Kildare put the misery of throwing away an 11 point lead last time out against to pick up their first win of the season in Armagh last Sunday. It was just the tonic needed for new manager Mick O’Riordan who had been without a win in his opening three games as Kildare boss.
Disappointing defeats to Wicklow and Derry were put out of Kildare minds as they led from start to finish but despite the win, results elsewhere mean that a promotion challenge is unlikely and now the target for Kildare must to be ready for the Christy Ring Cup opener against Kerry in April.
It was a strange day in the Kildare forwards. Martin Fitzgerald enjoyed a difficult day from frees in front of goal and missed a succession of placed balls but ironically enough, he scored a crucial goal in the 8th minute when a mishit long range free dipped under Simon Doherty’s bar and into the net.
Fitzgerald was then injured when scoring in the 30th minute and had to be replaced by Gavin Sunderland. In a twist of fate, the Moorefield man went on to score four points from four frees in the second half.
The early Kildare goal was sandwiched between points from Mark Moloney and Tony Murphy as O’Riordan’s men got into their stride early on, with 1-2 to no score on the board in the ninth minute.
Paul Breen scored seven points from frees during the game and he got his and Armagh’s first score of the game a minute later.
That was quickly followed by a point from well built full forward Ryan Gaffney but a long range effort from Mark Moloney kept Kildare in charge of the game.
Armagh played some of their best hurling between the 13th and 17th minute and were rewarded with three unanswered points. Kildare full forward David Harney broke that run of scoring but another Breen free left just a point between the teams after 26 minutes.
It wasn’t the best spectacle as both teams struggled with their ball control but Kildare always carried the greater threat going forward and points from Fiachra O’Muineacháin and Fitzgerald before the break gave Kildare a two point half time advantage, 1-6 to 0-7.
The enforced first half introduction of Sunderland was to prove crucial as the second half progressed. Breen got the scoring underway after the restart before the team’s shared four points over the next five minutes.
All that meant that Kildare were just a point ahead after 44 minutes and the whole tie was finely balanced. Under O’Riordan Kildare had been in similar positions against Derry and Wicklow and didn’t have the know how to grind out a win but this time out things were different.
Kildare scored five points in a row in the 11 minutes between the 45th and 56th minute, including three from Sunderland, as the Lilywhites sensed the chance of their first win of the season.
Breen finally broke that run of scores in the 59th minute but Kildare responded with an excellent score from the right flank by Kevin Walzer.
Fiachra O’Muineacháin scored is second point of the day seven minutes from time but a Ruairi McGrattan score five minutes from the end at least kept Armagh interested.
The result was put beyond any doubt though in the 70th minute when Harney made a high one handed catch and fired over the Armagh bar from just inside the ’45.
Kildare now have a home game against London this Sunday along with Kidlare footballers at St.Conleth’s Park., and while promotion does look out of reach, another win would at least completely banish any remaining thoughts of a second successive relegation.
Paul Dermody; Paul Keegan, David Kennedy, John Doran, Neil O’Muineacháin, Kieran Divilly, Eanna O’Neill; Fiachra O’Muineacháin 0-2, Leo Quinn; Tony Murphy 0-1, Mark Moloney 0-3, Colm Buggy, Martin Fitzgerald 1-1, David Harney 0-3, Kevin Walzer 0-2. Subs: Gavin Sunderland 0-4fs for Fitzgerald, 31; Kevin Chan for Buggy, 66.
Simon Doherty; Brian Mallon, Nathan Curry, Philip Kirk, Barry McCormack, Paul McCormack, Ciaran Clifford; Ger Enright, Michael Lennon 0-1; Martin Maguire, Ruairi McGrattan 0-1, John Corvan 0-1, Paul Breen 0-7fs, Ryan Gaffney 0-1, Martin Moen. Subs: Cathal Carvill 0-1 for Moen, h/t; Paul Gaffney for Mallon, 42; James King for Kirk, 51; Conor Corvan for McGrattan, 65; Declan Coulter for Maguire, 69.
Eamon Hasson (Derry).