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Sunday 17 December 2017

Moorefield won't trip up in Aughrim

Rathnew v Moorefield (Aughrim, Tomorrow, 2.0)

Moorefield’s Daryl Flynn (l) and Rathnew’s Peter Dignam ahead of
tomorrow’s AIB Leinster Club SFC semi-final in Aughrim. Photo: Sportsfile
Moorefield’s Daryl Flynn (l) and Rathnew’s Peter Dignam ahead of tomorrow’s AIB Leinster Club SFC semi-final in Aughrim. Photo: Sportsfile

We were beginning to use the 'Aughrim is a tough place to go' line in the form of benign cliché until the fabled old venue threw up another belter of an upset two weeks ago with Rathnew's almighty upset of St. Vincent's.

Looking back, it's easy to say that Vincent's were missing men and some of those more influential players that were there took on the appearance of pale shadows of their true footballing selves.

But any review of the day must contain very prominent reference to Rathnew's attitude.

Maybe it was having six surviving panelists from their 2001 Leinster final replay win over Na Fianna or perhaps it comes with winning six of the last nine Wicklow SFC titles and their familiarity with provincial combat.

But, for a start, they stepped up on Michael Savage's kick-out, at least delaying the St Vincent's goalkeeper's restarts and at best, having James Stafford snaffle a significant number of the ones he was forced to kick long.

Ignorance

But whatever attitude they brought to the game, it was obvious from a very early stage that Rathnew didn't harbour any sense of wariness about the collective ability of their opponents.

"Without being big-headed or disrespectful, we didn't, like," admitted Stafford, who had a gigantic bearing on the result.

"We saw the draw, took Newtown Blues seriously, knowing then we'd have the All-Ireland champions of two years ago, in Aughrim. So we did respect them, but no fear no, and knew if we were in it for the last 10 minutes.

"Maybe it's Rathnew's spirit, or pure ignorance. I don't know."

They have enough good footballers to have a crack at this Leinster Championship, too.

Stafford had a colossal game in midfield before plundering a late 1-2 from the edge of the square.

Leighton Glynn buzzed all over the Vincent's defence, winning frees and putting defenders on the back foot on a soggy day on a soft pitch.

And Damien Power performed a robust marking job on Diarmuid Connolly, away from his more comfortable environs on the edge of the square.

For all that, Moorefield are favourites here.

They didn't necessarily beat a better team in Portlaoise in their own quarter-final upset but they did oust a side who submitted a far more reflective performance than Vincent's did in Aughrim on the same day.

Éanna O'Connor was their top scorer that day, he of Kerry heritage but with the strong possibility of a career with Kildare in front of him, but they were organised throughout and - like Rathnew - played with the verve of a side who expected to win.

So it all comes down to Aughrim.

Can it sway it for Rathnew again?

They were 7/1 to beat Vincent's before throw-in two weeks ago, so they're unlikely to be perturbed by anyone's expectations but Moorefield bring some form with them and should go through.

ODDS: Rathnew 7/4, Draw 13/2, Moorefield 8/13

VERDICT: Rathnew

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