WHEN KILDARE AND Carlow meet again later in the season in the Minor ‘B’ All Ireland Championship, the Lilywhites could be forgiven for hoping that Marty Kavanagh will be anywhere but in St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge on July 11, writes John Ryan.
Last Saturday afternoon the Kildare management got a first hand view before the sides meet again in the summer of the St Mullins teenager, who left a lasting impression on this contest from start to finish.
For their part Kildare – in particular talisman Gerry Keegan – had hurled with real conviction and plenty of class for most of the opening period from which they carried a four point lead into half-time but despite retaining that four point cushion after five minutes of the second period, thereafter the wheels on the Kildare wagon came off at an alarming pace.
All that being said, it was Kildare – fielding a team that included nine survivors from last year’s campaign -
who got off to the best possible start when Evan Dempsey, a late replacement in the starting team for Maynooth’s Philip Murphy, swept home to the net from just outside the square inside a matter of seconds.
Encouragingly, as Carlow struggled to rise to the early pace, Kildare added three points through the brilliant Gerry Keegan (two frees) to lead by 1-3 to 0-1 after just eight minutes, but in a period where both sides enjoyed prosperous spells, the young men from Carlow clawed their way back into the contest, largely helped by their scorer-in-chief Kavanagh, who added to his first score of the game with his first from play after ten minutes, before he converted another placed ball moments later to leave Dempsey’s early goal between the sides.
Parity was then restored after 13 minutes and again it was that man Kavanagh who, from a ball down the line that wasn’t cut out by his immediate marker Declan Keane, cut inside before firing an unstoppable effort past ‘keeper, Shane Nolan that rattled the roof of the home net.
But as they would do on a couple of occasions thereafter in what was a thrilling opening half, Kildare hit back emphatically when, after Moran and Kavanagh exchanged points by the end of the first quarter, Dempsey found the net for the second time after 16 minutes with a fine ground stroke which flew across goalkeeper, Jack Barron and to the onion sack. An additional point from Keegan made it 2-5 to 1-4 after 19 minutes.
Still, while Kavanagh – who plundered all of Carlow’s first half tally and saw off Keane inside 16 minutes – did his best to keep his side in touch, in comparison to their visitors Kildare had that bit more about them in the attacking department, with points from Casey and Keegan increasing the Lilywhites’ lead to 2-7 to 1-5 after 24 minutes. By half-time, with Kavanagh adding three more points (one free) to his tally, Kildare’s lead was out to 2-9 to 1-8, with sub Stephen May and Casey raising further white flags for the hosts.
An insight of what was to come over the course of the second half was offered when both Ayrton Gleeson and Kavanagh (free) both pointed for Carlow inside the opening three minutes of the second period, which were answered to by two pointed frees from Keegan by the 35th minute.
That though was effectively as good as it would get for Keegan and Kildare, as Carlow’s defence slammed shut like a well-oiled teak door, while Kavanagh and those around him in hooped shirts began to sparkle in the late evening sun.
Thereafter, Carlow accounted for the next six scores – all points – by the 48th minute to move in front (1-16 to 2-11) for the first time, and while Kildare did restore parity with points from Keegan (free) and Dempsey by the 53rd minute, it was Carlow who continued to find enough space to get away their efforts on goal that bit easier entering the home straight, with three points from that man Kavanagh (one free, one ’65) wrapping up the win despite the 58th minute dismissal of team-mate, Andrew Beaton on a straight red card after he lashed out off the ball at Kildare’s Declan Flaherty.
Scorers: Carlow: Marty Kav-anagh 1-14 (0-8f; 0-1 ‘65), Ayrton Gleeson 0-2, Dion Wall 0-1, Conor Fenlon 0-1, Andrew Beaton 0-1.
Kildare: Gerry Keegan 0-8 (5f), Evan Dempsey 2-0, Ryan Casey 0-3, Peter Moran 0-1, Stephen May 0-1.
Shane Nolan (Maynooth); Sean O’Rourke (Clane), Shane O’Flynn (Celbridge), Daniel Boyle (Eire Og/CC); Ryan Doyle (Leixlip), Sean Christianseen (Clane), Declan Keane (Kilcock); Gary Savage (Confey), Kevin Murphy (Celbridge); Shane Ryan (Clane), Declan Flaherty (Coill Dubh), Gerry Keegan (Celbridge); Evan Dempsey (Eire Og/CC), Peter Moran (Naas), Ryan Casey (Coill Dubh). Subs: Stephen May (Confey) for Keane (16 mins); Niall Kenny (Celbridge) for May (46 mins); Philip Murphy (Maynooth) for Ryan (60+1 mins).
Jack Barron; Jamie Doran, James Cox, Michael Malone; Barry Nolan, Diarmuid Byrne, Michael O’Grady; Conor Fenlon, Dion Wall; James Doyle, Andrew Beaton, Marty Kavanagh; Michael Walsh, Ayrton Gleeson, Jamie Whelan. Subs: Jack Kavanagh for Whelan (40 mins).
Maurice Flynn (Kilkenny).