KILDARE crashed out of the Cadbury’s Leinster U21 Football Championship on Wednesday evening at Gracefield, going under by a single point to Offaly, writes TOMMY CALLAGHAN.
It is the second year in a row that The Lilies lost out by a single point, last year it was to Wexford, who went on to win the Leinster title.
Kildare, with four senior panellists in their squad, lined out without the services of Fionn Dowling (just back from injury) but who was introduced in the second half.
Kildare found it extremely difficult to break down a packed Offaly defence that had times had 12 and 13 players behind the ball but despite that trailed by just a point at the break due mainly to the scoring exploits of midfielder Kevin Feely who scored three points from open play.
Despite equalising immediately on the resumption Kildare continued to struggle and with Anton O’Sullivan, Stephen Hannon and Graham Guilfoyle causing Kildare problems once in possession the pattern of the opening half continued.
Kildare were reduced to 14 when Mickey Kelly received a second yellow cared on 40 minutes but despite that totally dominated the last quarter but failed to get the equalising point and force the game into extra time. Liam McGovern had the best chance of all with a free wide on the right after Cian Bolton had been fouled. However the Athy sharp shooter, normally a very reliable free taker pulled his shot just wide of the right hand post.
The game ended after some six minutes of injury time on a score line of Offaly 0-8 Kildare 0-7.