Celbridge hope Brophy can make the difference
By John Harrington
Since winning their solitary Kildare Senior Football Championship in 2008, Celbridge have been something of a nearly team.
They’ve always been competitive, but a statistic of five semi-finals lost in eight years is indicative of a side that’s been good, but not quite good enough.
They’re finally back in another County Final on Sunday though having laid their semi-final hoodoo to rest by beating Johnstownbridge.
Kildare senior star Paddy Brophy scored three points from play in that game and has excelled for the club this season since returning from a stint in the Australian Football League with the West Coast Eagles.
According to Celbridge manager Trevor O’Sullivan, having a forward of his quality back in the team has made a vital difference.
“We lost a semi-final by two points last year and didn't have a particularly good performance on the day but still had chances to win the game,” O’Sullivan told GAA.ie.
“To have a player like Paddy coming into the team certainly adds to a panel we felt was already there or thereabouts. To have a player of his calibre to add into the mix is fantastic.
“Paddy is a really good lad around the club as well. A real honest, hard-working guy who's really good with his time as well in terms of helping out with other teams and contributing and doing anything the club might ask him to do, so it's great to have him back.”
Brophy has made a difference this season, but team manager O’Sullivan deserves a lot of credit himself for developing Celebridge into a real football force over the course of a number of years.
He worked with almost all of the current senior panel at underage level too, leading them to one Kildare minor title and two U-21 titles, so he’s been a hugely influential figure in the club.
Managing a senior championship winning team is the only gap on his impressive coaching CV, but he knows he and his players are faced with a formidable obstacle on Sunday in the shape of a Moorefield team that has dominated in Kildare in recent times.
“Moorefield are one of the leading lights in Kildare football and have been hugely successful over the last decade and been in several finals and won plenty of them,” says O’Sullivan.
“It's going to be a very tough challenge for us. We'd expect something very similar to the semi-final last year (which Celbridge lost by two points), it'll probably be another very close game.
“They certainly performed better than us on the day last year so we would be hopeful that we'd improve from that and learn the lessons from that if we're to bring a big performance on Sunday.
“They're under new management this year too so that's given them a new lift. They won Division One of the League back in July so they probably are the form team in terms of winning coming into it and have had some tough games along the way.
“They convincingly beat Athy in the semi-final who were the championship favourites after Moorefield had already knocked the previous favourites Sarsfields out. We'll give Moorefield the absolute respect that they deserve.”
Celbridge can’t afford to be anything other than totally focused on the task of beating Moorefield on Sunday, but they have long-term ambitions too.
Considering the population in the town, their well-run underage set-up, and the quality they have at senior level, they don’t mind admitting they should be consistently challenging clubs like Moorefield and Sarsfields for county senior titles in the coming years.
“Yeah, absolutely,” says O’Sullivan. “We need to be competing with those two clubs, and they really have been the standard-bearers in Kildare football and we're in the chasing pack and have to work extremely hard to get up to that level.
“We still have a long, long way to go to get to where Moorefield and Sarsfields are, but we have to start somewhere and hopefully that start will be on Sunday.”