McKenna turns the tide for Sarsfields

Carbury 0-11 Sarsfields 2-11
This game was in the balance for a long period but a 46th-minute goal from the tireless Declan McKenna turned the tide in Sarsfields’ favour.

McKenna had the ball in the net again three minutes from time but Niall Colgan had already blown for a penalty. Conor Tiernan ignored the advice of Pádraig Brennan and Gary White to take a point, planting a low shot beyond Noel Kenna to confirm the Sash’s first county title since 2005.

It could have been very different indeed as Carbury were dominant for most of the second and third quarters. They were 0-5 to 0-1 down after 13 minutes but kept Sarsfields scoreless for the remainder of the half and led at the interval by two points.

They still held that advantage when McKenna struck but should have had much more in hand as they troubled Sarsfields in a significant way when injecting pace into their attacks.

In the end, they kicked a total of 11 wides, whereas the Newbridge men only had three. It will be a bitter pill to swallow for Carbury, who also lost last year’s final.

Alan Smith carried on his outstanding form in the county colours with a clinical display, landing a 100% return with four points from play. He admitted to having been a little concerned at times but hailed his side’s character in digging out the result.

“We made hard work of that,” conceded Smith. “In the league final as well, with 10 minutes to go, the game was probably beyond us but there’s great character in this team. We started off great, let Carbury back into it but the goal turned it for us. We kicked on with 1-3 on the trot and we’re happy with that.

“I don’t know what was going on. The first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half we weren’t getting going at all. When the goal went in, that was the lift we needed. We started winning midfield again, and once we started winning midfield again we had the forwards to do the damage.”

Sarsfields flew out of the traps, with Brennan and Smith adding a brace apiece. Smith’s scores were magnificent — both from tight angles on the right — but Carbury, having started very nervously, got themselves back into proceedings.

Willie Groome and Kenny McNamara had goal opportunities at the end of scintillating moves but the former had his shot blocked, while McNamara blasted inches wide of the left upright.

Instead of deflating Stephen Darby’s men though, the chances seemed to infuse them with belief. Eoghan O’Flaherty converted four frees, and with Andrew Dermody and the excellent Terry Rossiter also finding the target, they led by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time.

The second half was very stop-start, with Gary White (free) and Rossiter exchanging scores before substitute Caoimghín McDonnell announced his introduction in some style.

The substitute showed searing pace to race past the otherwise magnificent Daryl O’Brien. He off-loaded to Robbie Confrey, who sent a pass across the face of goal for McKenna to palm to the net.

White pointed from another free before Smith stretched the margin to four with two very well-taken scores.

David Cash landed a wonderful point from 40m for Carbury but they were very much on the back foot.

McKenna stretched the margin to four once more before being fouled in the square by Darren Moore. Tiernan did the needful and the celebrations were under way.

Scorers for Sarsfields: A Smith 0-4; D McKenna 1-1; G White (2fs, 1 45), P Brennan (2fs) 0-3 each; C Tiernan 1-0 pen.

Carbury: E O’Flaherty 0-5(fs); T Rossiter 0-3; W Groome(f), A Dermody, D Cash 0-1 each

SARSFIELDS: P O’Sullivan; S Hurley, S Campbell, C Duffy; C Tiernan, N O’Callaghan, D McDonnell; M Byrne, G White; D McKenna, R Cahill, M Browne; P Brennan, R Confrey, A Smith.

Subs: D Nea for Browne (ht); C Walsh for Cahill (36); C McDonnell for Byrne (43); C McInerney Aspell for D McDonnell (57); E Freaney for Brennan (59)

CARBURY: N Kenna; G Mangan, L Holt, SMcKeon; B O’Flaherty, D O’Brien, D Moore; D Cash, S Costello; W Groome, T Rossiter, M O’Flaherty; K McNamara, E O’Flaherty, A Dermody. Subs: J Crowe for McKeon (56); S Kelly for Groome (57)

Referee: N Colgan (Monasterevan).

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