St Laurence's 1-12
Joe Mallon SFC round one
It may have taken until the final game of the opening round, but we finally have a shock in this year's senior championship after a brilliant effort from Clane saw them gun down St Laurence's in stunning fashion. The scoreboard doesn't tell the full story as the victors led by six points in added time, and only for Chris Fenner's late penalty goal the margin would have remained wide enough to do Clane's performance justice.
They won't care one jot though. To a man they were absolutely fantastic in every department, whether it be their corner-backs winning balls on front of their men, their midfielders catching vital marks and scrapping for every loose ball or their effervescent forwards who revolved around the irresistible Brian McLoughlin, the undoubted star of the show.
He finished with eights points, three of which came from play, and his display belied his tender years as last year's Kildare minor captain led a senior team to their most impressive win in senior championship football in quite a few years. It was fitting that their supporters stayed long enough to clap their young team off the pitch following their heroics, and they will be a confident side when they stride into the second round of the championship in August.
The opening quarter of this game was a pretty tough watch as the ball seemed to be sucked towards the middle third for the most part, and it was hardly surprising that there were just three points scored during the first 17 minutes, with St Laurence's holding the slender advantage.
Padraig Fogarty opened the scoring early doors, and Larries could have found the net soon after when Fogarty slipped Chris Fenner through on goal, but the usually clinical forward had his shot saved by Clane 'keeper Eoin Kelly. Fenner did score a point moments later, but they failed to score again for the next 20 minutes as their attack became incredibly blunt.
Clane grew into the game and their confidence began to soar as the likes of Cian O'Donoghue, Eoin Naughton, Robbie Hyland and Brian McLoughlin provided the energy for the men in white, and it was the latter who opened their account for the evening when he landed a brilliant point from 45 metres out. Just like their opponents, Clane were guilty of passing up a glorious goal chance when Hyland weaved his way through, only to cut across the ball quite badly from close range, sending his shot miles wide.
They did rustle the back of Shane Connolly's net soon after however, though there was a massive slice of fortune about it. Corner-back Conor Doyle found himself 25 metres from goal, and with his poor attempt of a point destined to drop well short, Larries' defender Niall Clynch got a partial block on it which deflected it in off the upright.
The confidence seemed to flow through Kieran McMenamin's young side from that point onwards, and McLoughlin sailed over a stunning point from a sideline ball to surge three points ahead. The same man then kicked over a free soon after, but that signalled the end of their purple patch. St Laurence's, playing well below their best, stayed in the game with a couple of quickfire points from Fogarty and Sean Fahey, with the former's being the best score his side kicked all day as he curled over a fine effort from the right wing.
An even more impressive point arrived at the opposite end of the ground when Jack McCreevy pierced the posts from long range out on the right wing to push his side three points clear once again, but a converted free from Fogarty on the stroke of half-time sent the sides in with Clane leading by 1-4 to 0-5.
While there was a sense that a shock could be on the cards at the halfway stage, most in the ground still felt that St Laurence's would find a way to victory in the second half by somehow grinding out the result. Clane were not going to go away however, and McLoughlin opened their second half account with a close range free to get his side up and running. Two accurate efforts from placed balls from Fogarty kept Larries within touching distance, but Clane began to really motor during the middle period of the second half.
McLoughlin landed an exquisite point from distance to the left of the posts, before slotting over another from a free, and then came a goal which would ultimately decide the outcome of this game, and what a goal it was. Hyland took possession 60 metres from goal, jinked expertly between two defenders and lofted a brilliant pass into the bread basket of Chris Byrne. He carried the ball a short distance before playing it out to Kyle Devey who placed the ball under the body of Connolly and into the Larries' net to send his side 2-8 to 0-8 clear. Fogarty and Jack McCreevy swapped points from frees at either end, before St Laurence's enjoyed what was their best spell of the game.
It was only brief, but Shaun Fahey landed two excellent long range scores before Padraig O'Neill kicked a monstrous point from 50 metres out, cutting the gap to four points with 12 minutes left to play and they looked poised to strike. It wasn't to be though, as Clane finished the game superbly.
McCreevy confidently struck a long range free between the posts to settle any nerves, before McLoughlin fired over his eighth point of the evening with a superb effort despite being under intense pressure to put six between the sides and leave the game beyond Larries.
Fenner struck 1-1 late on for Gavin Wynne's side, but Clane had put in enough work by that stage to deal with the late scores and emerge with victory.
Scorers for St Laurence's: P Fogarty 0-6(5f), C Fenner 1-2(1f), S Fahey 0-3, P O'Neill 0-1.
Scorers for Clane: B McLoughlin 0-8(4f, 1SL), J McCreevy 0-3(2f), K Devey and C Doyle 1-0 each.
S Connolly; N Clynch(E O'Neill 30mins), E Clifford, A Stynes; S O'Driscoll(S Murphy 41mins), T O'Neill, S Mann; P O'Neill, D O'Driscoll; J McHugh, S Fahey, K O'Brien; C Fenner, P Fogarty, J Lawlor(A Dunne 54mins).
E Kelly; B Corbett, P Regan, C Doyle; T Montgomery, C O'Donoghue, C Egan; S Christiansen, E Naughton; J McCreevy, R Hyland, C Byrne; K Devey, B McLoughlin, P Doyle.
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