Kildare display their sharper edge
Kildare 2-14 Donegal 1-13:Kildare opened their Division One campaign with a hard-earned four-point win over the All-Ireland champions that probably owed as much to the extra games they had in pre-season as anything else.
Slightly fortuitous goals in either half from Tomás O’Connor and Johnny Doyle gave them enough of a cushion over a Donegal side that still has to work some early-season kinks out of its make-up.
The dominance of Kieran McGeeney’s side had been overwhelming in a first half that fairly sang for a game in the opening round of the league. Their speed, movement and accuracy was a pleasure to watch and it got its dividend in scores as the half wore on.
Doyle led the way with three points and was readily assisted by Brian Flanagan and Pádraig O’Neill. Newcomers Niall Kelly and Daniel Flynn were enthusiastic contributors as well, continuing the fine form they showed in the O’Byrne Cup.
Their opening goal came after 20 minutes, O’Connor pouncing on a Mikey Conway free that dropped down off the upright. The sides had been level at 0-3 apiece at that point but from there to the end Kildare were never caught.
They went in 1-7 to 0-5 ahead at half-time, Donegal hanging on mainly due to the industry of Michael Murphy who was close to unplayable for most of the night.
Murphy led Donegal’s fight-back in the second half, punching their sixth point (and his own fifth) two minutes after the restart.
Although Kelly and Doyle replied to extend Kildare’s lead, Murphy continued to dig in, sparking a Donegal revival in the third quarter.
From the 47th minute to the 60th, the All Ireland champions scored six unanswered points as substitutes Mark McHugh and Dermot Molloy got in on the act. With 10 minutes to go Kildare only led by a single point, 1-10 to 0-12.
Any hope of a ding-dong finish was quashed however when Doyle hoisted a hopeful kick of a point down at the Hill 16 end that was misjudged by Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan, dropping into the net to put Kildare well clear.
Although Donegal hit back with a scrambled goal of their own a minute later, Kildare had broken the Donegal momentum and it was they who had the better of the closing minutes. Further points from the excellent Kelly, Eoghan O’Flaherty and Paddy Brophy sealed the victory
KILDARE:S Connolly; O Lyons, H McGrillen, P Kelly; E Bolton, M Foley, M Conway (0-3, two frees);G White, P O’Neill; D Flynn, N Kelly (0-3), B Flanagan (0-1); T O’Connor (1-0),S Johnston, J Doyle (1-5, two frees).Subs: P Brophy (0-1)for Johnston (56 mins), E O’Flaherty (0-1)for White (63 mins), E Doyle for Bolton (60 mins).
DONEGAL:P Durcan; Declan Walsh, N McGee, E McGee; F McGlynn, L McLoone, A Thompson; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney; R Wherity, M Boyle, R Bradley; C McFadden, M Murphy (0-9, five frees), P McBrearty (0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: D Molloy (1-1)for McFadden (11 mins), M McHugh (0-1)for Boyle (32 mins), D McLaughlin for McGlynn (half-time).
Referee: C Reilly(Meath).