Portlaoise a happy hunting ground for Moorefield’s Eanna O’Connor

As dire as Moorefield’s situation appeared after normal time in Portlaoise on Sunday, Eanna O’Connor was one man who had more than one reason not to lose faith.

Portlaoise a happy hunting ground for Moorefield’s Eanna O’Connor

He had five of them, in fact.

In his previous handful of visits to O’Moore Park, O’Connor had been on the winning side each time. For one, there was the most recent quarter-final win over Portlaoise where he picked off 1-5. For another, eight years ago, he scored 1-2 as Coláiste na Sceilge claimed a famous Hogan Cup final win over St Mary’s, Edenderry with his late goal proving the difference.

“I’ve very good luck on this pitch,” he smiled. “I’d say I’ve played six times on this pitch and never lost a game.”

His two points in additional time to bring his total to eight for the game combined with Ronan Sweeney’s goal and Kevin Murnaghan’s winning score ensured Moorefield pulled off one of the great Leinster club SFC final comebacks.

“We’ve been in that position several times before. In the Portlaoise game, we were three points down with five minutes left. We pride ourselves on our battling qualities and we’ve been there hundreds of times before. I am just delighted for all the lads involved.”

Work opportunities brought Éanna, a primary school teacher in Portarlington, and brother Cian up from their native Kerry but it was their father Jack’s friendship with then Moorefield boss Luke Dempsey – the pair studied in college together – that saw them opt for the Newbridge club.

O’Connor refused to discuss the possibility of a Kildare call-up but agrees he’s settled where he is now. “Moorefield are very clannish, very honest, very welcoming people. I felt right at home the second I went training with them. I’ve great friends with the club and it’s great to win something with your buddies and hopefully, we can drive on from here.”

Match-winner Murnaghan admitted he had thought about going for goal before changing his mind to take the point and confirm Moorefield’s stunning comeback. He likened it to their recovery against Sarsfields in the county final three years ago.

“I think we were down by eight points at one stage and got back to draw and won the replay then. So we’re used to it. But we always have the attitude of we’ll just keep going until the end no matter how much we’re down. Something might lift us.”

As they await the victors of the Corofin-Fulham Irish All-Ireland quarter-final, the former Kildare defender revealed Moorefield had set their sights on a Leinster title at the outset. “That’s what we said at the start of the year, that we wanted a provincial title.

“The last few years we’ve been settling for county titles but Ross, from the start of the year, got it in our heads – Leinster and then kick on to an All-Ireland. We weren’t cocky or anything. We were just confident in our lads.”

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