Niall O’Callaghan, Donnachadh McDonnell; Matty Byrne, Gary White; Michael Browne, Ray Cahill, Dan Nea; Pádraig Brennan, Robbie Confrey, Alan Smith. Subs: Caoimhín McDonnell for Dan Nea (47 minute); Conor walshfor Michael Browne (48 minute).
Shane Connolly; Karl O’Brien, Niall Clynch, Eoin Clifford; Mark Finnegan, Tommy O’Neill, Pádraig Kearney; Pádraig O’Neill, Richie Ryan; Ronan Lawlor, JP Byrne, Tomás Doyle; Shaun Fahey, Dessie Lawlor, Pádraig Fogarty. Subs: Barry Mackey for Tomás Doyle (39 minute); John Fogarty for Dessie Lawlor (55 minute); Ivan Keatley for JP Byrne (57 minute).