JOHN Crofton’s Sarsfields booked their place in the AIB Leinster Club SFC with a fully deserved three point win over St. Patrick’s of Louth at St. Conleth’s Park, Newbridge, on Sunday afternoon, writes Tommy Callaghan.
AIB Leinster Senior Club Football Championship Quarter Final
St Patrick’s: 2-6
If anything the three point margin somewhat flattered the Louth champions, who defeated Offaly champions Rhode in the opening round, but this time around they had no answer to the Kildare champions who were never headed after a blistering start that saw them go into a five point lead after some ten minutes.
Pat’s did give themselves a chance when they hit 1-1 in injury time of the first half but on the resumption Sarsfields dictated the game and while they had a few hairy moments never really looked in any danger despite failing to kill off the opposition totally.
Sarsfields may have hit the opening wide of the game when Gary White missed the target with a ‘45’ within two minutes but from that point on The Sash hit five points from five shots at the target with flying wing back, Conor Tiernan getting the ball rolling after some four minutes.
Using their pace, accuracy and early dominance they added white flags from Gary White (free), Dan Nea, Matty Byrne and Alan Smith as St. Pat’s struggled to make any impact in front of their big and vocal travelling supporters.
Gary White found Ray Cahill with a brilliant long range kick pass and while the centre forward was fouled, captain Pádraig Brennan saw the resultant free drift wide of the target.
Niall O’Callaghan picked up a yellow for a harsh challenge as Pat’s finally made some inroads into Sarsfields territory, however Daniel O’Connor failed to find the posts having been set up by Darren O’Hanlon.
Eighteen minutes in and the Louth boys finally raised a white flag when Ray Finnegan split the posts after being set up by Eamon Carroll.
Ray Cahill stretched the Sash lead on 19 minutes with a free and two minutes later Alan Smith saw his blistering shot pushed on to the crossbar and over by Pats’ ‘keeper Seán Connor to make it 0-7 to 0-1.
Niall O’Callaghan did well to avoid a second yellow for a high challenge but was sensibly replaced by Ciarán McInerney Aspell on 23 minutes.
O’Callaghan’s absence had an adverse effect on the Sarsfields defence as they took a few minutes to regroup and reorganise but Pat’s did themselves no favours when substitute Kevin Toner clashed with Conor Tiernan as the ball was about to be hopped and the match official showed a red card to Toner who had been on the field a mere two minutes, although it has to be said it was indeed a very harsh red.
Then just before the break 14 man St. Pat’s got themselves right back into the game when Ray Finnegan set up his brother Dessie who hit a blistering shot past Patrick O’Sullivan in the Sarsfields goal and within a minute Paddy Keenan converted a free to leave the half time score reading Sarsfields 0-7 St. Patrick’s 1-2.
Ray Cahill punished the Louth boys for a foul on Pádraig Brennan on the resumption and when Matty Byrne split the posts after 35 the home side were now four clear.
Paddy Keenan, who had been quiet by his standards then made a fine catch, turned his man and split the posts.
At times Pats were playing with just Eoin O’Connor up front and then breaking at pace but Sarsfields were coping well and a fine move down the right wing saw captain Pádraig Brennan punch a point to leave four between them again.
Two Eamon Carroll frees reduced the deficit to two on 50 minutes and it was still all to play for and Pats had a chance to reduce it to the minimum but Carroll missed the target as the ball just drifted wide of the post. Caoimhghín McDonnell then bore down on goal, elected to pass to Alan Smith who looked for the net but his weak shot was cleared but two minutes later Ray Cahill found Robbie Confrey and the no. 14 made no mistake finding the net and when Cahill added two more points the game was all but done and dusted, 1-12 to 1-5.
A lapse of concentration saw Colin McCann nip in behind the Sarsfields defence to find the net and while Karl White added a point it was too little too late as the final whistle arrived Sarsfields advancing on a score line of 1-12 to 2-6.
A decent display from the Kildare champs, they got the perfect start and it proved decisive, however, they can expect a much stiffer task on Sunday week when they face Paul Curran’s Dublin champions, Ballymun Kickhams in Newbridge.
The winners had fine displays from Conor Duffy, Shane Hurley, Conor Tiernan; Matty Byrne and Gary White did well while up front was where the game was really won with some excellent scores with Ray Cahill getting right back on track with four points.
For Pat’s Dessie Finnegan, Paddy Keenan (although a bit patchy), Eoin O’Connor, and Ray Finnegan all had their moments.
Sarsfields, Ray Cahill 0-4 (2 frees), Robbie Confrey 1-0, Matty Byrne 0-2, Alan Smith 0-2, Conor Tiernan 0-1, Gary White 0-1 (free), Dan Nea 0-1, Pádraig Brennan 0-1
St. Patrick’s, Dessie Finnegan 1-0, Colin McCann 1-0. Paddy Keenan 0-2 (1 free), Eamon Carroll 0-2 (2 frees). Ray Finnegan 0-1, Karl White 0-1 (free).
Patrick O’Sullivan; Shane Hurley, Seán Campbell,Conor Duffy; Conor Tiernan, Niall O’Callaghan, Donnachadh McDonnell; Matty Byrne, Gary White; Declan McKenna, Ray Cahill, Dan Nea; Pádraig Brennan, cpt., Robbie Confrey, Alan Smith. Subs: Ciarán McInerney-Aspell for Niall O’Callaghan (23 minutes); Caoimghín McDonnell for Dan Nea (44 minute); Conor Walsh for Declan McKenna (53 minute); Michael Browne for Pádraig Brennan (59 minute).
Seán O’Connor; Jamie O’Hare, Dessie Finnegan, Darren O’Hanlon; Eamon Been, Colin Goss, Owen Zamboglou; Paddy Keenan, Paudie Mallon; Eamon Carroll, Eoin O’Connor, Aidan McCann; Ray Finnegan, Karl White, Daniel O’Connor. Subs: Kevin Toner for Aidan McCann (23 minutes); Alan O’Connor for Eamon Breen (48 minute); Colin McCann for Eoin O’Connor (57 minute);
Fergal Kelly, Longford.