Kildare finish strongly to oust Louth
Home side pegged back late as Tomás O’Connor’s goal proves crucial
Ciaran Byrne of Louth removes a stray dog from the pitch in Newbridge. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Kildare 1-19 Louth 0-15
Kildare survived a stern examination from Louth to maintain their 100 per cent qualifier record under Kieran McGeeney.
A remarkable 13 players contributed to the Kildare scoring during a hugely entertaining game. Yet with so many young players, the backdoor territory wasn’t necessarily familiar, even if the result was.
“We have seven or eight new fellas that are the mainstay of this team now” said McGeeney afterwards. “But it is new for them. To be able to lift that up.
“The negativity and abuse that surrounds defeat, you just have to learn to deal with that. It’s not hard to deal with the claps on the back, it’s harder to deal with the kicks in the ass. If that can develop character in them it’s a good thing because they’re going to need it somewhere along their sporting career.”
Kildare supporters didn’t take the manner of the 16-point defeat to Dublin lightly and there were all sorts of wild rumours afterwards of defections and disharmony. You wondered if the negativity might weigh heavily on the youngsters but they showed that they still had the heart for the battle.
They were four points down after Brian White sent over a fabulous 46th minute point but won by seven. “As I said at the start, it was going to be a tough two weeks and it was” McGeeney declared. “Not because they were downhearted by the 15 (sic) points they got beat by. They were more downhearted by the way they performed themselves.
‘Nobody had worked’
“They knew they were lazy against Dublin, they gave the ball away cheaply, nobody had worked, nobody had put them under pressure and they were very disappointed with that, in themselves.
“When you look at it and see how much possession Kildare had, especially in the first 50-55 minutes. What we gave away so cheaply, it’s not good for either of us, players or management.
“Today I was very happy, very proud of the boys. They showed great character. It’s very hard to show character when everything’s going your way. You can only show it when it’s not, when it’s going against you, when you’re low on the ground and I think they did that tonight.”
Kildare sprung out of the traps with the opening three points but Louth gradually clawed themelves back into it, with their own prodigy, Ciarán Byrne kicking four of his five points from play to edge them into a 0-10 to 0-8 interval lead.
That margin stretched to four when White landed a near-miraculous score but Kildare outscored Louth 1-10 to 0-2 from there to the end. Shane Connolly was majestic under the high ball and Peter Kelly put the clamps on Shane Lennon. What was critical though was the impact Tomás O’Connor, Eamonn Callaghan, Seánie Johnston and Alan Smith all had off the bench.
Doyle converted a free for a foul on O’Connor before the Clane giant caught Smith’s wayward attempt at a point brilliantly under pressure from Dessie Finnegan, turned the full-back and rounded Shane McCoy before shooting a 66th minute goal that finally ended Louth’s stubborn resistance. “I would have felt for three-quarters of the game we were the better team” said Louth manager, Aidan O’Rourke. “If we had taken our chances, and one or two balls had bounced our way. That didn’t happen but we kept going and felt if we kept banging on the door it would open. Ultimately we just fell short in terms of composure.”
KILDARE: S Connolly; H McGrillen (0-1), P Kelly, D Hyland; P Cribbin (0-1), M O’Flaherty, E Bolton (0-1); Daryl Flynn, P O’Neill (0-1); Daniel Flynn (0-1), M Conway (0-2, frees), E O’Flaherty (0-3); N Kelly (0-1), P Brophy (0-1), J Doyle (0-5, two frees). Subs: T O’Connor (1-0) for Cribbin (32 mins), A Smith (0-1) for Conway (42 mins), E Callaghan for Daniel Flynn (45 mins), S Johnston 0-1 for Kelly (57 mins), J Byrne for M O’Flaherty (63 mins).
LOUTH: S McCoy; P Rath, D Finnegan, J Bingham; D Crilly, J O’Brien, A Reid; P Keenan, C Rafferty; D Maguire, B White (0-4, two frees), R Finnegan (0-1); C Judge (0-3, one free), S Lennon (0-2), C Byrne (0-5). Subs: C Bellew for Rath blood (5); R Carroll for Keenan blood (5-12); R Carroll for Rafferty (h-t), G Hoey (0-1 ) for R Finnegan (57 mins). K Rogers for Maguire (70 mins).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).