Joe Mallon SFC round two winners section
Many football people around Kildare had shouted this result earlier in the week as the prediction was that Celbridge are the coming team in this year's senior championship and have an array of players that will take some beating if they hit the right note together. They did that today for maybe 20 minutes altogether, essentially doing enough in the first half to ensure a lacklustre second half display would not haunt them.
They led by eight points after 31 minutes, but a failure to score from play from the 29th minute until the 64th meant that the reigning county champions were able to work their way back into the game, coming to within two points at one stage and having plenty of momentum. In the end a Paddy Brophy goal late in the day puts a more convincing image on the scoreline for a side that will probably enter the quarter-finals of the championship as the bookmakers' favourites.
For Sarsfields it is a case of regrouping for the third round. They looked defensively more solid than they did in their championship opener against Maynooth back in April, but a return of 12 points from 60 minutes of football will not be good enough if they hope to claim an historic third county title in a row this year.
Celbridge were vibrant and expressive throughout the opening half, playing an expansive brand of football that spread the Sarsfields backline all over the place and it was paying dividends. They raced into an early three-point lead as Shane Harte and David Hughes both slotted over points from free, while Paddy Brophy showed his class with a neat score from play.
Sarsfields came back into the tie as the reliable Ray Cahill floated over his first point from a free, before Alan Smith clipped over his side's first point from play in the game. The most even period of the game followed as Fergal Conway, Mick O'Grady and Kevin Flynn all pointed for Celbridge, while Cahill and Smith were both on target for the county champions as they looked to keep pace with Trevor O'Sullivan's men.
They had the look of winners about them however, and Celbridge went on a run until half-time that saw them completely take control of the game. Conway was especially instrumental for the north Kildare men as he was both a scoring threat and a willing runner from midfield- his battle with Matty Byrne was one of the most entertaining on the field. The county star fired over two superb long range points shortly before the half-time whistle, and those scores came after Hughes, Harte and David Byrne had all raised white flags in a sustained spell of dominance.
That pushed Celbridge into an 0-11 to 0-4 half-time lead, though it might have been substantially less had it not been for 'keeper Shane McNamara who pulled off a superb save to deny Dan Nea a certain goal.
Sarsfields needed a quick start to the second half if they were going to get back into the game, and while they did concede the first score of the half they managed to kick four points in succession as they searched to prize an opening back in. Hughes curled over a free within a couple of minutes of the restart, but they went completely flat after that and allowed the Sash to dominate proceedings. Smith showed up as a real leader and got their first score of the half, and also ended a spell of nine points in a row for their opponents, while Cahill chimed in with another point from a long range free.
Teenager Cian Costigan then showcased his talent with a splendid long range point off the outside of the boot that went over with the aid of the post, and another pointed free from Nea had the gap down to just four points with 20 minutes left to play. They were dealt a blow 12 minutes into the second half however, as youngster Conor Hartley, a member of Cian O'Neill's Kildare senior panel, was stretchered off following a long stoppage of play after he injured his knee in a clash with a Celbridge player.
Hughes was keeping the scoreboard ticking over ever so slowly for Celbridge as he floated over his fourth free of the game more than 15 minutes after their last score, but Sarsfields kept coming at them and were reeling them in ever closer. Cahill showed good strength to run at the Celbridge goal and hold off the challenge of Hugh McGrillen before sticking the ball over from close range, and a superb long range point from Nea pulled them ever closer. A brilliant score from the left wing from Alan Smith reduced the deficit to two as the Sarsfields following really began to get vocal for the first time in the game.
Hughes once again pointed a free to bring a bit of relief to the Celbridge cause, but a fabulous point from Cahill five minutes from time set up a grandstand finish. Celbridge rather professionally played the next seven or eight minutes without taking any risks, though they did strike a number of wides. They were playing the ball around midfield and making sure to keep hold of possession during the remainder of the game, and it wasn't until the fourth minute of added time that any sparked in their performance reignited. It came as Brophy collected the ball on the left touchline, ran 50 metres and shrugged off the challenge of Shea Ryan before thundering the ball into the roof of the Sarsfields net.
It was game over at that stage, though Conway did manage to knock over one final point in the last play to cap a fine scoring display from midfield.
Scorers for Celbridge: D Hughes 0-5f, P Brophy 1-1, F Conway 0-4, S Harte 0-2(1f), M O'Grady, K Flynn and D Byrne 0-1 each.
Scorers for Sarsfields: R Cahill 0-5(3f), A Smith 0-4, D Nea 0-2(1f), C Costigan 0-1.
S McNamara; D Wright(D McEvoy 64mins), M Konstantin, O Lyons; C Doyle, M O'Grady(D Corcoran HT), H McGrillen; F Conway, K Flynn; C Brophy, T Archbold, J Costello; S Harte(P Carty 57mins), D Hughes, P Brophy.
S Dempsey; C McConnell, S Ryan, S Lawlor; C Hartley(E O'Connor 45mins), D McDonnell, C McInerney Aspell; M Byrne(C Scanlon 65mins), C McDonnell; B McCormack, R Cahill, C Kavanagh; D Nea(D McKenna 60mins), R Fitzgibbon(R Confrey 53mins), A Smith.
If you have a story or want to send photos or videos to us please contact the KildareNow editorial team. via our Facebook, via our email at [email protected] or on 045 409350 during office hours.