Kildare withstand Wicklow revival to set up Longford clash
Cian O’Neill’s team lost to Carlow in last year’s opener, but avoided a repeat here
Kildare’s Fergal Conway is tackled by Wicklow’s Daniel Keane. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho
Wicklow 1-10 Kildare 0-15
This game was still up for grabs right down to the very last kick of the ball but eventually Kildare came away from Dr Cullen Park on Saturday evening with a two point win to book a Leinster quarter-final date with Longford in two weeks.
Wicklow staged a late comeback but in the end it just fell short. Without ever being anything more than average, they hauled themselves back into the game in the second half and might even have ben left slightly disappointed not to have caused an upset.
Kildare will need to be much improved against Longford if they are to progress any further in this year’s competition - after a quite promising first half almost turned to disaster in the second.
Cian O’Neill’s team led by seven points with seven minutes to go but Darren Hayden’s 60th minute goal gave the men from the Garden County a lifeline and they caused plenty of problems late on for Kildare.
There was little to suggest that it would be a close finish after a first half dominated by Kildare though. They led 0-9 to 0-4 and really should have been further ahead after kicking seven wides.
Forwards like Ben McCormack, Adam Tyrell and Eoghan O’Flaherty were all showing well and causing Wicklow lots of concern.
The scores were tied at 0-3 each after 12 minutes but Kildare were totally on top from there until the half time whistle. They scored six points in a row and completely overpowered their opponents around the middle third, where Kevin Feely gave an exhibition of high fielding.
Kildare almost rounded off their half with a goal in one of the last attacks before the break but David Slattery’s shot was palmed away by Wicklow goalkeeper Mark Jackson.
The intensity dropped from the game through the early stages of the second half and Kildare appeared to believe they had the game won and their focus slipped as a result. Unforced errors began to creep into their game and Wicklow suddenly sensed there was an opportunity for them.
Dean Healy put in a real captain’s shift for his team in the centre of the field and having been narrowly off target with an earlier goal chance, he danced his way through the Kildare defence on the hour mark to set up Hayden for the game’s only goal.
Patrick O’Connor then pounced on a poor David Hyland handpass to point two minutes later. If anything, Wicklow will regret not taking a couple of chances to cut the gap to a single point and really apply pressure to Kildare.
Neil Flynn’s 69th minute point was an important score for Kildare but the gap was cut again by Daniel Keane in injury time. Two points down, Wicklow had one chance in the last attack to drop a goal into the Kildare goalmouth but the Lilywhites survived for an unimpressive win.
Kildare: M Donnellan; M Dempsey, D Hyland (0-1), M Hyland, P Kelly, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely, F Conway (0-1); D Slattery, B McCormack (0-2), E O’Flaherty (0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1’45), ATyrrell (0-5, 0-4 frees), P Brophy (0-1), J Hyland. Subs: C O’Donoghue for Cribbin (48), Neil Flynn (0-1, 0-1 free) for O’Flaherty (48), C Hartley for McCormack (56), T Moolick for Slattery (60); Jason Gibbons for Tyrrell (68).
Yellow cards: K Cribbin, B McCormack, T Moolick, E Doyle
Wicklow: M Jackson (0-1, 0-1 free); E Murtagh, R O’Brien, J Snell, D Devereux, S Mooney, D Fitzgerald; D Healy (0-1), P O’Toole (0-1); D Hayden (1-0), A McLoughlin, T Smith (0-1), M Kenny (0-2), C McGraynor (0-1, 0-1 free), P O’Connor (0-2). Subs: C McGee for McLoughlin (h/t), C O’Brien for McGraynor (44), O Manning for Mooney (47), D Keane (0-1) for Hayden (68), S Kieron for O’Toole (70+1).
Yellow cards: D Fitzgerald, D Healy, O Manning, R O’Brien
Referee: Noel Mooney.