Experiments backfire for Kildare
Lilywhites will now face Tyrone after defeat to Down
Down's Kevin McKernan celebrates scoring a goal against Kildare during the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at Páirc Esler in Newry. Photograph: William Cherry/Inpho/Presseye
Down 3-13 Kildare 1-12
Kildare will face Tyrone in the league semi-final off the back of a comprehensive defeat at the hands of relegated Down.
The Lilywhites were assured of a play-off place before the game at Páirc Esler yesterday and it showed – positional switches and personnel changes meant Kildare lacked their usual cohesion and Down punished them accordingly.
“We changed a lot of things up today,” said coach Kieran McGeeney. “Some worked. Some didn’t work. Players got confused, but that’s what this game was for. The goals were the killer for us. We’ve a lot of work to do if we’re going to stick it up to Tyrone.”
After early Kildare points from Eoghan O’Flaherty and Johnny Doyle, Dow took the lead on 16 minutes when a good run by Mark Poland created space for Benny Coulter, who in turn picked out Eoin McCartan, who palmed home from close range.
Donal O’Hare’s accuracy from the dead ball though kept Down in front and when Coulter pointed just before the break it meant Down held a 1-6 to 0-6 lead at half-time.
It proved to be Coulter’s last contribution as a hamstring tweak saw the former All-Star replaced by Ryan Mallon at half-time.
Down emerged for the second half with attacking intent and a stretched their lead, firstly with a fine point from Kevin McKernan and then Eoin McCartan’s second goal.
McKernan cut through the Kildare defence and unleashed a shot which Shane Connolly could only parry. McCartan stabbed the rebound home
Down continued to press and effectively ended the game as a contest with their third goal on 54 minutes. Poland, Donal O’Hare and Kalum King moved the ball quickly in the build-up, allowing Kevin McKernan to smash the ball beyond Connolly in the Kildare goal.
Kildare scored a goal with six minutes to play as Pádraig O’Neill forced the ball over the line following a rebounded shot.