08 Aug 2022

No chocs but Kildare sparkle in the Portlaoise sun

Lilies have too much in the tank for disappointing home side

No chocs but Kildare sparkle in the Portlaoise sun

Neil Flynn of Kildare in action against Séamus Lacey of Laois during the AFL game on Sunday last

The Doc, that is Tony Houlihan would not have been a happy camper had he been in O'Moore Park on Sunday.
Not happy at all.
Some thirty minutes or so before throw-in at the vital local derby between Kildare and Laois, the PA system was blasting out a Phil Lynott version of Whiskey In The Jar.
Loud music and Tony don't go hand-in-hand and while the good Doc would be delighted to see the stadium all but empty, the loud music of the bauld Phil could have earned him a rebuke on the doc's twitter account.
Heading into the ground and I have to say I thought for a brief minute I was losing the plot with the sight of what looked like something akin to Evil Knievel dismounting from a powerful looking two-wheel machine.
But Evil Knievel it certainly was not. In fact it was one of our own, none other than former crack defender Peter McConnon, match analysist along with Johnny Doyle and commentator Ger McNally on Kfm.
By the time Peter had the gear, helmet and gloves and all the other paraphernalia off and tucked into the body of the machine, fella analysist, Johnny Doyle was wondering if he (Peter) would miss the opening half of the game.
It was a day borrowed from times past. You remember those days, the sun splitting the trees and the heat so intense many is the auld lad, in the absence of sun block, used his neatly ironed Sunday morning handkerchief knotted at the four corners and planted firmly on his head.
A time when before, and indeed during the game, hawkers would mingle between rows of seats shouting “anyone for the last of the chocs” and once that particular cardboard box was empty another box would miraculously appear and another blast of “anyone for the last of the chocs.”
No hawkers anymore at games although they do attend the race meetings (or did) but rarely have chocs on their stalls, more like “three bars for two euro” on the way in; “four bars for two euro on the way out” or if you prefer “two giant sized toblerones for a fiver” not forgetting a punter being informed “there's a bag of fruit for three euro to bring home to the kids.”
Great days. Great times.
When Phil (Lynott) finally emptied all the whiskey from the jar on Sunday and we could again hear ourselves thinking, the PA informed the few of us present of the team changes.
There are four changes on the Laois team, we were informed.
To be honest I was half expecting one of them to be Bob Dillon as Bob seems to have been playing everywhere else over the past week or so, but no Bob in Portlaoise, obviously Blowing In The Wind in some other exotic venue.
So four changes for the boys in blue and white and while we were informed of their names, the starting Laois lineout remained a bit of a State secret; unlike the Kildare starting side which was announced 1 to 15.
Strange or what I say to myself.
A bit of a Laois stroke?
Surely not.
For some reason two Laois natives popped into my head. Mark Carroll, now long time resident of Newbridge and Oliver Hennessy, who camps in the county town.
A win today for The Lilies, apart from giving Kildare a great boost, would also ensure bumping into either, or both of those gents, would be something to look forward to.
As things panned out there was little to worry about as Kildare, without setting the place alight, early on at least, opened a three point lead, scoring four points in six minutes, putting them in command and giving them a grip they were never to lose.
Yet, despite what the score board was telling us, Laois were actually more in the game than it (scoreboard) was suggesting but the home side were, well to be honest, in front of goals, shocking, and while seven wides does not look too bad for the opening 35 minutes, the fact that most were from very scorable positions that must have had manager Mike Quirke, scratching his head in absolute frustration.
Jimmy Hyland was again in flying form for The Lilies, he really is coming to his milk at this level while the Flynn boys, Kevin and Neil are presently playing to the top of their games.
Brian McLoughlin, a somewhat surprise starter, but the youngster who is comfortable wearing a white jersey coming from Clane, all things considered, did well, even one of the umpires attempted to give him a point from a close-in free that was definitely left and wide, but the linesman ensured otherwise.
Another new comer, Luke Flynn raised the first green flag (and it could have been his second after Kieran Lillis denied him earlier) as Kildare led at the break 1-7 to 0-4.
Comfortable but far from over.
A blow for The Lilies with no Kevin Feely reappearing but U20 captain of 2018, Aaron Masterson stepped into the breach and put the disappointment of not starting to one side, scoring two top class long range points and overall had a really decent second half, showing his kick passing skills on more than a few occasions.
Dominant, yet after Kevin Flynn had got his second goal of this campaign, not bad for a wing back, Kildare gifted Laois a goal when an attempted back pass (they should be banned) went astray and Gary Walsh gave his side a bit of a lifeline.
The culprit, Paul Cribbin, could have been distracted having possibly spotted one Billy Dunne hanging out of a window of the apartment block (again) on the far side of the pitch!
In fairness The Lilies did not wilt under the hot sun going on to raise another nine white flags and not only win by all of 13 points and now, due to scoring averages, top the group, putting Clare into second spot and Cork into a relegation semi final.
The smile on the feasóg of Kildare captain, David Hyland, said it all as he drove out heading home after the game.
Another derby.
Another win for Kildare.
Another defeat for the neighbours.
No more need be said.
Jack was also happy after the game, complimented his players, while admitting there was still a lot of room for improvement (very true Jack, very true) while not for the first time suggesting that the wide expanses of O'Moore Park suits The Lilies a lot more than the somewhat cramped playing area of St Conleth's Park.
Maybe when the revamp of Conleth's finally gets under way — don't ask when — those in authority might grab a couple of metres on either side of the pitch to extend the playing surface.
For now though it's Meath and just one game from booking a place at the top table of Division 1 football.
St Conleth's Park is the venue, on Sunday week with the winner promoted to Division 1.
Now, anyone for the last of the chocs!

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