Allianz NFL Division 1
Mayo hammered the final nail into the coffin of Kildare’s Division 1 campaign as they produced a fine attacking display to easily account for the Lilywhites on Sunday. Barring an extremely unlikely set of results in the final two rounds of games, Kildare will be relegated and playing their football in Division 2 next spring.
It was perhaps the most disappointing performance from the Lilywhites in their season to date, as they performed relatively well for the first 25 minutes before being outscored 1-15 to 0-8 after Daniel Flynn’s 22nd minute goal.
It eased Mayo’s relegation fears at the same time, with last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists now moving on to four points and battling it out with Donegal for survival in the division.
The home side's defence was turned inside out by a vibrant Mayo attack time and again, with the visitors amassing 1-13 from play after having only averaged 12.5 points per game in their first four outings to date.
The conditions allowed for a free flowing game of football as the sun bet down on St Conleth’s Park, a world away from the snow sunk surface of the Newbridge venue just seven days previous.
It allowed Kildare to start in smart fashion, but their shooting in the opening 10 minutes was wayward, with Daniel Flynn, Kevin Feely and Cian O’Donoghue all squandering chances to get Kildare’s first score. That allowed Mayo to build up a three-point lead early on as Cillian O’Connor opened the scoring from a free, before Footballer of the Year, Andy Moran, beat Eoin Doyle to a ball on the left wing, sold a dummy to David Hyland and then delicately clipped it over from a tight angle. A massive free from goalkeeper Robbie Hennelly finished their scoring burst, before Kildare eventually responded with a point from a free through Feely.
That seemed to settle the nerves of Cian O’Neill’s men, and a quite brilliant flowing move that involved neat handpasses between Feely, Daniel Flynn and Niall Kelly was finished off with a tidy score from Kevin Flynn on his first league start for the county.
The home side almost hit the front when Daniel Flynn found space on the right wing and picked out Niall Kelly with a stunning Crossfield pass, but the Athy man’s shot was straight at Rob Hennelly who arried the ball comfortably.
Mayo hit back with a couple of scores as O’Connor nailed a free, before some lapse concentration on Kildare’s part allowed Mayo to break up the field when Aidan O’Shea won a throw-up on his own 21 metre line, and Diarmuid O’Connor finished the move with a point. Kildare enjoyed their best spell of the half after that as they surged into the lead by hitting 1-2 in two minutes, with a Feely free starting the purple patch. Paddy Brophy followed that up with a stunning point from the left wing to cut the gap to just one.
Daniel Flynn, who was given Ger Cafferkey all sorts of bother, found the net in the 22nd minute when he won a ball on the left of the square, meandered across the 13 metre line and then angled a low shot into the bottom corner of Hennelly’s net to put Kildare into a 1-4 to 0-5 lead.
Mayo responded with the composure of an experienced team however, and they scored 1-4 without response to turn the game on its head before half-time. Cillian O’Connor nailed two points in a row, the second of which was a monstrous effort from 50 metres, before Adam Gallagher levelled the game on 35 minutes.
From the resultant kickout Feely and Moolick jumped together, allowing Mayo to win the break and for Lee Keegan to surge up the wing. He played it into Moran, who fired it back to the Westport man, and as he ran down the end line he picked out Aidan O'Shea once again to palm to the net. Another good score from Diarmuid O’Connor left Kildare trailing by 1-9 to 1-4 at the break.
Wind assisted, Kildare settled into the second half with a pointed free from Feely, but Mayo were purring once again and looked dangerous every time they went forward. Gallagher slotted his second point before Moran turned Peter Kelly inside out and slotted over from range.
Stephen Rochford’s men could have finished the game off as a contest when Cillian O’Connor broke through on goal, but Mark Donnellan got down to his right to produce a good save.
Kildare threatened a comeback briefly as Conway scored a superb point from distance under pressure and Kelly knocked over a tidy effort from a tight angle, but Mayo upped the ante once again and their class told in the final 25 minutes.
Rob Hennelly kicked his second free of the day before Aidan O’Shea burst through to blaze over his solitary score of the day. Mark Donnellan was arguably Kildare’s best player on the day, and he kept the score down with a couple of fine saves on Seamus O’Shea and Jason Doherty in the third quarter.
Ben McCormack came off the bench to kick a good point for the hosts, but again the Westerners responded as Conor Loftus, Eoin O’Donoghue and Kevin McLoughlin all raised white flags.
The game’s intensity dropped drastically in the final 15 minutes as the result was pretty much beyond doubt, and save for some fine scores from Kevin Flynn, Feely and Fionn Dowling, there was little to shout about. Dowling actually made an exceptional goalline clearance after Donnellan had blocked a Lee Keegan shot late on, but the Lilywhites were never getting back into the game at that point.
Scorers for Kildare: K Feely 0-5(4f), D Flynn 1-0, K Flynn and N Kelly 0-2 each, B McCormack, F Dowling and F Conway 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: A O'Shea 1-1, C O’Connor 0-4(3f), A Moran 0-3, D O’Connor, A Gallagher, R Hennelly(2f) and C Loftus(1f) 0-2 each, K McLoughlin, J Doherty and E O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
Mark Donnellan; Eoin Doyle, David Hyland, Mick O'Grady; Peter Kelly, Keith Cribbin, Cian O’Donoghue; Tommy Moolick, Kevin Feely; Fergal Conway, Niall Kelly, Kevin Flynn; Paddy Brophy, Daniel Flynn, David Slattery.
Subs used: Ben McCormack for Slattery 45mins, Johnny Byrne for Cribbin 47mins, Paul Cribbin for Brophy 51mins, Fionn Dowling for Moolick 53mins, Chris Healy for Conway 55mins, Jimmy Hyland for K Flynn 59mins,
Rob Hennelly; Caolon Crowe, Get Cafferkey, Eoin O'Donoghue; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Stephen Coen; Tom Parsons, Aidan O'Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Adam Gallagher, Diarmuid O’Connor; Cillian O'Connor, Andy Moran, Jason Doherty.
Subs used: Seamus O’Shea for Parsons 47mins, Conor Loftus for Gallagher 51mins, Fergal Boland for Doherty 64mins, David Drake for D O’Connor 70mins, Barry Moran for C O’Connor 70mins.
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