DERRY had a very satisfactory visit to Newbridge last Sunday. Firstly their hurlers secured a win over their Kildare counterparts and then their footballers collected maximum points to ensure their second victory in this year’s Allianz National Football League Division 2 campaign.
Kildare, who beat Antrim in Belfast two weeks previous, paid the price for missed chances and plenty of errors. They also missed the services of Rob Kelly and Mark Scanlon who were both ruled out with hamstring injuries. In came Mick Foley, who lined out at full back, and Keith Cribbin, who took his place in the half forward line. Eamonn Callaghan filled the centre back berth, while Johnstownbridge’s Brian Flanagan started at wing forward. Once again Padraig O’Neill and Hugh Lynch lined out in the middle and youngster Fionn Dowling lined out at corner forward.
This wasn’t the prettiest of encounters and like the game before it Kildare looked good during the early stages.
Derry had to wait 20 minutes for their opening score, that coming from a free, while their first from play didn’t come until ten minutes before the break. However, John Brennan’s side had a one point (0-7 to 0-6) advantage at the break and extended that by one by the time the long whistle was sounded to add to their opening day victory over Division 2 favourites Tyrone, who were beaten by Donegal on Saturday evening.
The defeat leave the Lilies in fourth place in the division with two points along with Leinster rivals Meath, while Derry and Laois are on top with maximum points after the opening two fixtures.
Derry came to St Conleth’s Park and were certainly more clinical than their opponents. The Oak Leafers moved the ball extremely well and deserved to come away with the two points. Kildare weren’t helped by poor kicking from their captain Johnny Doyle and then need for a left footed free taker was once again highlighted on Sunday last.
However, there were some positives to take from the game and one was the performance of Suncroft youngster Fionn Dowling, who has slotted in to the team like an old professional. Hugh McGrillen also had a decent afternoon and his forays forward caused a lot of problems for the Derry rearguard, while the two Lilies in the middle of the park also did well.
Indeed it was one of those men that opened the scoring. St Laurence’s Paudi O’Neill drew first blood when he split the posts four minutes in and Kildare’s lead was doubled two minutes later thanks to a converted free from Johnny Doyle after Dowling was fouled.
Kildare were lucky however, because they should have found themselves a goal in arrears during the opening seconds of this encounter but Declan Mullan, who was later called ashore, missed a gilt edge chance from ten yards out.
At the other end though Kildare went 0-3 to 0-0 to the good 13 minutes in thanks to another Johnny Doyle free, won once again by Dowling.
Derry opened their account 20 minutes in when stalwart Paddy Bradley raised a white flag from a free following a foul on Sean Leo McGoldrick but they soon found themselves trailing by three once more.
Fionn Dowling scored probably the point of the game in the 21st minute. The Suncroft man collected possession from Eoghan O’Flaherty before taking an ambition shot from the 13 metre line out on the left wing. His ambition paid off and Kildare lead 0-4 to 0-1.
With ten minutes of the half remaining the visitors had the deficit down to one thanks to points from the extremely impressive Conleth Gilligan and Sean Leo McGoldrick, which was their first from open play.
The Lilies though responded through Johnny Doyle, who finished off a fine solo run by raising a white flag but that was to be Kildare’s last until deep in to first half stoppage time.
Only a point separated the sides once again by the 28th minute when Bradley fired over after David Whyte was caught in possession, while Gilligan levelled proceedings soon after when he converted a 45 metre kick.
The Oak Leaf men hit the front for the first time with one minute of normal time remaining thanks to Gilligan and doubled that lead when NUI Maynooth’s Sigerson star Daniel Kielt split the posts.
There was time for one more score before the half time whistle was sounded and that came from Fionn Dowling from 40 metres out to leave Kildare trailing by one (0-7 to 0-6) at the interlude.
Soon after the re start parity was restored thanks to a free from Kildare’s captain and the same player nudge the home side in front soon after following a journey forward by Hugh McGrillen.
An silly error led to Derry’s eighth point of the afternoon. Brian Flanagan, now back in the defence, was awarded a free but he kicked it straight in to the arms of Sean Leo McGoldrick and he capitalised to leave the score at 0-8 to 0-8.
A minute later the side from the north hit the front again thanks to another free from Gilligan and that lead was doubled when the same player struck over, this time from play.
Johnny Doyle responded with a converted free that just sneaked over the bar to leave the score at 0-10 to 0-9 14 minutes in to the final half. The next two points went the way of the visitors though and in between Kildare were guilty of some dreadful wides.
By the 60th minute the visitors were leading 0-13 to 0-9 but it was soon to be a two point game when Doyle and Alan Smith both raised white flags.
Kildare came close to sneaking in to the lead in the final minute when Dowling had a chance to hit the onion bag but a superb last ditch challenge from defender Dermot McBride put paid to that and that’s how it ended. Derry, for the second time in this division, held on for a slender win.
Up next for the Lilies is another trip north, this time to Letterkenny to face Donegal and a win is very important if they are to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Scorers: Derry - Conleth Gilligan 0-6 (3f, 1 ‘45‘), Paddy Bradley 0-3 (2f), Sean Leo McGoldrick 0-2, James Kielt 0-1, Mark Lynch 0-1.
Kildare - Johnny Doyle 0-7 (4f), Fionn Dowling 0-2, Padraig O’Neill 0-1, Alan Smith 0-1.
Michael Conlon; Brian McCallion, Kevin McCloy, Dermot McBride; Michael Drumm, Barry McGoldrick, Gerard O’Kane; PJ McCloskey, Niall Holly; Declan Mullan, Sean Leo McGoldrick, Mark Lynch; Ciaran McGoldrick, Paddy Bradley, Conleth Gilligan. Subs: James Kielt replaced D Mullan 18 mins, Charlie Kielt replaced M Drumm 38 mins, Caolan O’Boyle replaced C McGoldrick 63 mins, Emmet McGuckian replaced M Lynch 64 mins, Joe O’Kane replaced K McCloy 68 mins.
Kildare: Shane Connolly; Hugh McGrillen, Mick Foley, Tommy O‘Neill; Emmet Bolton, Eamonn Callaghan, David Whyte; Hugh Lynch, Padraig O’Neill; Brian Flanagan, Eoghan O‘Flaherty, Keith Cribbin; Alan Smith, John Doyle, Fionn Dowling. Subs: Ronan Sweeney replaced D Whyte HT, Andrew McLoughlin replaced T O’Neill HT, James Kavanagh replaced E O’Flaherty 57 mins.
Referee: Syl Doyle