Derry show up Kildare weaknesses

 

THE two point victory margin gave a very false picture of this match at Newbridge, in which Derry dramatically improved their prospects of qualifying for the play off stages of the National League and, in the process, put Kildare's previously good under the microscope.

To be quite brutal about it, Kildare were dreadful, and were flattered by the final score. Indeed, if they hadn't taken advantage of an awful Derry defensive gaffe in the early minutes of the second half they would have been humiliated.

And yet they must get credit for a spirited bid to draw or win the match in the last few minutes when Derry lost their way.

In fact it took a splendid save from Derry's captain, Kieran McKeever and an equally courageous effort from their goalkeeper, Jonathan Kelly, to protect their excellent earlier form.

Derry will have taken the long journey home to reflect on a match which they should have won by a much wider margin. They totally dominated the middle of the field, where Anthony Tohill lorded it over a succession of Kildare challengers and was well supported by Dermot Dougan.

Dougan was moved from his programme position of corner forward, with Henry Downey moving back to centre back and Dermot Heaney switching to centre forward. Joe Brolly came into the attack at right corner forward and Joe Cassidy came in at full forward.

It was no surprise that Brolly caused endless problems for Kildare in general and Anthony Rainbow in particular. Seamus Downey also caused problems when he came on a sub late in the first half.

Kildare supporters were pleased that Niall Buckley made a belated, appearance in the second hall, but his introduction emphasised how much the team had been missing him earlier on - it would have been a travesty if Kildare had, stolen a point, or even two, as might have done.

Derry will worry about their fade out, the one negative facet in an otherwise competent performance, while Kildare manager, Mick O'Dwyer will ponder on hiss side's lack of a really imposing physical presence.

One of the talking points wail undoubtedly, be the sending off of Gary Coleman of Derry and Eddie McCormack of Kildare a minute for so before the break. Play had been stopped for an injury to a Derry player when, apparently, the two became involved in an altercation away from the action. Referee Pat McEneaney was, surely, harsh in his decision to end their influence on the match, after he had consulted with a linesman.

After pretty even opening action, Derry took control by building up a 1-4 to 0-1 lead by the 20th minute. With Tohill totally dominant at midfield, Kildare were in difficulty, and the pressure told when a typical raid by Brolly resulted in a goal in the ninth minute. Derry were ahead by 1-5 to 0-2 at half time.

Kildare supporters in the crowd of about 5,000 were despondent at the break, but things changed rapidly when Kildare swept down on the Derry goal. A speculative shot by Derek Maher deceived Kelly in the Derry goal, and seemed to slip through his hands. It rebounded off a post and Paul McCormack nudged it into the net. Kildare, it seemed, were back in the game.

Derry did not falter, however, and were leading 1-10 to 1-3 by the 15th minute of the half. It was then that Kildare seemed to detect some vulnerability in the Derry side and points from Johnny McDonald, Graven, Martin Lynch, McDonald again and Tom Harris left Derry hanging on grimly.

Two goal bound efforts by Graven were saved by, respectively, Kieran McKeever (with Kelly beaten) and then Kelly, with a courageous dive in a goalmouth scramble.

The saves prevented Kildare from grabbing what would have been an undeserved victory.