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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 23 October, 2018
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The comeback kings from Kildare and support from former player Christy Moore

James Murray and Moorefield are building up to Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final.

James Murray was centre-back for Moorefield's Leinster club final win.
James Murray was centre-back for Moorefield's Leinster club final win.
Image: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

NOT MANY CLUB sides put their supporters through such a wide range of emotions last year as Moorefield did.

By the 21st minute of October’s county final in Newbridge, they had been cut to 13 men after a couple of red cards and also spurned a chance to net from a penalty.

In December they were five points down in Portlaoise as the Leinster club decider drifted into injury-time.

And yet here they are in the spring of 2018 getting set for the second All-Ireland semi-final in the club’s history next Saturday.

The Kildare decider saw them chisel out a two-point win against Celbridge despite the personnel imbalance and the Leinster final saw them bag 1-3 in a remarkable conclusion against St Loman’s.

James Murray kickstarted that revival in early December when he scythed through the rearguard to place Ronan Sweeney for a priceless goal and then found himself basking in the glow of success after.

“It was unbelievable, the last eight minutes. The feeling we had after it, you couldn’t write it.

“If you go back to the first game we played in Kildare this year, we were five points down going into the last five minutes against Confey and we dragged it back to a draw game.

“So we always kind of knew we had it in us to fight to the end. There’s been a lot of games this year where we’ve dragged it right to the wire and probably given the supporters a bit of a heart-attack.”

James Murray, Tom Kinsella, Eanna O'Connor and Sean Healy celebrate after the game 17/12/2017 James Murray (left) celebrates with Moorefield team-mates after last December's Leinster decider. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The composure the players displayed on the pitch is linked to the calm demeanour on the sideline of Ross Glavin, current manager and former midfielder when Moorefield previously contested an All-Ireland semi-final in 2007 against Dr Crokes.

“He’s had a huge impact,” admits Murray.

“He’s very calm and calculated and I think that’s portrayed on the pitch by the players. There’s no sense of panic or worry with him.

“He connects with all the players and he knows the right time to push players and the right time not to push players as well.”

Ross Glavin Moorefield manager Ross Glavin. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Last autumn’s county final triumph was Moorefield’s sixth since 2006. Getting out of Kildare hasn’t been rare but conquering in Leinster has proved trickier.

They enjoyed the aftermath of claiming their second provincial title last winter and a visit from Christy Moore, who had a brief playing career in the past with Moorefield, was a novel distraction from their All-Ireland preparations.

“It was brilliant, so it was. He was out at the club. Probably not a lot of people know that Christy played on the Moorefield senior team for one year.

“It’s great to hear his stories about Moorefield back in 1962 when they won their first championship.

“It just reminded the team what they’re playing for, they’re playing for the town and those people who have gone before us.

“He sang a couple of songs related to Newbridge and the Curragh. It was a great evening.”

The scale of the task on Saturday is clear, the 2015 champions Corofin are well-versed in these kind of high-stakes occasions.

Corofin players celebrate with the cup Corofin players celebrate their All-Ireland final win over Slaughtneil in 2015. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“They’re a very experienced team,” admits Murray.

“They’re after winning Galway two years in a row, Connacht two years in a row, an All-Ireland in 2015. Everybody in Ireland would probably be expecting them to beat us on Saturday. There’s no pressure on us coming into this game. It’s probably on them.

“I think this year is big for us. We have an inner belief that we are going to win an All-Ireland this year. Everybody is just willing to work for each other. There’s great honesty in the group this year.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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