ANOTHER victory and the return of Dermot Earley ensured a very good day for the Lilies and their supporters in Newbridge last Sunday. Kieran McGeeney’s men are now well in the hunt for promotion and lie fifth in the table but level on points with third and fourth placed Meath and Monaghan ahead of next Sunday’s meeting with fifth placed Louth in Drogheda.
This fourth round game will be remembered as the game that Kildare finally hit the net but more importantly will be remembered for the return of Dermot Earley.
The Sarsfields man, who has been out of action for 18 months with a cruciate knee injury, came on for Tomas O’Connor in the 68th minute and what a reception he got.
Supporters took to their feet to welcome back the midfield man, the roof was almost lifted off the stand such was the roar and Dermot didn’t disappoint.
Leading 2-12 to 2-8 Kildare trundled forward and with a golden opportunity to add a 13th point Johnny Doyle did a selfless thing.
The Allenwood man didn’t shoot, instead he offloaded to Earley and the ‘comeback kid’ duly delivered the point. The noise was almost deafening. The return was triumphant.
The other 69 minutes weren’t half bad either. Granted the Lilies conceded two sloppy goals, and were out played in the middle, but they notched up another victory and scored their first goal since Eamonn Callaghan hit the net in the O’Byrne Cup final against DCU in Portlaoise. Captain Johnny Doyle grabbed Kildare’s first goal from the penalty spot some 52 minutes in, while substitute Alan Smith added a second some twelve minutes later.
The second half certainly provided more entertainment than the first with goals a plenty and never say die attitude from both teams. The home side lead 0-8 to 0-6 at the interval and stretched that lead to seven when Doyle converted the aforementioned penalty.
A facile win appeared to be on the cards but Derry certainly didn’t lie down and a minute after the Lilies hit the onion bag Sean Leo McGoldrick did likewise to reduce the deficit to four once more.
In the 59th minute the Oak Leaf men cut the deficit again thanks to another goal to leave just the minimum in it.
It appeared that a grandstand finish was on the cards but McGeeney’s men dug deep, just as they did against Meath the previous Saturday in Navan, tagged on a further 1-1 to ensure a five point victory and another two points.
Boss Kieran McGeeney made one change to the team that beat Meath with Peter Kelly coming in for Andrew McLoughlin at corner back, while, of course Earley was named among the substitutes.
It was the visitors that opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Conleth Gilligan’s ball from the 45 metre line picked out Paddy Bradley and the former All Star struck over.
Kildare responded through Eoghan O’Flaherty, who teamed up well with his brother Morgan before delivering the point and two minutes later the Carbury man added a second to give the home side a slender advantage.
Two from Derry, courtesy of Bradley, turned it around and left them leading by one with ten played but three unanswered, from O’Neill and Kavanagh (two) gave Kildare a 0-5 to 0-3 lead in the 14th minutes.
In a fairly lack lustre half Derry came back with a brace from Gilligan but down the other end Eoghan O’Flaherty converted a free after Callaghan was impeded, Conway did likewise to leave the score at 0-7 to 0-5.
Before the interlude the sides swapped points, Morgan O’Flaherty for Kildare and Enda Lynn for the visitors to leave the score at 0-8 to 0-6 at the break.
The Oak Leafers reduced the deficit to just one soon after the turnaround thanks to a converted free from Ballinderry Shamrocks’ Conleth Gilligan but Johnny Doyle, who contributed handsomely to the scoreboard, cancelled it out with his 41st minute point.
When Hugh McGrillen was fouled Eoghan O’Flaherty stretched Kildare’s lead to three when he converted the resulting free out of his hands from the edge of the ‘D’, while it was soon a four point gap when Doyle raised a white flag.
Then came the game’s opening goal. Clane’s Tomas O’Connor, causing problems inside as ever, was pushed to the ground and Fermanagh referee Martin Higgins signalled for a penalty. Up stepped Doyle and he hit the ball low and past goalkeeper Barry Gillis in to the left hand corner of the net to leave the Lilies leading 1-11 to 0-7.
The Lilies seemed to be cruising but took their eye off the ball as Derry attacked and responded with a goal of their own. Sean Leo McGoldrick was the scorer and it left Derry trailing by four (1-11 to 1-7) once more. That deficit was reduced to three a few minutes later thanks to a Gilligan free but Johnny Doyle pushed it back out to four when he tagged on a point down the other end with twenty minutes left to play.
Derry came back with a bang though and hit the onion bag for a second time to leave just one in it with ten left to play. Daryl Flynn was caught on the hop and substitute Cailean O’Boyle capitalised and fired passed Connolly to leave the score at 1-12 to 2-8.
Just like they did again Meath, Kildare didn’t panic and got their just rewards five minutes later. Morgan O’Flaherty began the move, passed to Eamonn Callaghan and he played a one/two with O’Connor before the latter off loaded to Smith and the Sarsfields’ man made no mistake from close range leaving the Lilies leading by four (2-12 to 2-8).
With the four point cushion it was time for the introduction of Earley and the icing on the cake was his 70th minute point to finish off a good day at the office for McGeeney’s men.
Kildare – Johnny Doyle 1-3 (1 pen), Eoghan O’Flaherty 0-4 (2f), Alan Smith 1-0, James Kavanagh 0-2, Paudie O’Neill 0-1, Mikey Conway 0-1 (1f), Morgan O’Flaherty 0-1, Dermot Earley 0-1.
Derry – Paddy Bradley 0-3 (1f), Conleth Gilligan 0-4 (3f), Sean Leo McGoldrick 1-0, Cailean O’Boyle 1-0, Enda Lynn 0-1.
Shane Connolly; Peter Kelly, Hugh McGrillen, Ollie Lyons; Emmet Bolton, Morgan O’Flaherty, Michael Foley; Daryl Flynn, Johnny Doyle; James Kavanagh, Mikey Conway, Padraig O’Neill; Eamonn Callaghan, Tomas O’Connor, Eoghan O’Flaherty. Subs: Alan Smith replaced M Conway 54 mins, Ronan Sweeney replaced D Flynn 64 mins, Dermot Earley replaced T O’Connor 68 mins, Karl Ennis replaced E Callaghan 70 mins.
Barry Gillis; Brian McCallion, Chrissy McKaigue, Aidan McAlynn; Mark Craig, Charlie Kielt, Sean Leo McGoldrick; Michael Friel, PJ McCloskey; Neill Forrester, Blaine Gormley, Barry McGoldrick; Conleth Gilligan, Paddy Bradley, Enda Lynn. Subs: Cailean O’Boyle replaced N Forrester 42 mins, Patsy Bradley replaced B Gormley 48 mins, Emmett McGuckain replaced E Lynn 59 mins, Eugene Scullion replaced C Kielt 68 mins.
Martin Higgins (Fermanagh).