Sarsfields 4-7 -
SARSFIELDS struck rich in front of goal as they were crowned the under-14 football champions of Kildare on Sunday.
The mighty Sash took down Newbridge rivals, Moorefield, thanks to superior shooting display that had them in the winners’ enclosure long before the finish. Moorefield’s only consolation was a late penalty from midfielder Jo Jo Conlon.
After a slow start to the game, the winners took control after 20 minutes when impressive centre-forward Kevin Kyne raced through the Moores’ defence for the game’s first goal. It was quick-thinking from Kyne after Moorefield centre-back Jason Brogan was penalised for touching the ball on the ground. Kyne sprinted through after a quick free before finishing in style.
Sarsfields added three more points before half-time with captain Tony Keogh landing two while nippy corner-forward Daragh Ryan got the best score of the half at the end of an excellent team move by the Sash. Keogh’s third point, the final score of the first half, put Sarsfields six points clear at the break, 1-4 to 0-1.
Things went from bad to worse for Moorefield as they conceded a second goal just two minutes after the interval. Sarsfields captain Tony Keogh was on target again as he won a Moorefield kickout before soloing through for the first of his two goals.
The Moores showed great character to get the next score – a fine goal from plucky full-forward Robbie Higgins – but the Sash accelerated clear in the next ten minutes, scoring two more goals.
After wing-back Brian McDonald stitched a neat point, Kevin Kyne netted his second goal while captain Keogh secured the win with a fourth goal, from the penalty spot, in the 48th minute.
Moorefield never gave up and got some reward for their hard work when captain Jo Jo Conlon slotted a penalty in the final minute but it was too little, too late against a superior Sarsfields side.
“It’s our third Féile in four years. We’re getting used to it,” said a delighted Sarsfields manager, Pat Maher, after the game.
“We prepare early,” he added, explaining the secret of the club’s success. “As soon as the under-13 league is finished in August, we knuckle down to Féile training straight away so we train them hard and we get senior footballers to come in and do the coaching.”
Alongside Maher on the management team were Joe O’Malley and Michael Browne, who are the latest senior players to follow the Sarsfields’ policy of working with the club’s juvenile teams.
“That policy of underage coaching has worked for the last four or five years,” said Maher. “It’s part of the policy to get former senior footballers and present senior footballers involved.”
Clearly it’s a strategy that’s succeeding and team captain, Tony Keogh, has renjoyed working with the club’s senior players.
“It’s good to have senior players from the club because they know what they’re talking about,” said Keogh, who proudly raised the trophy to a raucous reception from family and friends outside the dressing room. Keogh, a first year student at Patrician’s in Newbridge, will be counting down the last few weeks of school until he leads his team at this year’s national Féile in Derry.
“Hopefully we’ll get through the last few weeks of school fairly quickly and we’ll hopefully make the county proud by bringing back a bit of silverware from Derry,” he said.
For the club’s coaches and supporters, there is plenty to worry about between now and 28 June, when Féile Peil na nÓg begins in Derry.
“It’s exciting and costly. It costs eight or nine grand now to bring a team to a Feile between hiring coaches and new jerseys and tracksuits, the whole lot but it’s a nice headache to have,” said manager Pat Maher, who knew his team had a great chance of capturing the Kildare title after beating the favourites in the semi-final.
“Eight of this team was on the Féile team last year and we were beaten in the semi-final by a point so we knew they’d have a good chance this year. The big game was the semi-final against Carbury. They were favourites to win it. They had beaten us twice this year but we got them eventually when it mattered.”
And when it mattered most, the young stars from Sarsfields produced the goods to win this year’s Féile A title.
SARSFIELDS: Cian McQuillan; Stephen Hughes, Graham Donoghue, Adam Donoghue; Brian McDonald 0-1, Stephen Brennan, Conor Murphy; Eoin Kiernan, Tony Keogh 2-4 (1-0pen, 0-1f); Colm Hartnett, Kevin Kyne 2-0, Niall O’Connor; Daragh Ryan 0-2, Michael Ukuchuku, Conor McHugh. Subs: Eoin Fisher for Ukuchuku, 45; Cian Connelly for McHugh, 53; Joe Dunlop for Hartnett, 55; Cian Harvey for Kiernan, 57; Karl Hartley for O’Connor, 59.
MOOREFIELD: James Drealing; Tom Harrington, Sean Kerr, Conor Cassidy; Daniel Hannify, Jason Brogan, Michael Rooney; Jo Jo Conlon 1-1 (1-0pen, 1f), Padraig Smith; Evan Flanagan, Ian Dunne, Evan O’Brien 0-1; Sean McDonell, Robbie Higgins 1-0, Adam Meehan 0-1. Subs: Sean Morrissey for Smith, 42; Cormac Watters for Cassidy, 49; Brendan Kelly for McDonnell, 49; Jack Liston for Flanagan, 54; Conor Darby for Higgins, 55.
REF: Killian Jones