Leinster club SFC final: Sweeney inspires remarkable Moorefield comeback

December 17, 2017

St Loman's David Windsor and Ronan Sweeney of Moorefield.
©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

Moorefield (Kildare) 1-14

St. Loman's (Westmeath) 2-10

Ronan 'Rolly' Sweeney rolled back the years with a colossal performance as Moorefield finished with a flourish to pull off a dramatic Leinster club SFC final victory at O'Moore Park.

St. Loman's appeared home and hosed when leading by 2-10 to 0-10 entering stoppage-time, but inspired by a late Sweeney goal, Moorefield came back from the dead to snatch an unlikely win and leave their Westmeath opponents shell-shocked. The five minutes of injury-time allotted by referee Barry Tiernan was up when wing back Kevin Murnaghan fired over the winning point from close range after the redoubtable Sweeney had prevented Eanna O'Connor's free from the 45-metre line from going wide by punching the ball back across the face of goal.

Loman's misery was compounded by late red and black cards for Paul Sharry and goal-scorer Ken Casey respectively as Moorefield celebrated their second provincial success in 11 years and set up an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with either Corofin or Fulham Irish next February.

It looked to be all over bar the shouting when the excellent Ronan O'Toole finished off a superbly-worked goal in the 54th minute to put Loman's within touching distance of their first Leinster title. But after O'Connor had reduced the gap to five points from a 59th minute free, a mistake by Paddy Dowdall allowed James Murray to storm through the middle and tee up Sweeney for a 61st minute goal.

All of a sudden, Loman's were creaking as they lost play-maker Sharry to a second yellow card before a quick brace of O'Connor points (the first from a free) brought Moorefield level by the 63rd minute.

A relentless Moorefield side were then awarded a free about 60 metres out, which was brought forward after St. Loman's sub Billy O'Loughlin had inexplicably thrown the ball away. And just when it seemed O'Connor's free was going wide, Sweeney kept the ball alive and former county star Murnaghan did the rest to send the Moorefield fans into raptures. 

St. Loman's manager Luke Dempsey will wonder how his side contrived to lose this game after being in such a strong position with normal time almost up. Their talisman John Heslin was marked closely by David Whyte, but Sharry, Casey, Ronan O'Toole and Shane Dempsey all caused problems for the Moorefield defence.

The losers dominated the opening quarter, but only led by 0-3 to 0-2 after Eanna O'Connor - whose father and former Kerry manager Jack was visible on the sideline in the second half - had opened the scoring. O'Connor levelled from a free before Sweeney fisted the winners in front and Whyte and O'Connor also had points from play.

Kelvin Reilly fisted over at the other end to leave Loman's trailing by 0-4 to 0-7 at the break.

The Mullingar men had come from behind to beat Mullinalaghta and Simonstown in the previous rounds, and it looked like they would repeat the trick when Casey netted in the 36th minute to put them three clear after the Moorefield defence had failed to clear Kelvin Reilly's long ball.

Centre back James Murray replied for Moorefield, only for points from O'Toole and Dempsey to extend Loman's lead. A second goal from O'Toole with six minutes remaining looked to have settled it, but Moorefield reeled off an unanswered 1-4 in the closing minutes to claim a remarkable win.

Moorefield - T Kinsella; L Callaghan, L Healy, S Healy; K Murnaghan (0-1), J Murray (0-2), M Dempsey; D Flynn, A Masterson; I Meehan, E Heavey (0-1), D Whyte (0-1); E O'Connor (0-8, 4f), R Sweeney (1-1), N Hurley Lynch. Subs: A Mullins for I Meehan, A Sweeney for A Masterson, S Dempsey for M Dempsey.

St. Loman's - J Daly; N O'Toole, J O'Toole, G Grehan; G Glennon, P Dowdall, D Whelan; P Sharry (0-2), J Heslin (0-2, 1f); K Reilly (0-1), R O'Toole (1-2), D Windsor; K Casey (1-2), S Flanagan, S Dempsey (0-1). Subs: K Lynam for S Flanagan, C Reilly for N O'Toole, C Kilmurray for D Whelan, B O'Loughlin for K Casey (BC), S Flynn for D Windsor.

Referee - B Tiernan.

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