Naas Cathal Daly holds off the challenge of Barry Coffey Sarsfields
Joe Mallon Motors Senior Football Championship quarter-final
A great attendance at St Conleth's Park on Sunday witnessed a game to remember with champions Naas, digging deep to get themselves out of what at half-time looked a major problem when trailing to Sarsfields by all of six points.
And it looked even a bigger a problem when they were initially reduced to 14 men when Naas' Darragh Kirwan was shown a second yellow. soon followed by a black for Alex Beirne.
But it wasn't just the deficit that had Naas in serious problems at half-time, it was the fact that Sarsfields had dominated practically all over the field with the aid of a strong breeze blowing into the town end.
Sarsfields manager, Davy Burke, again used Tadhg Hoey on the edge of the opposition's square and it certainly proved very beneficial as the big man caused a mountain of trouble every time the ball was delivered.
Sarsfields opened brightly with points from Daragh Ryan and Barry Coffey after Tadhg Hoey knocked down the ball to the centre forward.
It took Naas seven minutes before they opened their accoount scoring after a foul on Tom Browne, converted by keeper Luke Mullins.
Callum Bolton increased the lead on ten. Another long ball in saw Alan Smith's effort brilliantly blocked by Ciaran Doyle.
Eamonn Callaghan dropped a free short before Sarsfields upped their game again hitting points from Ben McCormack (a lovely effort), Barry Coffey and McCormack again to lead 0-6 to 0-1 mid-way through.
Naas hit another few wides as their overall play must have been a major worry for their manager Joe Murphy.
On 21 minutes the champs got their second score of the day, again from a free and again from the boot of keeper Mullins but when Eamonn Callaghan got his side's first and only score from open play of the first half the lead was cut back to three points.
An accidental clash between Tom Browne and Barry Coffey held up matters as both needed attention.
Another hold-up saw Brian Byrne requiring attention but while he looked a bit shook the Naas no. 3 continued.
Ben McCormack fired over another to extend the lead before Darragh Kirwan and Tom Aspell both picked up yellows.
Sarsfields finished the half impressively with points from Alan Smith and a Ben McCormack 45 to lead at the break 0-9 to 0-6.
Despite playing into the strong wind in the second half Sarsfields were looking good, looked more focused, finding their men better while Naas simply struggled all over the pitch.
Come the second half and what an immediate transformation for the champions as they took control around the middle and suddenly began to find the range led by Eamonn Callaghan who had an absolute cracking second half, practically lifting his side off the floor single handedly.
Ciaran Doyle got the first of Naas scores, soon followed by an Eamonn Callaghan free as Shea Ryan picked up a yellow.
Dermot Hanafin, converted a cross field pass from Eamonn Callaghan and Callaghan converted another free to leave just two between them after just six minutes.
Naas were pushing up on the Sarsfields kick-out forcing Courtney-Byrne to go long which suited Naas big time.
Naas were then hit with a major blow when Darragh Kirwan was (rightly) given a second yellow for a clumsy tackle.
The momentum was with Naas though and Eamonn Callaghan left one separating them as Sarsfields struggled all over the field to gain any meaningful possession.
Then 43 minutes in Naas were hit with another big blow when Alex Beirne was (rightly) given a black card by referee Billy O'Connell as he did a rugby style tackle on Callum Bolton.
Naas now down to 13 but it matter little and while they hit a few wides it was that man Eamonn Callaghan who drew the sides level before Ciaran Doyle had the champs in front on 50 minutes.
An incredible turnaround but there was more to come.
A minute later in a rare Sarsfields second half attack Barry Coffey found Con Kavanagh and Sarsfields wing back fired past Luke Mullins to regain the lead, much to the delight of the big Sarsfields following.
Alex Beirne returned to the fray as Naas refused to panic and once again Eamonn Callaghan had the lead back to one with a converted free.
Ben McCormack steadied the Sarsfields ship with a fine effort on 55 minutes.
Kevin Cummins was introduced by Naas as the champions attacked down the middle and while Sean Cullen found The Sash net, referee O'Connell had blown for a foul on Dermot Hanafin, and pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Cummins and as cool as you could get, the man who only sat his Leaving Cert in the summer, hit it perfectly sending Marc Courtney-Byrne the wrong way as Naas regained the lead 1-11 to 1-10, 57 minutes on the clock.
Eamonn Callaghan added a point; quickly followed by a Paddy McDermott similar score and while Ben McCormack replied, the final score of the game came from Kevin Cummins just after Barry Coffey, who had picked up a yellow minutes earlier, was given a black and a red.
Incredible game and one mighty performance from the champions as they booked a semi-final spot against Celbridge on a final score line of Naas 1-14 Sarsfields 1-11.
Scorers: Naas, Eamonn Callaghan 0-7 (3 frees), Kevin Cummins 1-1 (penalty), Luke Mullins 0-2 (2 frees), Ciaran Doyle 0-2, Paddy McDermott 0-1, Dermot Hanafin 0-1.
Sarsfields, Ben McCormack 0-6 (one 45), Barry Coffey 0-3, Con Kavanagh 1-0, Daragh Ryan 0-1, Alan Smith 0-1.
NAAS: Luke Mullins; Cathal Daly, Brian Byrne, Mark Maguire; Paddy McDermott, Eoin Doyle, Tom Browne; James Burke, Eoin Doyle, Conor McCarthy; Alex Beirne, Sean Hanafin, Dermot Hanafin; Eamonn Callaghan, Darragh Kirwan, Ciaran Doyle. Subs: Brian Kane for Sean Hanafin (half-time); Sean Cullen for Sean McDermott (47 minutes): Tim Ryan for Tom Browne (56 minutes); Kevin Cummins for Conor Doyle (57 minutes); Brian Stynes for Dermot Hanafin (62 minutes).
SARSFIELDS: Marc Courtney-Byrne; Shea Ryan, Tom Aspell, Ethan Mountaine; Ciaran McEnerney-Aspell, Kieran Dwyer, Con Kavanagh; Tadhg Hoey, Gary White; Daragh Ryan, Barry Coffey, Ben McCormack; Callum Bolton, Alan Smith, Colm Hartnett. Subs: David Higgins for Tom Aspell (39 minutes); Ray Cahill for Alan Smith (46 minutes); Fergal Durkan for Callum Bolton (53 minutes): Karl Hartley for Ethan Mountaine (57 minutes).
REFEREE: Billy O'Connell.
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