Moorefield turning minor success into major gains

The optimist in “Sos” Dowling doesn’t need any invitation to draw parallels between the Leinster club title he led Moorefield to in 2006 and what he hopes will be their second crown tomorrow afternoon.

Moorefield turning minor success into major gains

But there are some facts that can’t be denied.  For one, how a Kildare minor championship success fuelled the seniors then and now.

“Back in 2006, we had won the minor three years beforehand,” recalls Dowling. “The likes of Daryl (Flynn) and Ross (Glavin) and Jason Philips and Liam Murphy and Ian Lonergan – six or seven lads in total – came onto my squad.

“The team this year has taken in some of the minors that won the championship two years ago that I was over. Aaron Masterson, Seán Healy, Mark Dempsey, Ian Meehan... and there are another four or five young lads on the panel. The comparison is there, you would say it’s kinda the same with the mix of fellow elder lemons like Roli (Ronan Sweeney).”

Then there’s the fact Moorefield have no interruptions because of inter-county commitments – as was the case 11 years ago with the exception of Ronan Sweeney.

“I’d only Roli on the Kildare panel in 2006. I had only one lad and then the following year, four or five were invited back on and it was so hard to pick them up again. It is a big factor unless you have an exceptional, hot team with five or six inter-county players. It helps big time to prolong the season and make it better.”

Eanna O’Connor, son of Kerry U20 manager Jack who has been working with Moorefield, has been recommended by current manager Ross Glavin for a Kildare call-up.

Dowling has been impressed by what Eanna and brother Cian have contributed to the club since transferring from St Michael’s Foilmore in 2014.

“The one thing about them is when they commit they really commit. They’re the first on the field and last off it and when they’re meant to be resting they’re still up in the field kicking balls. Jack has it engrained into them to keep kicking.

"They were a great catch. You might have some lads who would give you a year and things would fizzle out but these lads are real clubmen.”

Sweeney, now 37, might be expected to take station at the edge of the square on Sunday to cause havoc and break down ball to the likes of Eanna O’Connor. Dowling can only applaud his longetivity.

“Ross could nearly play as could Kevin O’Neill his selector. I’d be nearly onto them telling them as much. Frank Hanniffy as well - he played a bit with the reserves this year as well but injuries crept up with those men.

“Roli just loves the game. I’ve been lucky to have him at minor, U21, senior and I played with him in the senior championship. I know him so well.

"I was involved with the second team this year and he was allowed to play on that to get game-time. He has the kids, Jackie was expecting another child and he has his own business. He just has this energy. He’s a real credit to himself and Moorefield.”

October’s win over Celbridge marked Moorefield’s eight Kildare SFC title since 2000, their fifth since that 2006 Leinster victory against Rhode. In the 10 provincial championships since then eight have been claimed by Dublin sides.

After Rathnew’s shock win over St Vincent’s, the likes of proven winners such as Moorefield would have fancied their chances of claiming provincial honours but then Dowling appreciates St Loman’s will have felt exactly the same way.

And yet there is a sense in Newbridge that Moorefield’s attendance at the school of hard knocks might give them an edge.

This might be St Loman’s first Leinster final at the fourth attempt in five seasons but Moorefield have had truncated provincial campaigns in four years between 2007 and ’14 – the semi-final defeat to Tyrrellspass (1-7 to 0-7), the preliminary round loss to Portlaoise in ’10 (2-11 to 0-14), Portlaoise again but at semi-final stage in ’13 (1-9 to 0-8) and that semi-final reverse to Rhode in ’14 (1-15 to 2-4).

Those last two losses were suffered when current St Loman’s manager Luke Dempsey was in charge of the club. Dowling acknowledge he has inside information on the players he is now aiming to down but the former Kildare star’s attention is drawn to what St Loman’s are putting on the field.

“(Paul) Sharry isn’t the biggest of midfielders but he’s so mobile and when he gets on the ball he’s quick. (John) Heslin is one of the best forwards in the business so it’ll boil down to our midfield and can Eanna be as sharp as Heslin on the frees.

"Back in 2006, we got three goals and that killed Rhode. No matter how good they were, and they were odds-on favourites at the time, we got goals at the right time and this year we seem to be getting goals as well. It’ll go to the wire and hopefully it’ll be us smiling at the end of it.”

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