Smithy excels as Caoimghín makes a late entrance again

THEY haven’t gone away you know. And they certainly showed that on Sunday when Sarsfields, after getting a mauling in the last quarter of the first half, regrouped after the break, upped the concentration levels and the work rate and hit Carbury with a brilliant goal mid-way through the second half, going on to deservedly win and take the Dermot Bourke back to Sarsfields Park for the first time since 2005, writes Tommy Callaghan.

THEY haven’t gone away you know. And they certainly showed that on Sunday when Sarsfields, after getting a mauling in the last quarter of the first half, regrouped after the break, upped the concentration levels and the work rate and hit Carbury with a brilliant goal mid-way through the second half, going on to deservedly win and take the Dermot Bourke back to Sarsfields Park for the first time since 2005, writes Tommy Callaghan.

Spare a thought for Carbury though. Two senior finals in a row and two defeats. Heartbreaking stuff.

But they remain a fine side.

A side that looked in trouble in the opening fifteen minutes, going behind 0-5 to 0-1 before clicking into gear and giving themselves an almighty chance when leading by two (0-7 to 0-5) at the break.

The Sash were rocking make no mistake about that.

Having dominated they suddenly were on the back foot unable to deal with some brilliant passing movements from Carbury that probably should have brought a goal, or even two.

But in fairness to The Sash lads they stood tall; refused to panic and once John Crofton got them into the dressingroom at half time, came out with renewed vigour, renewed determination and renewed belief.

No doubt their heads were down.

The break came at the worse possible time for the boys in blue and gold as they had gained the upper hand around the middle and were testing Sarsfields to the limit.

On a beautiful day before an attendance of 4,961 Sarsfiels team captain, Pádraig Brennan, certainly pointed his team in the right direction hitting the opening three points of the game as Carbury looked in danger of repeating that dreaded start of twelve months ago when they fell to two quick fire Athy goals.

This time around though, while their were no goals, they certainly looked vulnerable.

Under pressure at the back and with just two players up front they were finding it difficult to make any sort of an impact.

Although they scored their opening point of the game in the eight minute they nevertheless found themselves four in arrears as Alan Smith got two chances of points and took both, the second a brilliant effort from out wide on the right of the town goal.

Smith was causing problems every time the ball came in his direction.

He looked strong.

He looked hungry.

He looked the class player that he undoubtedly is and he was head and shoulder above most both in his movement, his reading of the game and his overall contribution to this win was immense.

Carbury continued to struggle and a measure of the Sarsfields dominance could be seen when Eoghan O’Flaherty gained possession some 50m out from the Sarsfields goal but was immediately surrouned and forced back 30m or so.

However once Willie Groome knockekd over a free on 15 minutes suddenly Carbury seemed to up a gear; the passing improved immeasurably and they tore into the Sarsfields defence with abandon.

Kenny McNamara got on the end of a brilliant four man move but his effort failed to find the target and went wide of Paddy O’Sullivan’s goal.

Carbury persisted however and looked very dangerous as Sarsfields began to foul under pressure and with a player of Eoghan O’Flaherty’s expertese around the punishment was as one would expect.

O’Flaherty reduced the deficit to two with frees before that great campaigner, Terry Rossiter knocked over the equaliser, his side’s first point from open play.

Andrew Dermody added another before O’Flahety (Eoghan) converted another free and suddenly Carbury were in the driving seat, leading by two and in control around the field as the half time whisitle came to Sarsfield’s aid.

The Newbridge boys did not overly delay at the break, re-emerging no doubt with John Crofton’s words of wisdom ringing in their ears and while a Gary White free cut the lead to one, even then there were few signs of what eventually would materialised.

TerryRossiter had the big Carbury attendance roaring once again when his long range effort cancelled out Chalky’s earlier point.

Sarsfields then began to move on the line. And it was, without doubt, the difference between the two teams. The depth of talent that Sarsfields have showed just what they have at their disposal.

