Joe Mallon SFC round one
If Paul Doyle and his Maynooth players were told before this game that they would score 4-11 against the reigning champions in Newbridge they would have bitten the proverbial hand off, but a porous defence effectively rendered their attack as almost kamikaze-like, with Sarsfields racking up 3-22 in an impressive opening to the defence of their title.
Robbie Confrey and Ray Cahill combined for 2-7 from play, while the midfield duo of Caoimghin McDonnell and Matty Byrne contributed a healthy 1-4 to the county champions' tally as they attacked from all angles.
There was a real sense that the first big upset of the 2017 championship could arrive in Newbridge on Sunday evening as Sarsfields began the defence of the Dermot Bourke Cup without a whole host of regulars against a Maynooth side that is really up and coming and features four county footballers among its ranks.
John Crofton's side is much changed from the one that won the 2015 county title, with the influx of talented youth being a major part of that, but there were still some of the old reliables that the manager would have liked to have called upon.
On Maynooth's part, manager Paul Doyle was able to name Kildare hurler Cian Forde in his starting lineup just over four hours after lining out for the Lilywhites in the Christy Ring Cup against Carlow.
Much like in the second round fixture when these two sides clashed last year, it was Maynooth who stormed into the ascendancy with a goal after less than 60 seconds. It was a sweeping move that culminated in Danny O'Sullivan playing Chris Canning in on goal, allowing the corner-forward to find the onion bag from close range.
Sarsfields weren't rocked by that poor start though, and a couple of close range points from Robbie Confrey and Cian Costigan - making his senior championship debut - settled the Sash into the game. County star Neill Flynn fired over a free for Maynooth, but Sarsfields struck the next three scores in a row through, with a Matty Byrne goal the most important of them. Ray Cahill pointed from play and from a free either side of Byrne's cool finish after he had been played in by Costigan, and Sarfields were all of a sudden 1-4 to 1-1 up.
Flynn stopped their momentum momentarily at the other end by kicking over his second free, but Caoimghin McDonnell and Cahill both landed beautiful scores to further supplement their side's lead. Maynooth could have found the net again in the 16th minute when John McAndrew broke through on goal, but the midfielder skewed his effort over Sean Campbell's crossbar.
Sarsfields went down the other end of the field and scored three points in a row through Confrey and two from Costigan, one of which was a rebound after Mark Donnellan made a fine save on Dan Nea's powerful goalbound effort.
Maynooth were six points down at this point, but they impressively grabbed a lifeline when McAndrew's second point was followed up by a fine Danny O'Sullivan goal after he burst through the Sash defence. They should have kicked on from that point, but Sarsfields show the touch of champions to finish the first half with a flurry and effectively end the tie as a contest.
A couple of brilliant left wing points from McDonnell either side of a third point from Confrey helped to pan out the Sash lead, before goalkeeper Sean Campbell landed a long range free to put them 1-13 to 2-4 ahead. Ray Cahill then put the game beyond the north Kildare men when he brought the ball in from the right wing and swerved a stunning left-footed effort into the top corner of Mark Donnellan's goal to leave the Kildare 'keeper with no chance.
Maynooth could have done with a quick start to the second half, and they almost got it when Paddy Hever broke through on goal, but he was denied by Campbell, and, rather predictably, Sarsfields went up to score a couple of points through Con Kavanagh and Dan Nea, widening the gap to 11 points and looking home and hosed at that stage.
Maynooth staged a couple of fightbacks however, never waving the white flag in the face of serious Sarsfields pressure. Hever netted a goal in the 40th minute, and when that was followed by points from O'Sullivan, Flynn and Canning, they trailed by four points and there was still 17 minutes left to play. Sarsfields quelled the rebellion with 1-2 in the space of three minutes however, with Confrey adding a somewhat fortuitous goal to his tally for the day along with a point of his own and a superb run and score from substitute Darran McHugh.
Flynn netted a stunning individual goal for the losers to offer them some hope with 10 minutes to go, but the two-time champions finished strongly through scores from Nea, Cahill and McHugh to see the game out with eight points to spare.
Scorers for Sarsfields: R Cahill 1-5(2f), R Confrey 1-4, C McDonnell 0-4, C Costigan 0-3, M Byrne 1-0, D Nea and D McHugh 0-2 each, S Dempsey and C Kavanagh 0-1 each.
Scorers for Maynooth: N Flynn 1-6(6f), C Canning and D O'Sullivan 1-1 each, P Hever 1-0, J McAndrew 0-2, J Flattery 0-1.
S Dempsey; E O'Connor(S Lawlor 25mins), S Ryan, A Scully; C Hartley, D Hartley, C McInerney Aspell(D McDonnell 53mins); M Byrne(C Scanlon 45mins), C McDonnell; C Kavanagh, R Cahill, R Fitzgibbon(D McHugh 41mins); D Nea, R Confrey, C Costigan.
M Donnellan; D Maguire, M Hogan, C Forde(T Forde bc 55mins); S Higgins, D McAvinue, A McAndrew; J McAndrew, C Canning; D O'Sullivan, P Hever(J Flattery 44mins), R Ó'Giolláin; S Sinclair(B Agunsoye 40mins), N Flynn, C Canning.
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