Good start proves pivotal for Sarsfields


LEINSTER SFC QUARTER-FINAL Sarsfields 1-12 St Patrick's 2-6:Sarsfields will play Dublin champions Ballymun in the Leinster club semi-final after a comfortable victory over St Patrick’s at St Conleth’s Park.

John Crofton’s crew held more aces in attack and the three-point margin was flattering to the visitors although they displayed much more intensity in the second half than in the first.

A whirlwind start that saw the Kildare champions move into a five-point lead before St Patrick’s got off the mark with a Daniel O’Connor point in the 18th minute was the difference between the sides.

According to Crofton, it was critical to the result. “Absolutely, but you can’t manage a team to get early scores” smiled the former Kildare manager. “You’re praying and hoping and encouraging it but you can’t even mention the war in case you put too much pressure on them. They’re designed to counter-attack and against Rhode, when they got the goal, they put 12 lads behind the ball so it was such an important thing for us.”

St Patrick’s were strangely lacklustre until the 27th minute dismissal of sub Kevin Toner within seconds of his introduction, following an off-the-ball incident with Conor Tiernan. They finished the half strongly though and a blistering goal by full-back Dessie Finnegan saw them go in at half time, trailing by just two points, 0-7 to 1-2.

Sarsfields resumed control in a spiky second half, with Ray Cahill, Mattie Byrne and Pádraig Brennan getting on the mark by the 40th minute.

Conor Duffy was outstanding in a dominant defence, Gary White offered an effective screen and Mattie Byrne was hugely impressive around the middle against St Pat’s captain, Louth’s Paddy Keenan.

The young midfielder contributed two points and with Cahill adding two quick scores from play after Robbie Confrey’s 25th minute goal, the home side were in control.

Colin McCann finished well for a goal in injury time and despite four added minutes, a late Karl White point was all the Louth men could muster.

SARSFIELDS: P O’Sullivan; S Campbell, C Duffy, S Hurley; C Tiernan (0-1), N O’Callaghan, D McDonnell; M Byrne (0-2), G White (0-1, free); D McKenna, R Cahill (0-4, 0-2 frees), D Nea (0-1); P Brennan (0-1), A Smith (0-2), R Confrey (1-0). Subs: C McInerney Aspell for O’Callaghan (23 mins), C McDonnell for Nea (44 mins), C Walsh for McKenna (53 mins), M Browne for Brennan (59 mins).

ST PATRICK’S: S Connor; J O’Hare, D Finnegan (1-0), D O’Hanlon; E Breen, C Goss, O Zamboglou; P Keenan (0-1, free), P Mallon; E Carroll (0-2, frees), K White (0-1, free), A McCann; R Finnegan (0-1), D O’Connor (0-1), E O’Connor. Subs: K Toner for McCann (23 mins); E White for Breen (48 mins); M Breen for Carroll (53 mins); C McCann (1-0) for E O’Connor (57 mins).

Referee: F Kelly(Longford).

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