Moorefield will be looking to retain their status as Division 1 league champions today when they take on Athy in the final of this year’s competition, with Ross Glavin aiming to secure a fourth major trophy as manager in the space of 12 months.
The reigning league and county champions overcame arch rivals Sarsfields in a thrilling affair in the semi-final, earning their place in the decider against an Athy side who edged past Carbury in the other semi-final three weeks ago.
The Moores will go in as favourites, and they should be the fresher of the two teams if they have their county contingent back in situ. Eanna O’Connor was an unused substitute in Kildare’s clash with Kerry last weekend, while James Murray played just the second half in the defeat in Killarney. Mark Dempsey and Aaron Masterson both starred for the Kildare U20s as they captured the U20 All-Ireland title in Croke Park on Sunday, and it will be interesting to see if that pair feature from the start this afternoon.
As regards Athy, they had plenty of involvement in the Kildare panel over the weekend. Kevin Feely played the full game against the Kingdom, while Niall Kelly was on the field for almost 50 minutes and David Hyland played the first half before being black carded. Mark Hyland was introduced late on, so it will be interesting to see how fresh all of these players are when coming in straight off the back of a hectic championship schedule.
Moorefield would certainly appear to have the stronger panel minus their county players, backed up by the fact that they won a county title last year without having any players in Cian O’Neill’s Lilywhite squad. Saturday will be the time for the league regulars to really step up for both sides.
Athy will also be without the services of Tyrone defender Cathal McCarron on Saturday and will most likely be without the former All-Star for the rest of the year due to a knee injury. The Red Hands corner-back post a cryptic tweet a couple of weeks ago stating “When you get news that you didn’t want to hear, be grateful for the opportunity that you got and for what you have around you.” There has been no confirmation regarding his injury, but it would be a big blow for Athy’s championship hopes if he does miss the remainder of the campaign as he would have been a major asset to their backline.
The need for silverware is probably greater for Athy, but Moorefield will not let their grip on major titles slip easily.
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