Sheridan latest find for Kildare

 

An Exorcism of sorts saw Kildare get the All-Ireland defeat against Galway out of their systems in this convincing victory over Down in Newbridge yesterday.

"It was a very important win for the morale of this team," said manager Mick O'Dwyer afterwards. "I've said before that it was a fabulous championship for us this summer, but we were unlucky with injuries in the final stage and that made the defeat somewhat harder to take."

Kildare made a few alterations from the side that lost to Galway, but the only real change of note was the introduction of former Meath player Cathal Sheridan, who exceeded all expectations at corner forward. Sheridan, a member of the Kilcock club, is the latest "import" in the Kildare set-up following Karl O'Dwyer, Brian Lacey and Brian Murphy.

Sheridan's contribution from frees was impressive, but the confidence with which he took the only goal of the game was far more noteworthy. He had made a brief championship appearance against Laois early in the summer, but with the competitive state of the county squad at that time had to postpone his impact on O'Dwyer. For the 7,000 who turned up at St Conleth's Park there was more familiar reliability elsewhere. Glen Ryan , Willie McCreery and Dermot Earley all displayed their usual flair while Karl O'Dwyer and Paul McCormack also provided timely reminders of their own abilities.

Down, however, struggled to take the first step of their much needed restoration to competitive football. They put up some sort of challenge in the early stages, keeping pace with Kildare's casual and rather sleepy first 10 minutes. Shane Mulholland sandwiched a free in between Sheridan and Eddie McCormack, but by the middle of the half Down were beginning to crack in most areas, allowing McCreery to ease over the first point from play before Sheridan put them three points up.

Against the odds, Down then put together one of the better periods of the game, as Shane Ward finished two well-designed attacks with points and Gavin Murdock was unlucky not to do the same.

Time then for Sheridan to make his presence felt once more and when O'Dwyer played a long ball into Paul McCormack, he passed to Sheridan, who danced past Paul McShane and sweetly dummied Michael McVeigh in goal to tap home the ball into an open net.

Five points up at half-time and even with their All-Ireland experience against Galway, Kildare must have felt confident of holding this lead in the second half. Sheridan had Kildare supporters pulling out their much used flags again with two sharply angled scores in succession. O'Dwyer finally got his much sought-after points while one of the biggest cheers was reserved for captain Glen Ryan, as the Round Towers man claimed the next to last score in the final minutes. The inevitable consolation score for Down left them seven points adrift at the end, but Kildare's seven wides of that half was some reminder to them of how much worse it could have been. "There was some good kicking and plenty of good movement," commented O'Dwyer on this performance. "It is a very satisfying result from our point of view, but I have to say that some of those experimental rules proved a bit of a joke.

"How the goalkeeper is expected to function without punching the ball I don't know, and the fist pass rule for players caused way more confusion than necessary."

Judging by the players' reactions to any of referee Mick Curley's decisions to halt play for the misuse of the hand pass, there seems to be considerable sympathy with O'Dwyer's view.

O'Dwyer is not committing himself to any sort of excessive league emphasis. "We haven't been training for this and won't be for the time being either," he said. "We'll be taking each game as it comes, each of which taking us to next year."

Kildare: C Byrne; B Lacey, E Mulhall, K Doyle; A Rainbow, G Ryan (0-1), K Doyle; , W McCreery (0-2), D Earley; E McCormack (0-1), D Kerrigan (0-1), K O'Dwyer (0-1); N Donlon, P McCormack (0-1), C Sheridan (1-5, four frees). Sub: P Graven for Donlon (50 mins).

Down: M McVeigh; D Flynn, K Franklin, P McShane; F Caulfield, M Magill, D Anderson; E Woods, G McCartan (0-1); S Mulholland (0-3, two frees), G Murdock, A Quinn, M Linden (0-1), P Higgins, S Ward (0-2). Subs: D McCartan for Quinn (41 mins), G Deegan for Woods (41 mins), A Cole for Murdock (47 mins).

Referee: M Curley (Galway).