Leinster MFC semi-final
By Robert Cribbin
Kildare and Wicklow must replay after they played out a pulsating draw in the Semi-Final of the Minor Football Championship.
It was a game that had everything from great scores and defending to controversy but neither deserved to lose and so they must go at it again in Aughrim with Meath having to wait an extra few days to see who they will play in the final.
Kildare looked like they had the game won numerous times but Wicklow kept coming back for more and in Eoin Darcy and Matthew Ming they had a very dangerous two pronged attack that contributed 2-11 between them.
Kildare’s Aaron Kennedy wasn’t outshone either as his two extra time goals looked to have won it but John Keogh saved the day for Wicklow with a late free.
Playing in front of a big visiting crowd from the Garden county, Wicklow began brightly and had the opening score with Matthew Ging converting an opening minute free.
Wicklow had chances to extend that lead but Kildare dealt with the pressure and gradually began to take control around the middle of the field.
Naas’s Alex Beirne equalised from range in the 8th minute after getting onto a pass from Paddy McDermott as he ran out from defence.
Jack Smyth then put Padraig Carberry’s side into the lead for the first time but it could and probably should have been a goal as he was in on goal after good build up play by Muiris Curtin and Aaron Kennedy but his shot was tipped over the bar by Ben Fennell in the Wicklow goal.
Fennell was busy again a few minutes later as this time it was Beirne who had the chance but again the keeper stood tall.
Kildare did eventually kick ahead on the scoreboard that their overall game deserved where efforts from play by Smyth, Beirne and Kennedy had them in a 0-5 to 0-1 lead.
Muiris Curtin with a free extended the lead to five before Wicklow got their first score in twenty two minutes as Matthew Ging beat his man and kicked an excellent left footed point near the sideline.
Kennedy and Sam Morrissey both scored in response to push Kildare 0-8 to 0-2 ahead.
Kildare should have had at least one goal at that stage but after squandering a number of chances Wicklow made them pay when Eoin Darcy scored a brilliant goal in the 26th minute.
The goal was followed up by a Ging free as Wicklow got back within two points approaching the break.
Kildare hit Wicklow with a real sucker punch in stoppage time as Jack Smyth got an overdue goal after he worked his way in on the endline to score and give Kildare a 1-8 to 1-3 lead.
Kildare looked to be in the driving seat as the second half got underway but it was Wicklow who dominated the start of the second half as they scored 1-3 without reply.
Frees from Ging and John Keogh had got Wicklow back to within two points and they took the lead in the 37th minute when they were awarded a penalty for a ball picked up off the ground and Eoin Darcy converted the penalty.
During that time Kildare also suffered the blow of Jack Smyth who had scored 1-2 at the time getting a black card for an off the ball incident.
Kildare did get back on level terms with a fine Sam Morrissey point but after Muiris Curtin missed a fairly routine free, Wicklow kicked on again with points from Sean Doody and a fine 45 by Eoin Darcy.
Kildare dug extremely deep though and found it from within to edge their noses in front again going down the stretch with two Curtin frees added to by a fisted McGovern score.
Another brilliant Darcy free with two minutes remaining got Wicklow back to parity and if it wasn’t for John Ball saving brilliantly from point blank range, they could have snatched it.
Both sides had late chances but were off target and the game as a result went to extra time.
The drama continued apace in the extra twenty minutes as after Darcy had given Wicklow the lead with a long range free Kildare hit back with Aaron Kennedy scoring a brilliant individual goal after Sam Morrissey scored a free.
That gave Kildare a three point lead but it could easily have been wiped out as Ball produced another brilliant save to deny Darcy and leave Kildare with a three point advantage at the break.
It was a lead they looked set to hold onto as even though points from Ming and Darcy got Wicklow back to within a point, another Kennedy goal pushed Kildare 3-13 to 2-12 ahead.
Wicklow though were brilliant on the day and they deservedly snatched a draw as a point attempt from Eoghan Byrne somehow evaded the Kildare defence and into the net and then with practically last kick of the game John Keogh knocked over a free to ensure they must do it all again.
John Ball; John Lynch, Sean Hill, Jack Hamill; Nick Jackman, Kevin Kelliher, Paddy McDermott; Liam Broderick, Marcus Kiely; Sam Morrissey 0-3 (0-1f), Alex Beirne 0-2, Michael McGovern 0-1; Muiris Curtin 0-3 (0-3fs), Aaron Kennedy 2-2, Jack Smyth 1-2.
Subs used: Eoghan O’Haire for Smyth (Black Card) 37 mins, Drew Costello for Jackman 51 mins, Daniel Caulfield for Broderick 57 mins, Sean Englishby for Curtin 60 mins, Davy Higgins for McGovern 68 mins, Liam Broderick for Kiely 75 mins.
Ben Fennell; Fionn O’Carroll, Samuel Kennedy, Tom Moran, Kevin Quinn, Oisin Cullen, Christopher Grimes, Eoghan Byrne 1-0, Sean Doody 0-1, Alan Barrett, Craig Maguire, John Keogh 0-2 (0-2fs), Matthew Ging 0-7 (0-6fs), Eoin Darcy 2-4 ( 0-2 45, 0-2fs), Andy Foley.
Subs used: Cillian McDonald for Cullen 35 mins, Shaun Cranley for Maguire 39 mins, Jack Fleming for Barrett 59 mins, Oisin Cullen for O’Carroll 75 mins.
Ref; Chris Dwyer (Offaly)
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