SARSFIELDS regained the Leinster Leader Cup for the first time since 2007, when they defeated Celbridge at St. Conleth’s Park on Saturday evening last in a rip roaring game that saw the Newbridge side come from behind to deservedly win by six points, 2-15 to 2-9, writes Tommy Callaghan.
Leinster Leader Senior Football League Division 1 Final
The winning margin may be somewhat flattering but the message, nevertheless, was sent out loud and clear, John Crofton’s Sarsfields are on the march and with the SFC just around the corner they are the in form team and, without question, are one of the sides to beat, despite losing their opening game to Naas.
Having said that for long periods it was the boys from the north of the county, now managed by Paul Earley, who set the pace, were dominant in midfield and looked to be on their way to winning their first ever Leader Cup.
Sarsfields, to their credit didn’t panic, kept working away and finally kicked on in the final ten or twelve minutes to stamp their authority on proceedings to take the Leinster Leader Cup back to Sarsfields Park.
The boys in blue and white made the opening running with Mick Wright setting up Tom Fitzgerald for the opening point of the game and while Declan McKenna soon equalised Michael Konstantin had Celbridge back in front after ten.
The opening goal of the game arrived just a minute later with Shane Harte getting on the end of a sweeping move involving David Byrne, Michael Konstantin and Pádraig Fitzgerald.
Pádraig Brennan opened his account for the Sash but Michael Konstantin soon replied for Celbridge to leave it Celbridge 1-3 Sarsfields 0-3 after the opening quarter.
Gary White and David Byrne exchanged points before Declan McKenna tested Celbridge ‘keeper Shane McNamara who was equal to the task.
David Hughes was on hand, after a slow patient build up, to knock over while Ray Cahill converted a free, the ball having been brought forward for dissent.
Cahill soon repeated the dose after a vigilant referee spotted Alan Smith being pulled back off the ball but it was Celbridge who had the final say before the break with Robbie Hannon finding Shane Harte who made it Celbridge 1-6 Sarsfields 0-7 at the interval.
Shane Harte stretched the lead on the resumption before Gary White (free) and Declan McKenna left just a point between them as the game upped in pace.
Midway through and the sides were level when Padraig Brennan (class in abundance) raised the white flag to make it 1-7 to 0-10.
Celbridge sensed danger and responded immediately and emphatically with a long ball in by Shane Harte was brilliantly caught by Pádraig Fitzgerald who turned before lashing it to the net.
Within a minute Sarsfields had that goal wiped out when the influential Robbie Confrey made ground down the left wing, cut inside, off loaded to Declan McKenna who duly planted the ball in the Celbridge net to tie up the game with just ten minutes remaining.
Pádraig Brennan and Shane Harte exchanged points before Sarsfields took control. Brennan set up Conor Tiernan for a point before full back Sean Campbell burst out of his own half back line and with the Celbridge defence back peddling, came forward knocking over a brilliant point to make it 1-13 to 2-8.
Celbridge were in real trouble and the game was all but done and dusted when substitute Barry Coffey found Robbie Confrey who duly found the onion sack. And while Hugh McGrillen and Ray Cahill (free) exchanged points the last act of the final fell to Michael Browne who hit the final point of game leaving it Sarsfields 2-15 Celbridge 2-9.
A right good game and if the upcoming championship can reproduce games of this calibre we are in for a feast of good football.
Sarsfields will be more than happy with this win, they held their nerve, never panicked, were patient and their superior fitness had a telling effect. They had fine displays from Sean Campbell (man of the match), Conor Tiernan, Gary White, Declan McKenna and Padraig Brennan.
Celbridge best included David Byrne, Michael Konstantin, the Fitzgerald boys and Shane Harte who had a fine game throughout scoring 1-3.
Sarsfields, Robbie Confrey 1-3, Ray Cahill 0-3 (3 frees), Gary White 0-2 (2 frees), Padraig Brennan 0-2, Declan McKenna 1-2, Conor Tiernan 0-1, Sean Campbell 0-1, Michael Brown 0-1.
Celbridge, Shane Harte 1-3, Paul Fitzgerald 1-0, Michael Konstantin 0-2, David Byrne 0-1, David Hughes 0-1, Tom Fitzgerald 0-1, Hugh McGrillen 0-1.
Patrick O’Sullivan; Shane Hurley, Seán Hurley, Conor Duffy; Conor Tiernan, Gary White, Robert Murphy; Matty Byrne; Niall O’Callaghan; Declan McKenna, Ray Cahill, Dan Nea; Pádraig Brennan, Robbie Confrey, Alan Smith. Subs: Barry Coffey for Dan Nea (51 minute); Michael Browne for Conor Tiernan ( 59 minute); Aidan McLernan for Sean Campbell (62 minute).
Shane McNamara; Ollie Lyons, Rob Hannon, Michael Konstantin; Hugh McGrillen, Daragh McEvoy, Michael O’Grady; David Byrne, Mick Wright; David Hughes, Pádraig Fitzgerald, Niall Donnelly; Brendan Phillips, Tom Fitzgerald, Shane Harte. Subs: Paddy Brophy for David Hughes (44 minute); Barry Moyles for Mick Wright (47 minute); Cormac McEvoy for Brendan Phillips (52 minute);