Having lost back-to-back finals in 2013 and 2014 to arch rivals Moorefield, the Sash were determined not to lose again although it looked like they were heading for a third straight defeat when Athy moved two points clear in the 60th minute.
“Everyone probably thought that we were gone,” admitted second half substitute Alan Smith. “But there’s terrific character in this team.”
Athy had the best of a hectic first half and for the opening 15 minutes they looked like running away with the game. Playing at a ferocious pace, Athy had 1-4 on the board in the first quarter and
led 1-6 to 0-7 at the interval.
Sarsfields were reduced to 14 men in the 40th minute, however they dug deep in injury time and man-of-the-match Ray Cahill kicked two in a row to square the match. Just when it seemed like we were heading for a replay, Smith popped up with a point and Cahill completed the victory with the last score.
“Pure elation,” was how Sarsfelds’ manager John Crofton described the feeling at the final whistle. “I wouldn’t try to kid anybody, at three points down and a man down, we would have settled for getting out somehow with a draw. We knew there was a lot of fight in the dog and they showed it there,” said Crofton.
R Cahill 0-9 (4fs); A Smith 0-2; S Campbell, B McCormack, C Tiernan, G White (45), M Byrne, C Kavanagh 0-1 each.
J Eaton 1-2 (1-0pen); L McGovern 0-3 (2fs); N Kelly 0-2; D Mulhall, R Bell, T Gibbons (f), K Feely, H Mahon 0-1 each.
A O’Brien; S Lawlor, S Campbell, A Scully; C Tiernan, G White, D McDonnell; M Byrne, C Kavanagh; B McCormack, R Cahill, R Fitzgibbon; D Nea, S Dempsey, C McInerney-Aspell.
C Hartley for Dempsey, 39; A Smith for McCormack, 48; C Scanlon for Nea, 53; B Coffey for Fitzgibbon, 57; C Duffy for McInerney-Aspell, 57.
S Davis; T Foley, M Hyland, K Mulhall; R Bell, M Foley, D Holligan; D McGovern, D Hyland; T Gibbons, K Feely, H Mahon; N Kelly, P Dunne, J Eaton.
L McGovern for Gibbons, 40; D Mulhall for Dunne, 47; P Connell for McGovern, 53; D Holligan for Bell, 53; B Kelly for Delahunt, 57; C Ronan for Foley, 60.
L Herbert (Sallins).