Kildare Senior Football League Division 1 final
Niall Kelly landed five points from play as Athy won their first ever Division 1 League title and dethroned 2017 champions Moorefield in the process.
The Kildare star was superb in the second half as he chipped in with four points, while the defensive display from the south Kildare side provided the platform for an impressive win.
Moorefield finished with 14 men after Ronan Sweeney received a straight red card in the 63rd minute following a clash with Barry Kelly, who was shown a black card for his part in the incident.
Moorefield began this game with a host of their regulars starting on the bench as manager Ross Glavin obviously wanted to stick with the players who featured so heavily for the reigning champions in the league.
Athy had their full cohort of county panellists back in tandem, and a pair of them combined straight from throw-in to set up the first score. Kevin Feely knocked it down to Pascal Connell and he ploughed through on goal only to see his shot saved on the line and tipped over by defender Liam Callaghan. Liam McGovern knocked over a point from a free shortly afterwards for Athy, before James Murray got the Moores up and running in the fourth minute with a good score.
Hughie Mahon shipped a few challenges before slotting over Athy’s third of the afternoon, which was quickly cancelled out at the other end by Mark Murray’s first point of the day from a placed ball. David Hyland restored the two-point cushion for Athy when breaking in from the right and curling over a lovely effort off his left boot, but the game entered an 11-minute lull period after that as neither side hit the target.
Moorefield pulled level thanks to a couple of points in quick succession from Mark McDermott, his 26th minute score coming after a sustained spell of possession for the Moores in which the ball passed through the hands of at least eight or nine players.
Athy responded well towards the end of the half as James Eaton dispatched a difficult free from the left wing before Niall Kelly floated over a fine effort under pressure. Mark Murray’s score with the last kick of the half meant that Athy’s lead was cut to one by the break as they went in leading 0-6 to 0-5.
Athy, shooting into the Kilcullen End, took less than a minute to get the first score of the second half as Kelly rifled over his second of the day, but the evergreen Ronan Sweeney with a sublime curling effort from under the stand for Moorefield. There was some debate over Kevin Feely’s 34th minute point as it looked to have gone wide, and though the linesman flagged it as a wide, referee Billy O’Connell sided with his umpires who raised the white flag. Another point from the industrious Kelly was followed by a score from McGovern as Athy opened up a four-point lead by the 38th minute.
Ross Glavin began to roll in the big guns from the bench in the hopes of inspiring a comeback, with Aaron Masterson, Adam Tyrrell and Mark Dempsey all coming in, and they certainly made an impact. McDermott continued his fine outing by stroking over his third point of the day, before Tyrrell swivelled and hit the target with a beautiful effort from distance as the Moores began to turn the screw. When Sweeney fired over a 53rd minute point to draw Moorefield to within one of their opponents it looked like their upwards trajectory would grind out another win, but Athy steadied the ship on the home straight.
Eaton slammed over their first score for 17 minutes when he nailed a difficult free, and Kelly burst through with two minutes of normal time remaining to fist over a point that left Moorefield needing a goal. A stubborn wall of red met Moorefield men as they attacked, and in the final stages they had Ronan Sweeney sent off for lashing out at Barry Kelly after he dragged the veteran forward down. Athy saw it out quite comfortably in the end as Kelly landed one more fabulous point to cap a fine individual display.
Scorers for Athy: N Kelly 0-5, J Eaton(2f) and L McGovern(2f) 0-2 each, P Connell, K Feely, D Hyland and H Mahon 0-1 each.
Scorers for Moorefield: M McDermott 0-3, M Murray(2f), A Tyrrell(1f) and R Sweeney 0-2 each, J Murray 0-1.
Stephen Davis; Killian Mulhall, David Hyland, Conor Ronan; Mick Foley; Sean Ronan, Mark Hyland, Tony Gibbons; Kevin Feely, Pascal Connell; Barry Kelly, Niall Kelly, James Eaton; Hugh Mahon, Liam McGovern.
Subs used: Paddy Dunne for Gibbons inj 23mins, Darroch Mulhall for McGovern 42mins, Cian Reynolds for Mahon 54mins.
Tom Corley; Liam Callaghan, Liam Healy, Adam Sweeney; Kevin Murnaghan, James Murray, Anthony Durney; Ryan Moore, Daryl Flynn; Ian Meehan, Eoin O’Connor, Mark McDermott; Aaron Mullins, Ronan Sweeney, Mark Murray.
Subs used: Cian O’Connor for E O’Connor HT, Aaron Masterson for Flynn 36mins, Adam Tyrrell for Mullins 42mins, Jason Phillips for M Murray 48mins, Mark Dempsey for Callaghan 50mins, Niall Hurley-Lynch for McDermott 57mins.
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