Half time saw Dan Nea (unlucky not to start) come in; soon after Conor Walsh came in for Ray Cahill, who needed an injection prior to the game having picked up a knock in the semi final, a knock that persisted for the Sarsfields top scorer.

However with some 16 or 17 minutes remaining Crofton’s boys were still two adrift, Carbury having been very wasteful in front of goal hitting some six wides, so it was certainly all to play when Caoimghín McDonnell replaced Matty Byrne (Byrne also carried a knock into the game having gone over on his ankle in training mid-week).

McDonnell is a player that has loads of potential but injury has kept him sidelined for most of the championship and then when he recovered had to bide his time.

But his impact was vital.

His impact was crucial.

And his impact had a huge bearing on the game.

Picking up a ball close to the far line, he showed his carrying skill, but more importantly his pace as he tore through the Carbury defence like a hot knife on butter, the ball going through a few pairs of hands ending up in the Carbury net courtesy of DeclanMcKenna.

But it was McDonnell at his best.

A player capable of making a major impact on his day.

No doubt that extra bit of training a week earlier when he arrived, shall we say,‘later than expected’ for a training session, stood to him; on a day when no doubt his ears were as red as his manager’s annoyance.

McKenna’s goal was without doubt the turning point of this decider.

Carbury never recovered.

Sarsfields smelt victory.

Sensed they were on the right road.

And when any team gets into that position, if they are worth their salt at all they will kick on.

And that is exactly what The Sash did.

Three points on the trot and they were suddenly four clear and while David Cash, who had a fine game for Carbury, reduced it to three it was McKenna who again stretched it, this time with a brilliant point.

A minute later and the game was done and dusted when Declan McKenna was hauled down and up popped Conor Tiernan to convert the penalty and ensure the Dermot Bourke Cup was back in Sarsfields Park for another 12 months, at least.

No doubt the best team took the honours, they roared out of the traps; were hauled back and looked in trouble but then (eventually) kicked on emphasising once again that the team that has the numbers; the team that has the strength in depth; the team that can spring players of the calibre of Conor Walsh, Dan Nea and most especially Caoimghín McDonnell from the bench is the team that will win more than it will lose.

Sarsfields have a great blend of experience and youthful exuberance.

The experience of Conor Duffy, Pádraig Brennan, Alan Smith (man of the match), not forgetting Gary White and Robbie Confrey. The speed and tenacity of Conor Tiernan and Donnachdh (odd socks) McDonnel at the back while Shane Hurley and Seán Campbell also had their moments; Niall O’Callaghan certainly did not let the side down.

The alertness of Paddy O’Sullivan who again seen with a brilliant stop to deny David Cash right at the death.

Plus, of course, a bench that proved its worth big time on the day.

Add in the influence of Johnny Crofton and his backroom team, especially training coach John Doran, who proved once again there are few better to get a team into shape.

One can’t but feel for Carbury, they had some excellent displays. Daryl O’Brien excelled; no one worked harder than Terry Rossiter or the O’Flaherty boys. The two man full forwarad line of Kenny McNamara and Andrew Dermody threatened but still only managed a point between them while captain, David Cash left nothing on the field giving it everything.

Tough to lose two in a row but hopefully their day will come, few would begrudge them but that’s sport, that’s football, the joys, the heartbreak, the ups, the downs.

Now when the celebrations are over we can, hopefully, look forward to an extended run in the Leinster Club, who knows what will happed but no team will be overly anxious to take on the Newbridge boys, hopefully they will do themselves and the county proud in the weeks and months ahead.

The minor game saw hot favourites Celbridge requiring a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time to tie it up against a very young Towers side who gave it everything and can count themselves very very unlucky not to have clinched it but at least they have another day out and on Sunday’s display Celbridge will know that if they fail to bring their ‘A’ game with them on this second chance they will not succeed. A fine sporting game and if the replay is half as good, is one not to be missed.