Kildare Intermediate Football Championship round one
By Robert Cribbin
A barnstorming performance from full forward Sean Byrne enabled 14 man Kilcullen to power to a two point success over Straffan in the opening round of the Intermediate Championship in Newbridge on Sunday afternoon.
Byrne scored 1-3 with his 10th minute goal proving especially important in holding Straffan at bay in a tightly contested affair.
It is a game that Straffan will have regrets over though as they missed a penalty in the second half courtesty of James Devane and even though Kilcullen’s Graham Lavin was also sent off, David Murphy’s team were unable to take advantage.
The game was slow to get going with a lack of any atmosphere in a paltry attended St.Conleths Park not helping as both sides were sussing each other out.
The first point eventually arrived in the 8th minute with Rob Kelly scoring for Straffan with a beautifully curled right footed effort in space.
That opening score then sprung Jarlath Gilroy’s Kilcullen’s side into life as they found the net in the 10th minute when a long ball inside made its way into the hands of full forward Sean Byrne and after he got around the onrushing keeper Matthew Duggan he played the ball into an empty net.
Byrne followed up that goal with a lovely point turning infield during the next play and after Shane Pembroke converted a free from distance the Rags moved 1-2 to 0-1 ahead.
Straffan steadied the ship with a pair of Ed Neenan scores to bring the lead back to three points but it was Kilcullen who finished the better to lead at the break in a very poor half of football.
It was all frees from there with Pembroke kicking his third and fourth points either side of a Austin Allen effort as Kilcullen held a 1-4 to 0-4 advantage at half-time.
The second half immediately had a livelier feel to it with both sides finding the target early on with Kelly and Pembroke exchanging good scores from play.
Pembroke got another free for Kilcullen in the 33rd minute but they would then go through seventeen scoreless minutes with Straffan taking command during that period kicking five points in a row.
Kelly with a free and Andy O’Neill with an excellent point from play after a flowing counter attack brought Straffan back to within two before they won a penalty in the 41st minute when Ed Neenan was brought down in the square by Kilcullen centre back Graham Lavin in one of the easiest decisions referee Alan Archbold had all day.
If the penalty was not bad enough though Lavin was also given his marching orders after he got a black card for the incident as well as already being on a yellow card.
Kilcullen did get respite though as James Devane’s penalty was saved comfortably by Alan Wright in the Kilcullen goal.
Straffan and Devane didn’t let that affect them too much though as he kicked a nice point afterwards before Kelly and substitute Fionn Carr crept them into a 0-10 to 1-6 lead.
Carr had a couple of late goal chances but he was unable to find the target and Kilcullen made them pay with Byrne kicking a 45 to level things up while late efforts from Paul Bell and Byrne once more helped Kilcullen to a narrow 1-9 to 0-10 victory.
Kilcullen: Alan Wright; Brendan O’Donnell, Franny Shortt, Willie Jones, Ronan Toft, Graham Lavin, Howard Peackock, Sean Fitzgerald, Steven Ryan, Tim Carey, Jamie Lambe, Paul Bell 0-1, David Marshall, Sean Byrne 1-3 (0-1 45), Shane Pembroke 0-5 (0-4fs).
Straffan: Matthew Duggan; Alan Byrne, Niall Devane, Ronan Maguire, Sean Buggy, Andy O’Neill 0-1, Niall Gaynor, Brendan Ashe, Paul Donovan, James Devane 0-1, Rob Kelly 0-4 (0-2fs), Rory Byrne, Austin Allen 0-1 (0-1f), Francis Kelly, Ed Neenan 0-2. Subs: Fionn Carr 0-1 for F.Kelly 46 mins,
Ref: Alan Archbold
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