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Kill came into this game as relative underdogs as they faced a challenge against a Kilcullen team who eased to promotion in Division 4 of the Kildare Senior Football League, but Alan Wren's three first half goals ensured that Paraic Kelly's side left St Conleth's Park with a win under their belts and their Intermediate status secured for another year, with hopefully more to come in their eyes.
They were by far the better team throughout as they were more consistent in all areas of the game, and but for two different spells in which they amassed 1-9 of their total tally they could have been more comprehensively beaten than the four-point gap between the teams.
Stephen O'Leary got Kill off the mark early doors with a neatly struck free, but Ross Coughlan's fine point after cutting in off the wing drew Kilcullen level directly afterwards. Paul Jones nudged the 2016 Kildare Junior champions ahead for the first and only time of the first half soon after that, but successive points from wing-back Luke Purcell and Jamie Nolan regained the advantage for Kill, and they were hard-pressed to give that up for the remainder of the game.
Wren bagged the first of his three goals when he slammed home in the 13th minute after winning the kickout directly after Nolan's point, helping Kill into a 1-3 to 0-2 advantage with less than a quarter of the game played. Steven Skelton stretched the gap to five points by converting a free, and while Paul Jones did stem the flow momentarily with a point from a free, Wren stole in once again at the other end to smash home a fine effort from a tight angle to rattle the back of Alan Wright's net once again.
Facing a seven-point deficit it would have been easy for Kilcullen to drop the heads and say to themselves that it was not their day, but the Rags warmed to their task and soon made a real game of it. It took them all of 10 minutes to level matters as they kicked 1-4 without response to turn the game on its head. Jones got their purple patch started with a point, before scores from Luke Maloney and Darragh Timlon left just four points between the teams.
Timlon then turned provider as he set Ross Coughlan up to rattle the net at the Kilcullen End of the ground, and the gap between the teams was now at the minimum for the first time since early in the game. It was the hard-working Timlon who then slotted over the equaliser less than two minutes before the interval, but rather than going in level at the break they found themselves a goal down as Kill were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half-time, and a confident Wren duly placed it into the back of the net to ensure the men in green and yellow went into the dressing room with a 3-4 to 1-7 lead.
The expected Kilcullen fightback came during the second half, but Kill were superb in the way they closed the game out as they repelled the waves of attacks from their opponents and kept the scoreboard ticking over at the other end.
They began the second half in confident fashion as Stephen O'Leary fired over a point following a fine meandering run, while Skelton continued his accuracy from frees with another neat effort. Kilcullen enjoyed their best spell of the half in the period after that as they managed to pull the deficit back to just two points by the 48th minute as they scored three in a row, but that was the best they could string together throughout the half.
A fine solo run and point from Jamie Lambe got them up and running, but their challenge was effectively ended when substitute Jack Dooley was sent off after appearing to strike Stephen O'Leary during a coming together on the ground; the Kilcullen substitute had been on the field for less than three minutes at that stage. Still, the Rags continued on to land scores three Maloney and Jones, but they wilted after that as Kill began to take control again.
Jamie Nolan curled over an eye-catching score; Skelton slotted a free over and both Dara Challoner and Ronan Kelly raided up the field from deep to raise white flags that would put the game well beyond Kilcullen's reach.
For Jarlath Gilroy's men it's a battle now to retain their Intermediate status a year after winning the Junior Championship, while Kill will gain plenty of confidence from a healthy win as they progress to the third round.
Scorers for Kilcullen: P Jones 0-5(2f), R Coughlan 1-1, L Maloney(2f) and D Timlon 0-2 each and J Lambe 0-1.
Scorers for Kill: A Wren 3-0, S Skelton 0-3f, J Nolan and S O'Leary 0-2 each, D Challoner, R Kelly and L Purcell 0-1 each.
A Wright; D O'Flaherty, F Shortt, W Jones; S Ryan, D Barker(D Neal HT), R Toft(J Dooley 43mins); D Timlon, S Byrne; J Lambe(S Pembroke 58mins), B Bell, L Maloney; P Jones, G Lavin, R Coughlan.
K Downey; C McCarthy, K Corrigan, C O'Hagan; R Kelly, J Condon(R Connolly 53mins), L Purcell(C Devoy 58mins); J Healy, D Challoner; S O'Leary, A Gilger, S Skelton; A Wren, J Nolan, R Doyle(C Armstrong 40mins).
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