THE journey continues. Another round of the qualifiers has been negociated thanks in no small part to Emmet Bolton’s 66th minute goal. For the second time in championship 2011 Kildare accounted for Meath, this time in their own back yard and this time the Lilies dumped the Royals out for good.
In a pulsating encounter Kieran McGeeney’s side were neck in neck with Meath heading in to the final ten minutes. Indeed only two points seperated the sides before wing back Bolton bounded forward and sent the ball to the net.
With only four minutes of normal time remaining the Royals were dead and buried and the Lilies marched on to a meeting with beaten Ulster finalist Derry this weekend.
Boss Kieran McGeeney had to plan without the services of Hughie Lynch, who suffered a knee injury in training in the run up to last Saturday’s game. In came Daryl Flynn and what a return the Moorefield man made. Flynn had been out of action since may due to an ankle injury but there was no sign of cobwebs, instead Flynn slotted right back in and gave a towering performance in the middle.
Management kept faith with the same full forward line that reaked havoc against Laois the previous week, while Bolton returned to the starting line up after missing the second round with a hamstring injury.
The Eadestown man was the Lilies’ star performer on the day and had it not been for his point and a goal in the final ten minutes perhaps Meath would have went on to face Derry on Saturday.
Mick Foley, was another star man. Indeed the Athy player is perhaps the Lilies’ most consistant performer all year and he certainly kept 2010 All Star nominee Graham Reilly quiet in Pairc Tailtenn last weekend.
Kildare fell behind early on when Meath leading scorer Cian Ward knocked over a free from 45 metres out but it was a shortlived lead. A ball in from Daryl Flynn picked out Tomas O’Connor, who rose with Meath full back Kevin Reilly and it was the latter who was adjuged to have fouled the Clane man and a penalty was awarded. For the second week on the trot Johnny Doyle was handed the responsibility of tucking away the penalty and that’s excatly what he did to give his side a 1-0 to 0-1 advantage. Parity was restored by the seventh minute when firstly Cian Ward struck over from the right and Meath’s third point came from captain Seamus Kenny to leave the score at 0-3 to 1-0.
The home side nudged in front on the ten minute mark when a long ball in from Joe Sheridan picked out Stephen Bray and the Navan O’Mahony’s man split the posts to give his side a one point lead.
The Lilies could have had a goal, one of numerous goal chances, in the 16th minute when Eamonn Callaghan was played through by Andrew McLoughlin but the Naas player elected to take his point and tie up this encounter once again.
Paudie O’Neill and Morgan O’Flaherty both raised flags to give Kildare a 1-3 to 0-4 advantage with only eight minutes of the opening half remaining but the deficit was reduced when, at the other end, Cian Ward converted a 45 metre kick.
Before the break Fionn Dowling pointed, as did substitute James Kavanagh, which was a beauty of a point, before Doyle converted a free to give the Lilies a 1-6 to 0-7 interval lead.
As always Kildare put in a sterling showing in the second period despite incessant pressure from the home side. McGeeney’s men drew first blood when Hugh McGrillen got forward to slot the ball over the bar from the right but it was cancelled out by a free at the other end from Cian Ward.
Indeed the Wolfe Tones’ man reduced the deficit to just one when he converted a 45 but a point from Doyle (free) left the score at 1-8 to 0-9 after 44 minutes.
By the 47th minute the sides were level thank to scores from Shane O’Rourke and Seamus Kenny as the atmosphere heightened at the Navan venue.
Another goal chance presented itself to the Lilies in the 51st minute when Eamonn Callaghan found Bolton but the Eadestown man took his point to give Kildare a slender lead once more but a converted free from Ward left the sides level again with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Bolton, whose marker Seamus Kenny had gone off due to a blood injury, again got forward to score Kildare’s tenth point of the evening and when Ronan Sweeney did likewise a minute later Kildare were up by two (1-11 to 0-12).
Then came the game’s most important score. Emmet Bolton palmed the ball passed the hapless Brendan Murphy in goal after assistance from Kavanagh and O’Connor and it gave Kildare a five point lead with only four minutes remaining.
Meath had time for two further points but they fell short and made their exit. McGeeney’s men, on the other hand, roll on to the fourth and final round of the qualifier.
Scorers: Kildare, Emmet Bolton 1-2, Johnny Doyle 1-2 (2f), Hugh McGrillen 0-1, Morgan O’Flaherty 0-1, Padraig O’Neill 0-1, Eamonn Callaghan 0-1, Fionn Dowling 0-1, James Kavanagh 0-1, Ronan Sweeney 0-1. Meath, Cian Ward 0-8 (5f 2 ‘45’), Stephen Bray 0-2, Seamus Kenny 0-2, Shane O’Rourke 0-1, Brian Farrell 0-1 (1f).
Shane Connolly; Andrew McLoughlin, Mick Foley, Hugh McGrillen; Gary White, Morgan O’Flaherty, Emmet Bolton; Johnny Doyle, Daryl Flynn; Padraig O’Neill, Eoghan O’Flaherty, Eamonn Callaghan; Rob Kelly, Tomas O’Connor, Fionn Dowling. Subs: James Kavanagh replaced R Kelly 23 mins, Brian Flanagan replaced G White HT, Conor Brophy replaced F Dowling 47 mins, Ronan Sweeney replaced E O’Flaherty 55 mins, Ollie Lyons replaced E Bolton 67 mins.
Brendan Murphy; Gary O’Brien, Kevin Reilly, Caoimhin King; Ciaran Lenehan, Shane McAnarney, Michael Burke; Shane O’Rourke, Brian Meade; Paddy Gilsenan, Joe Sheridan, Seamus Kenny; Stephen Bray, Graham Reilly, Cian Ward. Subs: Mark Ward replaced B Meade 23 mins, Brian Farrell replaced C Lenehan (inj) 29 mins, Jamie Queeney replaced G Reilly 45 mins, Anthony Moyles replaced J Queeney 62 mins.
Joe McQuillan (Cavan).