Allianz NFL Division 2
Kildare turned in arguably their best performance of Cian O'Neill's tenure to date as they hit the net four times to easily dispatch Fermanagh in St Conleth's Park and, momentarily at least, return to the top of Division 2. It was a superbly well-rounded performance as the defence kept a normally potent Fermanagh attack at bay throughout, with Mick O'Grady particularly impressive, while they offered verve and class in attack as they ripped through the visitor's rearguard time and again.
The game was essentially won during a 14-minute period when Kildare struck 3-6, while Fermanagh registered just one point during that spell.
It was hard to imagine Kildare pulling away quite so much when Fermanagh kicked the first three points of the game, two of which were sensational long range efforts from centre-forward Barry Mulrone, while Tomas Corrigan chipped in with the first score of the tie with a pointed free.
It was all Kildare from that point onwards however, and a fine burst between the ninth and 23rd minute helped Kildare essentially put the game to bed, and it really was a period in which the Lilywhites showed just what they are capable of when their attack fires on all cylinders. Fermanagh couldn't handle the pace of Kildare's runners coming from the middle of the pitch, with the likes of Keith Cribbin, Fergal Conway, Daniel Flynn and Paul Cribbin all marauding forward, while the intelligent runs of Chris Healy and Neill Flynn inside gave them some variation in attack.
It was Daniel Flynn who got Kildare off the mark in the ninth minute as he knocked over a point from the right wing following a strong run, while Neill Flynn slotted over a close range free soon after. A long range Mickey Jones score kept Fermanagh ticking over, but the Lilywhites struck for their first major of the game almost immediately after. It was a fine move that culminated in Daniel Flynn sending Fergal Conway through on goal, and with the angle unfavourable the Celbridge man chose to shovel the ball across to Moolick and he palmed it into the net.
A Ryan Jones point kept the Fermanagh scoreboard ticking, but Kildare then went and scored 2-4 without reply to really wrestle control of the game away from their opponents. Kevin Feely and Chris Healy both knocked over decent scores, while Neill Flynn landed Kildare's best point of the half when he cut in superbly off the left wing before dissecting the posts with a shot from 35 metres.
Moolick's second goal arrived in the 19th minute as Kildare showed remarkable composure on the ball, with both Flynns, Paul Cribbin, Johnny Byrne and Niall Kelly all holding onto possession before Mick O'Grady attempted a shot, and with the ball dropping short it was the Leixlip man who ghosted into the square to beat Christopher Snow in the air and divert it into the net.
Niall Kelly then pointed his first of the afternoon with a fine effort from distance, and when Neill Flynn caught the Fermanagh defence sleeping by picking out Chris Healy from a close range free, the Two Mile House man made no mistake by darting a low effort into the bottom corner of Snow's net to effectively kill the game off.
If there was one area of concern to take from this game it was Kildare's slack finish to the first half as they allowed Fermanagh to gain a foothold in the contest by reeling off four points in a row through Sean Quigley, Aidan Breen, Eoin Donnelly and Barry Mulrone. Breen's point could easily have been a goal were it not for Mark Donnellan, as the Maynooth goalkeeper parried his powerful effort over the bar.
Kildare went in with a 3-6 to 0-9 lead at the interval, though, following the poor final 10 minutes of the first half, it was imperative that they began the second 35 minutes on the front foot.
They did just that as Neill Flynn settled the Lilywhites back into the game by knocking over a close range free. Fionn Dowling, on as a substitute for the injured Kevin Feely, then sent over a stunning point from 50 metres, before Neill Flynn scored his fourth of the day after being set up by Mick O'Grady.
Kildare's fourth goal came directly after as Healy turned provider by finding Daniel Flynn with a quick free, and the Johnstownbridge man found the net after rounding Snow. It was game over at that stage, and the remaining 30 minutes were merely a matter of not panicking and maintaining their sizable advantage.
Both sides essentially went blow for blow from that point onwards as Quigley and Corrigan landed frees and Mulrone also hit the target for the visitors, but Kildare eased through the final stages of the game as impressive points from Dowling, Paul Cribbin and Conway helped them to saunter towards the finish line.
Eddie Heavey was handed a league debut too, and the Moorefield man also got his name on the scoresheet, while Conor Hartley got his first score at this level after coming on late in the game. Fermanagh lost Ryan Jones to a second yellow in injury time, but it made no difference to the outcome as Kildare finished out the game to record their most impressive win of the year so far.
Scorers for Kildare: T Moolick 2-0, N Flynn 0-4(2f), D Flynn and C Healy 1-1 each, F Dowling 0-2, K Feely, E Heavey, C Hartley, P Cribbin, F Conway and N Kelly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Fermanagh: B Mulrone 0-4, S Quigley(2f), R Jones(1f) and T Corrigan(2f) 0-2 each, A Breen, E Donnelly, M Jones and R Lyons 0-1 each.
M Donnellan; M O'Grady, D Hyland, O Lyons; J Byrne(P Kelly 64mins), E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely(F Dowling 31mins), T Moolick; F Conway, N Kelly(C Hartley 62mins), P Cribbin(E Heavey 61mins); N Flynn(E Callaghan 63mins), D Flynn(C McNally 53mins), C Healy.
C Snow; M Jones, C Cullen, J McMahon; D McCusker, R McCluskey(S McManus 59mins), L Cullen(R Hyde ht); E Donnelly, B Mulrone; P McCusker(R Lyons 59mins), R Jones, A Breen; T Corrigan, S Quigley, E Courtney(T McCaffrey 61mins).
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