O'Byrne Cup round two
The talk before this game from the small band of Kildare supporters who travelled to Longford revolved around how many points the Lilywhites would need to beat the home side by to make the O’Byrne Cup semi-final. In truth, Cian O’Neill’s side never looked like reaching the 11-point winning margin that they needed as a second flat performance in five days laid the groundwork for a four-point defeat to Division 3 outfit Longford.
It is certainly a competition that means much more to Denis Connerton’s men as it represents a decent chance of winning silverware, but Kildare’s lack of competitive football again before they meet Dublin in the league opener is hardly a good thing at this stage of the year.
It was a big day for four players making their first appearances in a competitive game at senior level for Kildare, with Ailin McDermott, Ruádhan Ó’Giolláin, Eoghan Lawless and Jimmy Hyland all involved from the start as Cian O’Neill looked to examine some of the unknown quantities of his panel.
Despite the cancellation of a Kehoe Cup hurling game between Longford and St Patrick’s/DCU due to frost on the surface of Pearse Park, the Longford venue made for a beautiful setting as the sun sat tentatively above the sinking stand in the midlands.
After the dour performance against Louth on Wednesday night there was a certain degree of pressure on Kildare as the Division 1 opener against Dublin in Croke Park looms on January 27. The first 10 minutes of the game offered little improvement on the Louth performance as Longford owned possession and Kildare’s only two forays into the opposition half resulted in wides from Eamonn Callaghan and Kevin Feely(free). That allowed Longford to canter into an early two-point lead as veteran forward Sean McCormack floated over a beautiful hanging effort from 30 metres, and Dessie Reynolds doubled their lead by finishing off a fine team move.
Kildare eventually settled, but it took a powerful burst from Daniel Flynn to punch a hole in the Longford defence before clipping over a tidy score. Paul Cribbin levelled the tie just 40 seconds later when he broke down the right and swerved over a fabulous point from the right touchline. Robbie Smyth restored Longford’s lead soon after, but that was the last time that the home side would score until the same player hit the target 12 minutes later.
Kildare took over for a spell then, with Eoghan Lawless dinking over his first ever point at senior level for his county from a tight angle, before two frees in a row from Feely pushed Kildare into the lead. Feely then got the chance to nudge over another point from a close range free when Longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum was pulled up for not reaching the ’21 with a kickout, meaning Kildare were 0-6 to 0-3 ahead with 20 minutes played.
Longford replied with a score from Smyth, but some great work from Cian O’Donoghue set Paul Cribbin up to respond at the other end with a booming effort from distance. The hosts took over for a spell after that though, and an excellent point from the right wing off the boot of McCormack preceded two accurate efforts from frees from the same player as Longford drew level. Kildare then lost Jimmy Hyland to a hamstring injury and substitute Paddy Brophy to a black card – he caught Patrick Fox with a high challenge – but Feely’s fourth free of the half pushed them ahead. There was still time late in the half for Smyth to level the score, but a fine run and point from the reintroduced Flynn ensured Kildare entered the dressing rooms leading by 0-9 to 0-8 at the break.
Longford sent out a warning signal in the first minute of the second half when they came close to hitting the game’s first goal as McCormack’s shot for a point bounced back off the post and into the arms of Daniel Mimnagh, but his low shot was brilliant saved by Mark Donnellan. McCormack did restore parity through a point from a free, before Rian Brady’s close range scored edged them into the lead. Longford did eventually hit the net in the 43rd minute when Padraig McCormack’s long ball dropped over the head of Mikey Kelly and into the arms of Robbie Smyth, and despite Donnellan saving the forward’s initial effort, the Abbeylara man finished off the rebound. Sean McCormack raised his fifth white flag of the day soon after to push the Midlanders 1-11 to 0-9 ahead after 45 minutes of action.
Kildare needed a response badly, and the impact of some of the substitutes that were brought in helped them to get back into the game. Fionn Dowling pointed within a couple of minutes of his introduction, and he doubled his own personal tally shortly after when Chris Healy showed sublime skill to create an opening for the Suncroft man to get a shot away. Luke Flynn’s first involvement after he came on in the 51st minute was to finish off a move by splitting the posts from 30 metres out, and a long range score from Tommy Moolick drew Kildare to within one point of the hosts with 17 minutes left to play.
Kildare’s purple patch ended when Rian Brady impressively pointed from the left wing, and Kildare never really gained any momentum after that stage. Goals were a necessity if Kildare were to reach that 11-point winning margin, but the closest they came to grabbing one was when Daniel Flynn played a sumptuous low ball towards David Hyland, but his shot off the ground was blocked by Collum in the Longford goals.
Kildare’s challenge fell flat late on, and it was Longford who finished the stronger as the impressive Brady took his tally to four points with two late scores after coming on as a first half substitute.
Scorers for Kildare: K Feely 0-4f, P Cribbin, D Flynn and F Dowling 0-2 each, E Lawless, L Flynn and T Moolick 0-1 each.
Scorers for Longford: R Smyth 1-3(1f), S McCormack 0-6(4f), R Brady 0-4, D Reynolds 0-1.
Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, Mikey Kelly, Mark Hyland; Ailin McDermott, Eoin Doyle, Cian O'Donoghue; Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick; Ruádhan Ó'Goillaín, Daniel Flynn, Paul Cribbin; Jimmy Hyland, Eamonn Callaghan, Eoghan Lawless.
Subs used: Paddy Brophy for D Flynn 26mins, Johnny Byrne for E Doyle 30mins, Neill Flynn for J Hyland inj 33mins, Daniel Flynn for P Brophy BC 35mins, Keith Cribbin for C O'Donoghue, Pascal Connell for R Ó'Giollán, David Hyland for E Callaghan 45mins, Chris Healy for E Lawless 45mins, Fionn Dowling for A McDermott 45mins, Luke Flynn for P Cribbin 51mins, David Slattery for K Feely 51mins,
Paddy Collum; Patrick Fox, Padraig McCormack, Barry Gilleran; Michael Quinn, Barry McKeon, Peter Foy; Darren Gallagher, Conor Berry; Daniel Mimnagh, Andrew Farrell, Dessie Reynolds; Robbie Smyth, Sean McCormack, Daryl Carrigy.
Subs used: Rian Brady for D Carrigy 25mins, Cian Brady for R Smyth 47mins, Darren Quinn for P Foy 52mins, David McGivney for A Farrell 55mins, Shane Donoghue for B Gilleran 60mins, Cillian Lee for D Reynolds 63 minutes,
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