KIERAN McGeeney and his Kildare side all but booked their place in the semi final of the Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup, with a game in hand, when they defeated DIT in Geraldine Park, Athy, on Wednesday evening last, writes TOMMY CALLAGHAN.
In a game that was in danger of being called off ten minutes from the official throw-in due to fog, which thankfully lifted, and on a pitch practically white with frost, nevertheless the sizeable attendance was treated to an enjoyable game of football throughout.
Kildare lined out with Peter Kelly at wing back and Daniel Flynn making his senior debut at corner forward, dominated the opening half, but never looked like putting the opposition away and in the end had to call on Johnny Doyle and to a lesser extent, Eoghan O’Flaherty to ensure victory.
Mikey Conway, again wearing the no. 6 shirt and the impressive Mark Collins (Cork) exchanged four points in the opening ten minutes before the home side added four on the trot through Pádraig O’Neill, Daniel Flynn, Mikey Conway and Cathal McNally. McNally impressed again in the opening half and it will be interesting to see how he progresses.
Bernard Allen kept DIT in touch before Kildare opened a six point margin with points from Emmet Bolton, Tomás O’Connor and McNally but the students replied with two late point to leave the half time score Kildare 0-9 DIT 0-5.
A decent display in that opening half with Mick Foley, Mikey Conway, Peter Kelly; midfielders White and O’Neill and Cathal McNally all catching the eye.
On the resumption it was DIT who dominated with Mayo county man Aidan O’Shea taking over in the middle. Johnny McGrath reduced the deficit and but for some wayward shooting the students could have been level with the home side looking somewhat vulnerable.
Johnny Doyle was introduced for his first game of the season and looked very lively but Kildare suffered a blow when Gary White got a second yellow card on 50 minutes.
Doyle, however, converted a free to ease the pressure and when Peter Kelly and another Doyle free put six between them it effectively ended the game.
DIT did hit two late points as the fog re-emerged and while Mark Collins picked up a second yellow just before full time, the final whistle duly arrived with Kildare booking their semi final spot, even before they met Wexford on Sunday last, on a score line of 0-12 to 0-8.
A decent game played in far from ideal conditions but nevertheless certainly some positives for the journey ahead. The introduction of Johnny Doyle and Hugh Lynch in particular but good performances from Michael Konstantin, Daniel Flynn and another decent game from Cathal McNally can all be looked on as bonuses.
Well done to Athy GAA who had everything well organised on the night and to Kildare Co. Board, in conjunction with the Leinster Council who waved the admission charge when it was feared the game would not get under way. Leinster have promised to make a donation to the Players Injury Fund to compensate for the loss.
Kildare, Mikey Conway 0-3 (2 frees), Cathal McNally 0-2, Johnny Doyle 0-2 (2 frees), Pádraig O’Neill 0-1, Tomás O’Connor 0-1, Daniel Flynn 0-1, Peter Kelly 0-1, Emmet Bolton 0-1.
DIT, Mark Collins 0-3 (2 frees), Johnny McGrath 0-2, Ross Sheridan 0-1, Bernard Allen 0-1, Ross Hazley 0-1.
Shane Connolly; Ollie Lyons, Michael Foley, Hugh McGrillen; Emmet Bolton, Mikey Conway, Peter Kelly; Gary White, Pádraig O’Neill; Brian Flanagan, Cathal McNally, Morgan O’Flaherty; Robert Kelly, Tomás O’Connor, Daniel Flynn. Subs: Michael Konstantin for Ollie Lyons (27 minute); Johnny Doyle for Cathal McNally (45 minute); Pádraig Fogarty for Daniel Flynn (49 minute); Eoghan O’Flaherty for Brian Flanagan (53 minute); Hugh Lynch for Robert Kelly (61 minute).
Robert Lambert; Kevin O’Brien, Bryan Menton, Gary O’Hare; Alan Nestor, Sean George, Ross Sheridan; Aidan O’Shea, Jason Doherty; Johnny McGrath, Mark Collins, Ciarán Reddin; Paul Maguire, Conor Walsh, Bernard Allen. Subs: Darren Reilly for Alan Nestor (36 minute); Harry Dawson for Conor Walsh (49 minute); Shane O’Connor for Johnny McGrath (59 minute).
John Hickey, Carlow.