Fermanagh run out of steam
Kildare 0-11 Fermanagh 0-5: Kildare booked their place in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final draw after a rejuvenated second half performance was enough to see-off beaten Ulster finalists Fermanagh at Croke Park this afternoon.
It is said all good things come to those who wait and that was certainly the case in this qualifier as it took all of 25 minutes before Padraig O'Neill scored the first point of the match for Kildare.
Kildare came into their own in the second half just as Fermanagh ran out of steam and the Ernesiders will surely look back on 10 wides as the primary source of their downfall.
Amid the continuous sequence of wides, the first real incident of the game came on the quarter hour mark when Kildare were awarded a penalty. John Doyle was pulled-down in the box by Ronan Gallagher and the referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot.
Doyle dusted himself down and looked set to open the scoring. However, despite all his experience the Lilywhites forward totally scuffed his effort and Gallagher was able to gather the easiest of saves.
Eamon Maguire equalised for Fermangh immediately after O'Neill's opener, while Doyle made amends for his penalty miss to fire over a Kildare free right on half time to give Kieran McGeeney's men a narrow 0-03 to 0-02 lead at the break.
With the low scoring game still in the balance it was Kildare who seized the initiative in the second period. Two bruising Ulster finals against Armagh looked to have caught up with Malachy O'Rourke's men as they struggled to make any impact.
At the same time Kildare found their composure and sure enough the points soon followed. The game was still poised at 0-05 to 0-04 in Kildare's favour before they proceeded to notch up five unanswered points and effectively end Fermanagh's hopes of advancing.
James Kavanagh fired over and Doyle picked off two points - he scored five points in all - while Emmett Bolton and substitute Daryl Flynn moved Kildare clear.
"It wasn't a great match to watch as both sides started very nervously and that was telling by the poor shooting in the first half," observed Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney.
"We stayed calm in the second half and regained our composure. Fermanagh normally have a high work rate but maybe their defeat last week finally caught up with them."
"We are bitterly disappointed," said O'Rourke after the game. "After last week's defeat in the Ulster final, we thought we had regrouped well and would put in a big performance.
"Those early wides maybe had a draining effect on the team."
Points: O'Neill, Earley, Doyle 5, Kavanagh 2, Bolton, Flynn
Points: Maguire, Keenan, Brewster, Doherty, Little