IN the aftermath of Moorefield’s remarkable county final win over Celbridge, despite playing for two thirds of the game with 13 men, much was made of the spirit of those who stayed on the pitch and how they epitomised Moorefield’s spirit by digging in and grinding out a result.
What was perhaps overlooked was the role that Niall Hurley-Lynch played in the win. It was a role that he would neither have asked for or would have liked in an ideal world but when it came his way, he took it on the chin and did what was best for the team.
When Daryl Flynn and David White were sent off, Ross Glavin and the Moorefield management team were left in a quandary. They needed to get Ronan Sweeney’s powerful presence onto the field but of course in order to do that somebody had to make way with barely 20 minutes played in a county final. The fickle finger of fate fell on Hurley-Lynch and loathe as the Moorefield line were to sacrifice somebody who had scored four goals in the previous three Championship games, for the greater good of the team he had to make way.
There were no tantrums or complaining from Hurley-Lynch and despite his disappointment he was able to see the bigger picture.
“When the decision is made you’re initially disappointed, everybody wants to be playing on the big day but by half time you could see clearly and I knew it was the right decision. You want to play but for the team it was the right decision and it turned out to be the right call. You know what you are going to get with Roli and he was straight in there influencing the game, catching kick outs and stuff like that. The lads on the line got it right, as they have done all year.
“Things were just falling right for me this year and luckily the goals were going in. You want to show that off on the big days but at the end of the day all that really matters is the result. If I was told before the game that I’d only get 20 minutes but was guaranteed a win then I’d take that every time. With the way the game went there were plenty of other guys who might have played but didn’t because of the sendings off, it’s not just about me, there were lads that would have been hoping to play some part that didn’t get any game time at all,” said Hurley-Lynch.
His spectacular form this season is reward for the hard work he has put in since suffering a dreaded cruciate injury in 2015.
“It’s a lonely road coming back from that, it’s just you and the physio in the gym and you are just doing the same exercises day in day out. Then you are trying to get back on the pitch and compete with lads who are flying and have a lot more football under their belts. It’s a long lonely road. Moorefield are a good club like that though, they’d always have lads checking in on you, making sure you are okay and just keeping you involved.
“It’s always good to look back on it afterwards. You see guys like Mark Murray and Ian Meehan coming through and you’re kind of thinking, ‘Has my chance gone?’ so it was great to get back in the team, and then win as well,” said Hurley-Lynch.
After winning their eighth senior title since 2000, thoughts now turn to Leinster and Sunday’s quarter-final against Portlaoise in O’Moore Park. Moorefield are only one of only two Kildare clubs to have won a Leinster Senior Club title but Hurley-Lynch agrees that apart from that glorious triumph in 2006 Moorefield haven’t done themselves justice in the province.
“I never really looked at it until I did my cruciate but I had a time to look back over what I’ve won and I realised that we probably haven’t really won as much as we should have. I think with the amount of county titles that Moorefield has won we definitely should have been competing in more Leinster finals, we have let ourselves down as a group of players. It’s something that the management have said, that if we were lucky enough to get out of Kildare that we’d have to give Leinster a good crack because it’s not good enough to be coming out of Kildare and then failing year after year,” he said.
In 19 Leinster Championship games since 2000, Moorefield have won 10, drawn 3 and lost 6 and two of their last three campaigns have been ended at the hands of Sunday’s opponents, in 2010 and 2014.
“We always expect Portaloise to be in Leinster, they aren’t just strong in Laois, they are strong in Leinster. They have beaten us before and you have to give them plenty of respect, they have plenty of talented footballers down there. It’s always going to be tough playing away in Leinster but especially going to Portlaoise is tough. We just have to prepare as best we can and hopefully that will be enough to get us over the line,” said Hurley-Lynch.