Christy Ring Cup quarter-final
Kildare's season continued on an upward curve in St Conleth's Park this afternoon as they produced a solid performance to register a pretty comfortable win over London in the quarter-final of the Christy Ring Cup. They were never fully clear of the Exiles, who managed to keep in touch throughout, but once they opened up a three point lead at the beginning of the second half they never really looked troubled.
A nervy opening period saw both sides hitting a number of wides each, Kildare being the more guilty culprits out of the two, and it was still scoreless with 12 minutes played.
Both sides were fairly wasteful in possession in those opening exchanges, but London's Mark O'Dwyer eventually troubled the umpires when he stroked over a point from close range. Kevin O'Loughlin pointed two frees to put the Exiles three clear, and at that stage there was an air of worry surrounding Kildare.
When the Lilywhites eventually did get on the scoreboard they made it count though, scoring a goal that was beautifully simplistic in the way it arrived. Paul Dermody found Sean Gainey with a short poc-out, and the Naas man delivered a long ball into his clubmate Philip Cocoman, who batted the ball down to Mark Delaney and the wing-forward made no mistake as he raced through on goal before finding the back of the net.
Gerry Keegan, who starred in the games against Antrim and Wicklow, was on form again as he frequently found pockets of space before picking off nice scores. He did so twice in quick succession as a brace of scores from the Celbridge man helped Kildare into the lead, while Cocoman also scored a fabulous point from the left touchline after robbing possession of London corner-back Conor Hickey.
Kevin O'Loughlin was accurate from placed balls at the other end however, and it was his four points in the first half that really helped to keep London in touch of the home side when they didn't really seem to be in the game.
Delaney struck the best score of the game after 22 minutes when he found a small bit of space on the right sideline before angling over a beautiful point from 60 yards out.
London were able to bring in Shane O'Donnell(not the Clare one) midway through the first half, and he tapped over two scores either side of a Martin Duggan point to leave the scoreboard reading 1-6 to 0-8 after 30 minutes of action. Another free from O'Loughlin was cancelled out by a fine score from Johnny Byrne that saw Kildare into the break with a one point lead.
The second half saw Kildare up their shooting accuracy considerably, though there were still plenty of wides hit that really should have been scores.
Gerry Keegan was almost immaculate in his free-taking duties, while he also offered up plenty of inspiration in open play too. The Celbridge star swapped scores early in the half with O'Loughlin at the other end, while Mark O'Dwyer's second point of the game levelled matters momentarily.
Kildare upped the ante however, and three scores in a row helped them assume control of the game. Two came from Keegan frees, while Byrne notched his second point of the game following a brilliant catch, before turning and slotting over from a tight angle. O'Donnell replied with his third point of the game, but further scores from Martin Fitzgerald and Keegan helped to stretch the lead for the hosts.
Jack Sheridan made a telling impact from the bench in the closing stages as he darted over a couple of close range scores, adding to points from Keegan who found the target from open play and a free before the end. London seemed to run out of legs going into the final stretch, managing only two further scores from Conor Hickey and O'Loughlin.
They had two attempts on goal late on from close range frees, but they were ultimately futile as Kildare held firm to see out the game and secure a semi-final spot for the fourth year in succession.
Scorers for Kildare: G Keegan 0-9(4f), M Delaney 1-1, J Byrne, P Cocoman and J Sheridan 0-2 each, M Fitzgerald 0-1.
Scorers for London: K O'Loughlin 0-7(6f), S O'Donnell and M O'Dwyer 0-3 each, C Hickey and M Duggan 0-1 each.
P Dermody; R Bergin, J Doran, C Gordon; S Gainey(L Quinn 46mins), M Moloney, M Grace; M Fitzgerald, N O'Muineachain; G Keegan, P Divilly, R Casey(B Byrne h/t); M Delaney(D Flaherty 66 mins), P Cocoman(J Sheridan 60mins), J Byrne.
E Kelly; C Hickey, L Guale, C McAlindan; G Mahon, B Regan, O Gately(F Collins 14mins); T Healy(N McDonnell 61mins); D Gruen(P Phelan 57 mins); M O'Dwyer, K Reid(M Murphy 49 mins), T Lawrence; D Roberts(S O'Donnell 14 mins), M Duggan, K O'Loughlin.
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