IT doesn’t matter when and how it comes; a win over neighbours and bitter rivals Laois is always sweet. That’s exactly what Kildare did last Sunday in Newbridge. They got the better of the visiting O’Moore men and picked up their second victory of this year’s Allianz National Football League Division 2 campaign.
Laois came to town as the table toppers with a 100 per cent record after three rounds but come the long whistle that record was gone and Kildare had the bragging rights on this occasion.
This was a much better performance from Kildare than the one in round three in Letterkenny. In fairness that wasn’t a difficult task such was Kildare’s dismal display against Donegal.
The win leaves the Lilies with five points after four games with two wins, one draw and a single defeat. McGeeney’s men lie in fourth position just a point behind Laois, Derry and Donegal and two ahead of this Sunday’s opponents Meath and Antrim.
The Lilies welcomed back Daryl Flynn from suspension for last Sunday’s derby encounter and the Moorefield man lined out of full forward. He was however moved out to the more familiar middle of the park after twenty minutes in order to curtail the dominant Padraig Clancy.
Kildare were without the services of the influential pair of Eamonn Callaghan and Johnny Doyle. The latter was ruled out through illness, while Callaghan failed a late fitness test due to a foot injury; David Whyte also missed out through a back injury.
In to the team came Gary White, who put in a sterling showing and Ollie Lyons. The Celbridge man had the unenviable task of keeping tabs on Laois live wire Ross Munnelly and ultimately Lyons failed. Munnelly ran riot throughout and scored five points from play to boot.
Alan Smith dropped down to the substitutes bench and was replaced by Flynn, while Rob Kelly also took a place in the full forward line.
A win was vital for the Lilies if they were to keep their promotion hopes alive. That’s exactly what they did and manager Kieran McGeeney was very pleased his side came out on the right side of a tight score line.
While better than the Donegal performance, there is definitely room to improve but considering the loss of the aforementioned pair of Callaghan and Doyle, this was a most satisfactory showing from the Lilies, who finished strongly and hit the last three points without a response from their opponents.
With just 14 seconds on the clock last Sunday Kildare were off the mark. Straffan’s Rob Kelly split the posts to give his side an early lead; a lead that was quickly wiped out by the visitors.
Laois’ opening score came in the third minute courtesy of a Colm Begley goal. Ross Munnelly provided possession for Begley, who skipped through the Kildare defence, before firing past the returning Shane Connelly in goal. Kildare, and in particular Brian Flanagan, will be disappointed with the concession of such a goal but just two minutes later they managed to restore parity.
A point from Chalky Whyte left the minimum in it on four minutes and Daryl Flynn popped over the leveller to ensure a blistering start to this round four encounter.
By the tenth minute the visitors were back in front when John O’Loughlin’s quick free kick located Munnelly and he raised a white flag.
Laois doubled their advantage on ten minutes when O’Loughlin and Munnelly combined again with the latter kicking over the bar to leave the score at 1-2 to 0-3.
Laois assumed the ascendancy and hit the next three points in succession. The first of those three came from the boot of MJ Tierney after 13 minutes, while he also struck over a free kick following a foul on Timahoe man Padraig Clancy. Ross Munnelly made it 1-5 to 0-3 on 18 minutes when he powered his way past Lyons before striking over Shane Connolly’s cross bar.
The Lilies grabbed their first score in almost twenty minute when Ronan Sweeney converted a free out of his hands from close range after he himself was fouled by centre back Shane Julian.
The Moorefield man added to his personal tally two minutes later when he sent over another free to leave the score at 1-5 to 0-5.
That deficit was soon down to two when Emmet Bolton got in on the scoring act and indeed down to one when Sweeney grabbed a point from play on 30 minutes.
By the time the interval arrived though Laois led 1-8 to 0-7 when Darren Strong, O’Loughlin and Tierney all raised white flags.
Kildare started the second and final half well when Daryl Flynn added his second point of the afternoon but it was soon cancelled out by a superb effort from Tierney. Ross Munnelly was impeded out on the left and Tierney sent over the free from a very difficult angle to ensure a 1-8 to 0-8 lead for the visitors.
Just eight minutes in to the second half though Kildare levelled proceedings with a goal.
James Kavanagh found himself one on one with Nolan in the goal and it was the goalkeeper that came out the better. Portlaoise club man pulled off a super save from Kavanagh’s shot but the loose ball ricochet off the unfortunate Denis Booth and in to the net to leave the score at 1-8 to 1-8.
Seconds later Keith Cribbin struck over to give Kildare the lead for the first time since the opening minute. However, two from Munnelly restore Laois’ lead with 15 minutes of the half played.
A grand stand finish was on the cards as the atmosphere heightened in St Conleth’s Park and a Ronan Sweeney free left the sides level (1-10 to 1-10) once more after 57 minutes.
Soon after Laois edged in to a slender lead when Strong got forward again and split the posts in what transpired to be Laois’ final point of the afternoon.
Kildare were far from finished though. Rob Kelly added his side’s 11th point before a winning brace from Carbury’s Eoghan O’Flaherty.
The former Under 21 star magnificently converted a free from a difficult angle out on the right to give Kildare a one point advantage and two minutes later he did similar. On this occasion O’Flaherty raised a white flag from a free 55 metres out to seal the win and the two points for McGeeney’s side.
Next up are Meath, who come to Newbridge this Sunday in desperate need of some points.
Scorers: Kildare , Ronan Sweeney 0-4 (3f), James Kavanagh 1-0, Rob Kelly 0-2, Eoghan O’Flaherty 0-2 (2f), Gary White 0-1, Daryl Flynn 0-2, Emmet Bolton 0-1, Keith Cribbin 0-1.
Laois, Ross Munnelly 0-5, Colm Begley 1-0, MJ Tierney 0-3 (2f), Darren Strong 0-2, John O’Loughlin 0-1.
Shane Connolly; Hugh McGrillen, Mick Foley, Ollie Lyons; Gary Whyte, Brian Flanagan, Emmet Bolton; Hugh Lynch, Padraig O’Neill; Ronan Sweeney, Eoghan O’Flaherty, Fionn Dowling; Keith Cribbin, Rob Kelly, Daryl Flynn. Subs: James Kavanagh replaced H Lynch 25 mins, Alan Smith replaced F Dowling 58 mins, Morgan O’Flaherty replaced E Bolton 60 mins.
Laois: Michael Nolan; Robert Kehoe, Kevin Meaney, Denis Booth; Darren Strong, Shane Julian, Cahir Healy; Padraig Clancy, Colm Begley; John O’Loughlin, Daithi Carroll, Niall Donoher; Ross Munnelly, Billy Sheehan, Michael John Tierney. Subs: Gary Kavanagh replaced D Carroll 34 mins, Peter O’Leary replaced C Healy 50 mins, Mark Timmons replaced B Sheehan 67 mins.
Joe McQuillan (Cavan).