Kildare run rings around lacklustre Louth at Croke Park
Lilywhites run out 15-point winners in Leinster quarter-final
Kildare’s Niall Kelly scores a point with James Stewart of Louth chasing during the Leinster SFC quarter-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho
Kildare 1-22 Louth 1-7: This regularly happens to a young boxer. Stung so painfully by an early salvo of jabs and hooks from a superior opponent, they abandon their fundamentals and refuse to let their hands go for fear of retribution on the counter attack.
They stop working and just cling on. Brutal punishment is nearly always what follows.
That was Louth today. Their flatness made Kildare look awfully stylish as Jason Ryan’s men flooded the wide expanse of Croke Park, picking their opponents off at will.
It’s no real reflection of Kildare.
Louth’s ineptitude and inability to get a foothold in midfield meant we learnt very little from this Leinster quarter-final.
Sure, there was enough evidence to believe Niall Kelly and Pádraig Fogarty have bright futures as inter-county attackers. Kelly, the Athy man, is so compact with a gifted left boot that seems capable of raising a white flag at will.
Again, Louth made him look slicker than he may be.
Cathal McNally was another making hay before the heaven’s opened; registering 1-2 of Kildare’s 1-13 first-half total.
Louth’s reply was a paltry 0-5 and every time they registered a score back came Kildare in numbers. Fogarty was showing well on the inside forward line and only for three superb saves from Neil Gallagher, Louth would have conceded four goals at the turn.
Kelly was scratching his head in the same manner as Pele at the 1970 World Cup when Gallagher did his best Gordon Banks impression after just five minutes.
Kildare’s goal, when it finally came, was unstoppable. Done at pace and without breaking stride, McNally found Keith Cribbin who dished it off to Fogarty before the simplest of balls across the square found McNally.
Flapping Louth hands never touched the flying Lilywhites.
Matters weren’t helped by Mark Donnellan’s solidity in the Kildare goal, especially under high ball and when Shane Lennon unleashed a bullet from point-blank range early in the second half.
Lennon – despite the close attentions of Mick Foley – eventually rattled the net, in the 50th minute, but Kildare had already sauntered up to 1-17.
Louth got what their lack of intensity deserved. It was no reflection of how their manager Aidan O’Rourke used to go about his business in an Armagh jersey.
The scandalously loose marking was best exemplified by Emmet Bolton cruising from wing back to post 0-3. Then we saw Bolton working like a ravenous dog when Louth had the ball.
Endeavour wasn’t the only difference between the sides but it was the most obvious.
“That probably was (the most disappointing aspect),” said O’Rourke.
“It’s all related. Our best performances over the last year have all been down to a very, very high work rate and intensity in the tackle.
“Just go back to the game in Mullingar six weeks ago.
“If you are chasing the ball all day it doesn’t matter how many good footballers you have. We had no energy, very flat and that turned into no work rate.”
O’Rourke thought this problem had been addressed. It hasn’t.
“We have to look at all of our preparations and try and come up with the answers.”
Ryan had the luxury of withdrawing some of his best players – Bolton, McNally and Eamonn Callaghan – long before the finish.
“For sure, coming into today without the highest scoring forward in the league (Darroch Mulhall) and Mick O’Grady was our best defender was a big blow but the guys coped with it.”
Louth lost Brian Donnelly to concussion.
KILDARE: 1 M Donnellan; 2 H McGrillen, 3 M Foley, 7 K Cribbin (0-1); 5 O Lyons (0-1), 6 F Conway, 4 E Bolton (0-3); 8 T Moolick (0-1), 12 P O’Neill (0-1); 9 S Hurley, 13 E Callaghan (0-1) (capt), 10 C McNally (1-2); 26 P Fogarty (0-3, two frees), 15 P Brophy (0-3, one free), 11 N Kelly (0-3). Substitutions: 20 E O’Flaherty (0-1) for C McNally (45 mins), 23 A Smith (0-2) for S Hurley (53 mins), 14 T O’Connor for D Fogarty, 22 D Flynn for E Callaghan (both 61 mins), 18 C Fitzpatrick for E Bolton (63 mins).
LOUTH: 1 N Gallagher; 2 P Rath, 3 D Finnegan, 15 M Fanning; 5 P Reilly, 6 D Crilly, 7 A Reid; 8 P Keenan (0-2) (capt), 10 A McDonnell; 4 J O’Brien (0-1), 11 B White, 12 D Maguire; 13 D Byrne, 20 S Lennon (1-3, one free), 14 C Grimes (0-1). Substitutions: 26 J Stewart for M Fanning (17 mins), 18 R Burns for B White (31 mins), 9 B Donnelly for P Reilly (45 mins), 22 E Lafferty for D Maguire (50 mins), 24 S O’Hanlon for B Donnell (60 mins), 17 R Brodigan for D Byrne (66 mins).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).