AIB Leinster Club Senior Football Championship Final
MOOREFIELD (KILDARE) 1-14 ST LOMAN’S MULLINGAR (WESTMEATH) 2-10
By Paul Keane at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise
Experienced wing-back Kevin Murnaghan capped an incredible comeback with the 67th minute winning point as Moorefield claimed the AIB Leinster club SFC title in quite remarkable fashion.
The favourites trailed by six points with just a minute of normal time remaining in Portlaoise and looked certain for defeat.
But in what will go down as one of the great club comebacks, Ross Glavin’s men reeled off 1-4 without reply to win a one-point game and match their 2006 success.
Veteran forward Ronan Sweeney, a selector with Kildare, scored the 61st minute goal for the Newbridge outfit after a turnover in the Loman’s defence that gave them hope.
And two points from free-taker and Kerry man Eanna O’Connor levelled up the game, laying the platform for Murnaghan’s winner.
It was the last kick of a memorable game as a scuffed free was punched into Murnaghan’s path, leaving him the routine task of tapping over the winner from close range.
Loman’s supporters could scarcely believe their eyes at that stage with county man Paul Sharry sent off in the 62nd minute and goalscorer Ken Casey black carded minutes earlier.
Moorefield will return to action on February 17 for the All-Ireland club semi-finals and will take on Corofin of Galway or London’s Fulham Irish.
Loman’s talisman John Heslin wore number 14 but started at midfield and remained there as ex-Offaly forward Casey and Shane Dempsey foraged for scores in the full-forward line.
It robbed Loman’s of their most potent forward though it also indicated the battle they were anticipating around the middle third.
Heslin booted Loman’s first score from distance in the ninth minute and the sides remained deadlocked at 0-3 apiece after 20 minutes.
But Moorefield took over around midfield and in their half-forward line for the remainder of the half to open up a three-point interval lead.
The Kildare men were camped in the Loman’s half for one particular period, winning a succession of Loman’s kick-outs and scoring four points without reply between the 20th and 23rd minutes.
That moved Moorefield 0-6 to 0-3 ahead and with Kelvin Reilly and James Murray trading a point, the favourites led by 0-7 to 0-4 at half-time.
To Loman’s credit, they looked dangerous whenever they attacked with Casey and Dempsey troubling the Moorefield defence.
And they came from further behind in both of their previous Leinster championship wins over Simonstown Gaels and Mullinalaghta.
Boss Luke Dempsey surely reminded them of that at the break because they returned a rejuvenated force, firing a remarkable 1-3 without reply.
In a low scoring game, it amounted to a hugely significant burst that put Loman’s 1-7 to 0-7 clear.
Casey hit their first point after the restart, igniting the comeback and blasted a well taken 37th minute goal after Loman’s had drawn level.
Kelvin Reilly played the long ball in that caught out a couple of Moorefield defenders and squirted through to an unmarked Casey who blasted in off the ‘keeper.
Dempsey’s first point of the game in the 44th minute briefly put Loman’s four points ahead at 1-9 to 0-8.
They were four up again with eight minutes remaining and stretched the lead to six after Ronan O’Toole’s 54th minute goal, 2-10 to 0-10.
But Moorefield simply refused to accept defeat and fired that breathtaking 1-4 tally to pull off a famous win.
Scorers for Moorefield: Eanna O’Connor 0-8 (5f), Ronan Sweeney 1-1, James Murray 0-2, Eddie Heavey 0-1, David Whyte 0-1, Kevin Murnaghan 0-1.
Scorers for St Loman’s Mullingar: Ken Casey 1-2, Ronan O’Toole 1-2, John Heslin 0-2 (1f), Paul Sharry 0-2, Shane Dempsey 0-1, Kelvin Reilly 0-1.
MOOREFIELD: Tom Kinsella; Mark Dempsey, Liam Healy, Liam Callaghan; Kevin Murnaghan, James Murray, Sean Healy; Daryl Flynn, Aaron Masterson; David Whyte, Eddie Heavey, Ian Meehan; Eanna O’Connor, Niall Hurley Lynch, Ronan Sweeney. Subs: Aaron Mullins for Meehan (40), Adam Sweeney for Masterson (52), Sean Dempsey for Callaghan (55).
ST LOMAN’S MULLINGAR: Jason Daly; Gary Glennon, Gerry Grehan, Jason O’Toole; Neil O’Toole, Paddy Dowdall, David Whelan; Paul Sharry, John Heslin; David Windsor, Ronan O’Toole, Kelvin Reilly; Ken Casey, Sean Flanagan, Shane Dempsey. Subs: Kieran Lynam for Flanagan (29), Conrad Reilly for N O’Toole (h/t), Ciaran Kilmurray for Whelan (55), Billy O’Loughlin for Casey (58, black card), Shane Flynn for Windsor (61).
Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).