Moorefield players celebrate their victory. INPHO
Kildare Kings

5 talking points after Moorefield's stunning revival secures famous Leinster final win

The Kildare club prevailed by a point in a dramatic game in Portlaoise.

1. Moorefield’s magnificent finish

The St Loman’s camp and the neutrals in O’Moore Park were all set to anoint the Mullingar club as Leinster champions as this final drifted into injury-time. But Moorefield refused to adhere to that script and kept pushing to the last.

Their stubbornness and refusal to quit was rewarded as they claimed a remarkable victory. James Murray’s brilliant interception and driving run set up their key goal, Eanna O’Connor showed the composure to kick points, Kevin Murnaghan was alert for the winning score and Ronan Sweeney was a constant inspiration. Given the nature of their comeback, no wonder they celebrated so wildly.

2. St Loman’s composure deserts them at a crucial stage

After producing some sparkling football in the second half, St Loman’s were on the cusp of a major victory here. But when they needed to hold their nerve and display the necessary game management skills, they lost composure and could not stem the waves of Moorefield attacks.

St Loman’s had been hugely impressive at the back in only conceding three second-half points up until the 58th minute before then leaking 1-4 in the closing stages. They lost the influential Paul Sharry to a second yellow card and the impressive Ken Casey to a black card.

Panic seemed to set in amongst their side. Possession was coughed up softly on a few of occasions with Moorefield capitalising to grab scores and the late Eanna O’Connor free that resulted in Murnaghan’s winning point was brought forward 13 metres after the ball was needlessly kicked away. St Loman’s did so much right in this game but everything went wrong for them in the finale.

3. Sweeney remains the heartbeat of the Moorefield cause

37-year-old Ronan Sweeney is a hugely experienced campaigner and he drew on all his nous for Moorefield today. The former Lilywhite player and current coach supplied two key contributions late on when firing home a 61st minute goal and keeping possession alive brilliantly for that Murnaghan point.

But throughout the match he had been at the heart of Moorefield’s most effective patches. He punched over a first-half point after a surging run, drew a foul for a free that O’Connor converted and also offloaded for another point from play by the Kerry native. When Moorefield needed leadership in this match, Sweeney stood tall.

4. A shattering experience for St Loman’s

Only once has a Westmeath club featured on the winning podium on Leinster senior club football final day. Garrycastle’s success in 2011 remains the solitary Westmeath triumph but St Loman’s missed a glorious chance to claim a second crown for the county today.

Reaching their first Leinster decider and completing a three-in-a-row of title wins in Westmeath meant 2017 had already seen significant accomplishments for the Mullingar club. But they should have capped off the year in style in December after putting themselves in the driving seat with a wonderful second-half showing.

Instead this match proved a shattering experience as they were overhauled late on and their players were a disconsolate and shocked bunch at the final whistle.

5. An All-Ireland opportunity beckons for Moorefield

For the second time in their history, Moorefield will move forward to fly the Leinster flag in the All-Ireland senior series. They were taken down after a replay in 2007 by Kerry’s Dr Crokes but 11 years on they will get a chance next spring to advance to a first St Patrick’s Day showdown.

Galway’s Corofin or London’s Fulham Irish – who will meet in a re-fixture in January after last Sunday’s postponement in Ruislip – will be Moorefield’s opponents next February. Sweeney and Daryl Flynn are two of the figures still knocking around from the 2007 vintage. No doubt they will be impressing upon their younger colleagues to refocus for the bigger challenges ahead after these Leinster celebrations have died down.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Comeback kings! 1-3 in injury-time clinches dramatic Leinster title win for Moorefield

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