Kildare SFC final: Athy 2-11, Carbury 2-7
THEY say football is a young man's game nowadays and yesterday in Newbridge, Athy's brash band of fledging footballers ended a Kildare county title drought older than most of those who bridged the gap.
1987 was the last time the West Kildare town got their hands on the county title and as captain Mick Foley held it aloft, he surveyed a team of youngsters capable of making a habit of it.
Boasting five of the 2009 Kildare minor team and this year's captain, they exploded out of the traps, plundering two hauntingly similar first-half goals to excavate a chasm that Carbury just couldn't fill.
It was, however, one of the Kildare junior panel, who put his stamp all over the contest. Full-forward James Eaton played with the Lilywhites’ second-tier side this year and no doubt the watching Kieran McGeeney has more glamourous plans for the player after providing 1-4 of Athy's tally.
Somewhat strangely, Athy only had four scorers in the match but between Eaton and Cian Reynolds (0-6 (3f)), they had enough guns firing to knock Carbury back on their heels and - vitally - carve a couple of late, steadying scores.
“It's a fantastic day for the club and for the town,” gushed manager, Mark Brophy. “It's a culmination of years of great dedication by a lot of people at under-age level and it's come to fruition today.”
With Athy leading 2-5 to 1-4 at half-time, the joke doing the rounds in St Conleth's Park was that it was men against boys stuff …. and the boys were battering the men.It took less than a minute for Eaton to strike for goal after a long delivery was misjudged by both the Carbury 'keeper, Noel Kenna and his full-back, Colm Kearney.
Eaton pounced to flick the ball over Kenna into the net and unfortunately for the Carbury custodian, it happened all over again in the 17th minute when Darroch Mulhall executed the same trick to drive Athy well clear.
It took a late first-half penalty from David Cash to make sure the second half had something of a contest about it but even the four-point margin at the break failed to encapsulate Athy's dominance.
“The two goals gave us a great platform,” Brophy noted. “We didn't have to go chasing the game and it meant we could hit on the counter-attack after that.”
Indeed Athy claimed the first three points of the second-half to surge further clear but a goal from Daryl O'Brien and a tour de force from Carbury’s Terry Rossiter dragged his team back to within two points.
Athy had all the answers, though and with Foley dominant in defence and Kevin Feely generating all their energy in midfield, the sealing scores were inevitable and it was Reynolds who sealed the long-awaited win.
“Carbury are a fabulous team and had come back from the dead in every game this year. They nearly pulled it out of the fire,” Brophy admitted. “Luckily enough, we held out there in the end.”