Kildare have too much for Offaly but leave Kieran McGeeney annoyed at sloppiness

Emmet McDonnell proud of his side’s effort against much stronger contenders

Kildare 0-19 Offaly 1-12: A yawn and a stretch and not a whole lot more from Kildare on Saturday night. Not for the first time they put up a big score without shivering the timbers of the gathered hordes. Kieran McGeeney handed five players their championship debuts and tossed in another couple of newbies in the second half.

The four points they had to spare in the end drew the picture well enough. They were much better than Offaly but didn’t quite earn the right to crush them. A late David Hanlon penalty even got Emmet McDonnell’s side to within a kick of a ball as the game drifted into injury-time but it was purely down to Kildare idling in front with the winning post in sight. A Seánie Johnston point straight after was the inevitable kick for the line.

"It was just sloppy in the second half," said McGeeney afterwards. "We knew Offaly were going to come at us because they're stronger and fitter and better organised and they have a manager in place who knows what he's doing.

'Made a game of it'
"With 10 minutes to go they should have been home and hosed but they weren't. Offaly made a game of it."

As they did at the end, so Offaly had done at the beginning and there was little to choose between the sides. Kildare hoiked four early wides and with Offaly game and aggressive, the teams stood level at 0-4 apiece after 23. Although Kildare dominated midfield, Niall McNamee looked a threat for Offaly any time they managed to feed him in at full forward.


Kildare flexed their muscle as the half wore on, with each of their half-forward line impressive. Eoghan O'Flaherty almost had a goal when put through by Emmet Bolton only for Alan Mulhall to produce the first – and best – of three wonderful saves. Johnny Doyle kept the scoreboard ticking from frees and from play, sending Kildare in at half-time 0-10 to 0-7 up.

Offaly did raise a brief gallop in scoring the next three points after the break. But their momentum stalled and jammed on the back of a small sliver of history, a Peter Cunningham shot on 45 minutes prompting the first ever use of the new Hawkeye system. Though there was a hint of North Korea about it – nobody was in any real doubt that the ball was wide so it smacked a little of them using it to show that it could be used – it was a light enough diversion.

Missed target
Of far more consequence was the fact that Cunningham's shot had missed its target

As it was, Kildare stood heavy on the accelerator to kick the next six points in a row through Niall Kelly, Paul Cribbin (two), O'Flaherty and Doyle (two). It killed the game dead.

"We're disappointed because we're not here for moral victories," said McDonnell. "We'll take a lot of things out of it. We're six months training while they're six years on the go under Kieran McGeeney. That was probably the difference ."

OFFALY: A Mulhall (0-1); B Darby, S Sullivan, D Brady; E Carroll, S Sullivan, M Brazil; A McNamee (0-1), B Connor; G Guilfoyle (0-1), J Brickland, D Hanlon (1-0, 1-0 pen); A Sullivan, N McNamee (0-4), K Casey (0-4, three frees). Subs: P Cunningham for Carroll (27 mins); N Darby (0-1) for Brazil (45 mins); J Moloney for O'Connor (52 mins); R Allen for Brickland (55 mins); P McPadden for Sullivan (57 mins). Yellow card: Hanlon, Sullivan.

KILDARE: M Donnellan; P Kelly, M Foley, H McGrillen; O Lyons, E Callaghan, E Bolton; Daryl Flynn, Daniel Flynn; P Cribbin (0-4), N Kelly (0-4), E O'Flaherty (0-4); J Doyle (0-6, four frees), T O'Connor, P Brophy. Subs: F Dowling for Brophy (45 mins), S Johnston (0-1) for O'Connor (55 mins), M O'Flaherty for E O'Flaherty (61 mins), D Hyland for Bolton, R Kelly for Daryl Flynn (both 64 mins).Yellow card: Daniel Flynn.
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare)

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times