Moorefield players 'willing to die for one another'
By John Harrington
Grace under pressure has been a defining characteristic of the Moorefield football team throughout their run to Saturday’s AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final.
From the very first match of the Kildare championship when they clawed a draw with Confey having trailed by five points with five minutes to play, they’ve shown remarkable calm in clutch situations.
In the County Final against Celbridge they lost both team-captain Daryl Flynn and wing-forward David Whyte to red cards by the 21st minute, but they never despaired and the 13-men held on for a famous win.
Best of all though was the way they won the Leinster Final. They trailed St. Loman’s, Mullingar by six points with six minutes remaining, but somehow scored 1-4 in those closing minutes to complete a remarkable smash and grab raid.
So where does this serenity and character in the face of adversity come from?
Clearly these Moorefield players are a gutsy bunch, but according to team centre-back James Murray, their manager Ross Glavin can take a lot of credit for fostering a level of self-belief that ensures they never panic no matter what the circumstances.
“At the start of the year, Ross sat down with us and said it was no longer a case that we just wanted to be the best team in Newbridge or the best team in Kildare, it was a Leinster and All-Ireland that we were focusing on this year,” Murray told GAA.ie.
“Slowly but surely we've believed that and it's come to fruition there now.
“He connects with all the players and he knows the right time to push players and the right time not to push players as well.
“He's had a huge impact. He's very calm and calculated and I think that's portrayed on the pitch by the players. There's no sense of panic or worry with him.
"From the three lads (Glavin and his selectors Kevin O’Neill and Frank Hanniffy), none of them panic at training. Everything is calculated and everything is planned to perfection so we've good trust in the management.
“We'd do anything for the three of them and they're do anything for us. There's good spirit in the group.”
It can only help that team spirit when the club arranges evenings like they did last month when Christy Moore was brought to the club-house to sing a few songs for the players and management team.
“It was brilliant, so it was,” said Murray. “He was out at the club. Probably not a lot of people know that Christy played on the Moorefield senior team for one year.
“It's great to hear his stories about Moorefield back in 1962 when they won their first championship. It just reminded the team what they're playing for, they're playing for the town and those people who have gone before us.
“He sang a couple of songs related to Newbridge and the Curragh. It was a great evening."
Moorefield’s team spirit and character will be required in spades on Saturday when they play Corofin in the All-Ireland semi-final.
All-Ireland champions as recently as 2015, the Galway side are a classy outfit and Murray is well aware of the scale of the challenge that’s facing him and his team-mates.
“They have a lot of household names compared to us where we probably only have Ronan Sweeney and Eanna O'Connor,” he said.
“They're a very physical team and they like to play football like us - they like to keep their head up. It has the makings of a good game.
“They're a very experienced team. They're after winning Galway two years in a row, Connacht two years in a row, an All-Ireland in 2015.
“Everybody in Ireland would probably be expecting them to beat us on Saturday. There's no pressure on us coming into this game. It's probably on them.”
They might be underdogs on Saturday, but everyone associated with this Moorefield team is convinced they’ll be playing in an All-Ireland Final on St. Patrick’s Day.
And why wouldn’t they? Throughout the season they’ve shown they can find a way to win regardless of the circumstances.
“I think this year is big for us,” said Murray. “We have an inner belief that we are going to win an All-Ireland this year. Everybody is just willing to work for each other.
“I think our honesty in the group and that we're willing to die for one another, that'll come through on Saturday.”