Team captain Aaron Masterson reflected on a job well done for the Kildare U20s on Friday evening as they eased past Dublin with eight points to spare in a thoroughly impressive display in the Leinster final.
“It’s hard to believe – I’m lost for words,” Masterson told KildareNow afterwards. “The boys put in an incredible performance and we’re just delighted to get over the line.”
Dublin led by 0-5 to 0-3 after 24 minutes following a rather fractured start to the game, but once Aaron O’Neill smartly stopped a goalbound effort from Tom Keane, Kildare never looked back.
“I think it was a bit of nerves starting off but you’ll get that in finals, but after about 20 minutes we got into it and put the shoulder to the wheel and kicked on,” Masterson said of Kildare’s somewhat slow start.
Part of the reason that Kildare surged on before half-time was the fact that Masterson and his midfield partner, David Marnell, got on top in the middle third.
“David had a great performance today,” the Moorefield man said of his colleague.
“The first 10 minutes we were a little shaky but then we got to terms with them around the middle and that set us up for a good win in the end.”
It’s a second Leinster title at intercounty level for Masterson who was in midfield when Kildare won the provincial title at minor level in 2016. 11 of the side that played in the Leinster final in 2016 played on Friday evening for the U20s, while there was a good influx of new players into the setup too.
“I think we came in under the radar a little this year because there wasn’t that much talk about the U20s, but after the first two or three games we hit into our stride and found our groove, and this is the least we deserve,” continued Masterson.
“That’s football for you. Lads just come in, lads come and go. Look at Jack Bambrick there; he’s never played on a Kildare team before and he has come in there and done a massive job for us today.”
Jimmy Hyland was man of the match on Friday evening, kicking eight points in a brilliant display of shooting as he ran the Dublin backline ragged and bagged scores at important stages.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Hyland afterwards.
“Any time you win a Leinster final it’s a great day so I’m just over the moon really. There’s great moral in the team.
Hyland, who was part of the 2015 and 2016 Leinster minor winning teams, and the bond the players have built between each other has been a hallmark of their success.
“I get on very well with the lads – there’s great comradery,” smiled the Ballyteague man.
“Me and Macky[Brian McLoughlin] have a good understanding now, and in fairness to Podge[Nash] and Paddy[Woodgate], they always put in good balls in front of us so we know we just have to be in front and that’s the way it works.
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