Kildare finish stronger to beat Longford in the qualifiers

Padraig McCormack’s black card proves crucial as Kildare kick on when it matters

Kildare 1-16 Longford 1-13

Kildare booked their place in the third round of the qualifiers with a hard fought win over a gritty Longford side in Pearse Park on Saturday evening.

The teams were level on 10 occasions in an entertaining encounter, with Kildare only hitting the front for the first time in the 69th minute. And when they did, it was a lead they weren't going to relinquish. Chris Healy then added a goal, meaning that when Robbie Smyth goaled for Longford it was too little, too late.

Kildare finished the game with 14 players with Peter Kelly being sent off for two yellows. They also had Niall Kelly black carded in the third minute while Longford lost influential fullback Padraig McCormack - also to a black card in the 52nd minute. It was a turning point.

In a tight opening half Longford missed a number of chances, hitting the crossbar twice. Two points from Smyth (one free) gave the hosts an early two point lead, before Neil Flynn replied with two points to level the sides for the first time.

With the sides level again for the third time in the 21st minute Longford were unlucky not to score a goal when Smyth's effort was saved by Kildare 'keeper Mark Donnellan. Liam Connerton smashed the ball off the crossbar with the follow-up.

A fantastic run from Donie McElligott ended with the captain again rattling the crossbar with a powerful shot, but this time the ball went over the bar. A nice point from Daniel Flynn saw Kildare trail at the break by one, 0-9 to 0-8.

Things were tight again in the second half. Longford extended their lead in the 58th minute with a fantastic point from Darren Gallagher but they couldn't build on that score as Kildare took control of proceedings and eventually ran out winners by three points.

Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland (0-1), M O'Grady; J Murray, E Doyle (0-1), K Flynn; P Brophy (0-2) T Moolick (0-2); F Conway (0-1), P Cribbin (0-2), K Cribbin; N Flynn (0-5,3f), D Flynn (0-1), N Kelly.

Subs: E O’Connor for Kelly (bc 5), D Slattery for K Cribbin (44), J Byrne for Murray (50), C Healy (1-0) for Moolick (52), C McNally for O’Connor (56), K Feely (0-1) for Conway (bc 69).

Longford: P Collum (0-1,'45); P Fox, P McCormack, D Masterson; M Quinn, D McElligott (0-1), D Mimnagh; D Gallagher (0-2), C Berry (0-1); D McGivney (0-1,1f), D Reynolds, B McKeon; R Smyth (1-5,3f), S McCormack (0-1), L Connerton (0-1).

Subs: B Gilleran for P McCormack bc (52), A Farrell for Berry (69), D Quinn for Mimnagh (70), P Foy for McKeon (70+5), S Kenny for Mimnagh (70+7), M Nally for Gallagher (70+9).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)