EXPECTATIONS were low so there was no great disappointment or surprise when the Kilkenny footballers bowed out of the Leinster junior football championship in Newbridge. At least this defeat was less painful than some of the batterings the county suffered in the recent National League, which is a competition for senior sides.
Kildare’s opening defence of the title never looked difficult in any way, and the 13 point victory overly lowly Kilkenny had something to do with the fact that they didn’t let rip completely. Tony Kelly’s side play Meath in the penultimate round in St Conleth’s Park on June 13.
This was a total mis-match and the Lilies learned little from the experience. A converted penalty from Graham Lawlor was Kilkenny’s sole score of the opening half. Sadly, they had to wait until the 52nd minute to add to their miserly tally.
By that point the home side were 13 points clear and cruising.
Finished with 14 men
Kildare lined out with one change to the team that beat Louth in the opening round. Kilcullen’s Darren Barker came in for the injured Mossie McCann, while at full-forward Dermot Early made his second start for the side. He chipped in with two points before being replaced by Clogherinkoe’s Robbie Dunne after 45 minutes.
The downside to the Lilies victory was the fact that they finished with 14 men after one of their players was shown a straight red card for an apparent off the ball incident. At times Kildare’s shooting was off, something that could be costly against better opposition.
All the same, the job was done and straight after the final whistle all thoughts turned to the semi finals, with the winners facing Cavan in the decider.
From the throw-in Kildare were in control. They might have had a goal in the second minute when a long ball in from Darren Barker ended in the possession of Earley, but the Sarsfields’ man missed what could be classed as a good chance. Soon after though Seamus Hanafin opened his and Kildare’s account when he converted a free. This was followed by a point from Daniel Flynn, who fisted over J.J. O’Sullivan’s cross bar to double the Lilies’ early advantage.
Hanafin grabbed his first from play in the sixth minute, but Kilkenny quickly restored parity when Michael Bergin was dragged to the ground. The full forward Graham Lawlor slotted the penalty past Grange net minder William Clynch to leave the score at 0-3 to 1-0.
That was as good as it was to get for the visitors, however. They failed to score during the next 44 minutes. During that time Kildare tagged the fine total of 13 points to book their place in the next round.
Cathal McNally, Dermot Earley and Hanafin (free) responded with points after Kilkenny’s leveller to leave Kildare leading by double scores. Before the break they added a further five points to lead by 0-11 to 1-0.
In all honesty, Kildare should have been further ahead. Too many chances were missed and by the 39th minute alone Kildare had hit 12 wides. Such wastefulness mattered little against poor opposition.
The second half? It belonged to Kildare, completely.
Scorers: Kildare - Seamus Hanafin (0-4, three frees); Cathal McNally (0-2); Dermot Earley (0-2); Darren Barker (0-2); Cian Bolton (0-2, one free); Aidan Dunne (0-2, one freee); Daniel Flynn, Gareth Duffy, Colm Fagan, Joey Keogh (0-1 each). Kilkenny – Graham Lawlor (1-0, penalty); Brian Byrne (0-2, frees).
Kildare - William Clynch; Jamie Lambe, William Burke, Darren Barker; Colin O’Shea, Eamonn Fitzpatrick, Colm Fagan; Barry Lawlor, Conor Feeney; Cian Bolton, Seamus Hanafin, Daniel Flynn; Gareth Duffy, Dermot Earley, Cathal McNally. Subs: Aidan Dunne replaced C McNally 42 mins, Robbie Dunne replaced D Earley 45 mins, Mark Cornish replaced S Hanafin 53 mins, Joey Keogh replaced J Lambe 53 mins, Emmet O’Keeffe replaced G Duffy 55 mins.
Kilkenny - J.J. O’Sullivan; Declan Grennan, Paul Donnelly, JJ Grace; John Cullinane, Ollie Walsh, Michael Bergin; Michael Malone, Sean Mooney; Darren Fitzpatrick, Brian Byrne, Richard O’Hara; Robert Shore, Graham Lawlor, Alan Ruth. Subs: Joe Fennelly replaced R Shore 25 mins, John Mulhall replaced J Cullinane HT, John Grennan replaced M Bergin 47 mins, James Culleton replaced A Ruth 51 mins, Joe Dollard replaced G Lawlor 55 mins.
Referee - Ronald Malone (Dublin).