Ballymun ease past wasteful Sarsfields


Ballymun 1-8 Sarsfields 0-5You know the day has been a foul one when the best even the winning manager can say about it is: “The great thing was that there was no wind.” Paul Curran had just watched his Ballymun side wade through a sodden afternoon in Newbridge and though they had enough about them in the end to keep their noses above the waterline, you’d be hard-pushed to say that anyone enjoyed it. The best you could say for the conditions were that they were character-forming.

Ballymun came through it with six points to spare in the end and if all agreed that the margin was a touch excessive, nobody quibbled with the verdict. Sarsfields had all the ball they needed to make a game of it but their shooting was abysmal, even allowing for the rain and the muck and the slog.

They ended with 15 wides, as well as a handful of kicks that dropped into the arms of Ballymun goalkeeper Seán Currie. On a day where they never wanted for possession or territory, it was a fatal weakness. “It’s hard to believe that we kicked that many wides,” said Sarsfields manager John Crofton. “We only scored five points in all and we chose the wrong day for that to happen. A lot of them weren’t necessarily under tremendous pressure when they were shooting.

“We’ve been running up good scores with limited possession. Today we got an awful lot of possession and failed in the one important task.”

Sarsfields had six wides on the board before they had a point and their obvious flaw was that the wrong players were taking the shots. Despite the presence of proven score-getters Alan Smith and Pádraig Brennan in the full-forward line, the shots rained in from all angles and all boots but theirs. Of their eight first-half wides, as many came from midfielders as from inside forwards.

Meanwhile, Ballymun were being far more economical down the other end. James McCarthy and Karl Connolly galloped through for simple scores and when Dean Rock hooked a classy point over his shoulder on 20 minutes, the Dubliners were 0-3 to 0-1 ahead. Kevin Leahy tacked on another that was a demonstration of the difference between the sides – a patient build-up, a man in space, no shot until the shot was on. After Rock and Smith swapped points, it left it 0-5 to 0-2 at half-time.

Sarsfields’ one piece of comfort was the fact this was never going to be the kind of day where one side ran up a big score. Led by Gary White and Matty Byrne in midfield, they reeled Ballymun back in at the start of the second period. But although they eked out a couple of points from frees, their shooting in general play didn’t improve. And when Ballymun’s Ted Furnam wriggled through for a goal on 47 minutes after a high ball had bobbled his way, that was it.

“Sarsfields came out fast in the second half,” said Curran. “They ran at us and caused us a few problems, got a couple of scores. We didn’t look like scoring for 10 or 15 minutes of the second half. So we needed a score or two and the goal was a massive lift. I thought we finished the stronger. We won by six which I suppose is a little bit flattering but we’ll take it.

“Fifteen wides sounds like an awful lot but I think a lot of them were poor wides. I don’t think they ever really threatened us . . . It was a great defensive performance and a great team performance.”

They now face Portlaoise in a fortnight.

BALLYMUN: S Currie; Enda Dolan, P McMahon, Eoin Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly (0-1), J Burke; Davy Byrne (0-1), J McCarthy (0-1); E O’Reilly, K Leahy (0-1), J Whelan; T Furman (1-0), D Rock (0-4, two frees, one 45), S Forde. Subs: Derek Byrne for Forde (half-time); A O’Brien for Derek Byrne (48 mins), S George for O’Reilly (51 mins), J Small for Leahy (57 mins), F Andrews for Furman (61 mins). Yellow cards: Leahy, O’Reilly, McMahon SARSFIELDS: P O’Sullivan; S Hurley, S Campbell, C Duffy; C Tiernan, N O’Callaghan, D McDonnell; M Byrne, G White; D McKenna, R Cahill (0-2, frees), C McDonnell; P Brennan (0-1, free), R Confrey, A Smith (0-2). Subs: C Walsh for Smith (40 mins), D Nea for Brennan (51 mins.) Yellow cards: Tiernan, M Byrne. Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).

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