As he stood on the pitch afterwards, Ronan Sweeney recalled the day he and a few other survivors on the Moorefield panel had come here in 1997 to win a rare county minor title.
The fact that he had to keep bending back to stretch out his chronically hurt back as he spoke told a little of the distance he has travelled in the meantime. The fact that he was about to mount the steps to collect his sixth Kildare senior title filled in a good whack of the rest.
Moorefield outstayed their Newbridge rivals here but only after they had righted a thoroughly unsteady first-half performance. Having trailed by 0-10 to 0-7 at the break – and having been lucky enough to get away with being just three points down in all honesty – they tore Sarsfields to pieces and outscored them 2-7 to 0-3 in the second half.
“Yeah, we were worried at half-time,” said Sweeney. “We weren’t playing well. We couldn’t handle their pace and we couldn’t get any moves together either. I knew we had a lot more in us. We all did.
“This is unbelievable. We’re coming towards the end of our career a few of us and there’s been some great days and some really bad ones too. But there’s no doubt this is the greatest day of them all.”
For long spells in that first half, it looked anything but. After 17 minutes, Sarsfields were 0-6 to 0-3 ahead and had run up six wides to Moorefield's two. Their pace from deep was causing problems, with points from midfielder Declan McKenna and wing-back Conor Tiernan both the result of direct running to which Moorefield had no answer.
Only for a couple of Sweeney frees and two fine points from corner forward Niall Hurley Lynch, Moorefield could have lost contact. But while it was clear that Sarsfields were finding it easier to locate their mojo, they never got away from their town rivals. At no stage did they threaten a goal and with Sweeney calmly converting frees to punish their frequent indiscipline, the margin was never more than three points.
Set the tone
Indeed it was Moorefield's final score of the first half that set the tone for the remainder of the game, their bottle rocket wing-forward Adam Tyrrell landing a fantastic point from distance. It was a prelude to a second half where Tyrrell was close to unplayable, his habit of collecting, turning and shooting on sight yielding a further three points from play.
Moorefield were rampant throughout the second half. After another knifed Tyrrell point put them just 0-9 to 0-10 behind on 33 minutes, Sweeney had a chance to push them into the lead only for Patrick O’Connor to palm his penalty to safety.
Soon after, Sarsfields corner-back Conor Duffy had to pull off a brilliant block on Ciarán Kelly to snuff out another goal chance.
The county champions were creaking now. Sweeney reeled them in with a towering point on 42 minutes, just as Sarsfields were readying Dermot Earley to come in and fight fires. Soon after, Tyrrell's third point of the day put Moorefield ahead and they very nearly bounded clear on 45 minutes, only for Hurley Lynch's shot to crash back off the crossbar.
To their credit, Sarsfields bent but wouldn't break. Earley started having an effect around the middle of the field and though Tyrell's fourth point pushed Moorefield three ahead with 10 minutes left, a couple of Ray Cahill efforts reduced the margin to one just five minutes from the end.
Enter Tyrrell. A break-out from the Moorefield defence left them with a three-on-two and his clever run and pass eventually led to Paddy Murray banging home the killshot. When Tyrrell provided the return pass for an outrageous length-of-the-field one-two with full-back Ger Naughton in injury time, the game was all but dead. Naughton finished low into the corner anyway and Moorefield's sixth title on 13 years was sealed.
"A better group of lads I've never worked with," said Moorefield manager Luke Dempsey. "I'm delighted. For me myself, the last two years in Carlow were very tough ... I got my own rewards from those Moorefield lads."