Rian Boran of Kildare wins possession of the sliotar ahead of Wicklow's Kieran Conway. Picture: Sean Brilly
Kildare’s 21 point victory over near neighbours Wicklow in Aughrim last Saturday, May 7, assured them of qualification for the Christy Ring Cup final on May 21, with a game to spare.
Kildare opened the brightest and when Cathal Dowling found Johnny Byrne inside 60 seconds Kildare were a goal to the good.
Cathal McCabe quickly added a point and after only three minutes there was only going to be one outcome.
Johnny Byrne added two quick points in the sixth and seventh minutes before Wicklow’s opened their account with an eighth minute free.
Directly from the resultant puck out, Jack Sheridan found himself in on goal but Brian Kearney came to the rescue with an excellent block that went out for a 65. James Burke added the first of his nine points.
James Burke keeps his balance as he contests the breaking ball with Wicklow's Owen Young. Picture: Sean Brilly
Kildare were on top throughout the field and when Conan Boran found Brian Byrne, the captain raced through the Wicklow defence before finding Gerry Keegan who shot low past Rob Fitzgerald in the Wicklow goal.
Seanie Germaine got his second pointed free in the 13th minute after Ciaran Conway was fouled.
Kildare then hit six in a row between the 14th and 22nd minutes through James Burke with three, Johnny Byrne with two, and Paul Divilly, as they raced into a 2-10 to 0-2 lead.
As has often happened in past games, Kildare fell asleep. After Paddy McKenna made an excellent save from Germaine it was a warning sign, and the goal arrived when John Henderson rose highest to grab and shoot to the Kildare net.
Three quick points followed from Henderson, and two from Martin O Byrne, and Wicklow had the gap back to eight.
Kildare finished the half with points from Conan Boran, after excellent work from Cathal Dowling and James Burke after Simon Leacy found him with a 60 metre pass to lead 2-12 to 1-5 after 35 minutes.
Kildare captain Brian Byrne holds off the challenge of Wicklow's Seanie Germaine. Picture: Sean Brilly
More worrying for Kildare was the loss of Simon Leacy and Rian Boran at the break to head and leg injuries respectively.
The second half started with Kildare in total control, and by the 44th minute they had moved 4-16 to 1-6 ahead, with four quick points from Gerry Keegan with two, Paul Divilly and Paul Dolan.
Brian Byrne had a chance of a goal on 43 but was denied by Rob Fitzgerald, but when the ball came back to him he made no mistake with the second opportunity.
Directly from the puckout, Kildare attacked again and this time James Burke was on the end of Cathal Dowling’s to crash to the net.
Wicklow added two points from John Doyle, and a Brandon Ryan free during Kildare’s dominance, but almost immediately Byrne and Burke added points again and by the 54th minute Kildare were 20 ahead.
Wicklow never gave up, and were rewarded with two quick goals within 60 seconds.
Kildare Conan Boran clears the defence with his strike. Picture: Sean Brilly
Firstly Eoin Kavanagh found himself inside the Kildare defence and he made no mistake from 20 metres.
From the puckout, Martin O’Brien put Seanie Germaine through on goal, but this time Paddy McKenna made a great save. As the ball broke away McKenna was adjudged to have dragged Ciaran Conway to the ground and Kevin Brady pointed to the penalty spot.
Paddy McKenna got the black card and it was sub keeper Sean Bean who was entrusted to face up to Germaine’s penalty.
He made a brilliant save to mark his debut but the referee said he moved too early and Germaine made no mistake with the second attempt.
Martin O’Brien and Brandon Ryan pointed either side of Shane Ryan’s effort and with six minutes remaining the hard working Cathal Dowling was rewarded with Kildare’s sixth goal.
Kildare closed out the game with six points,three from James Burke, Shane Ryan, Drew Costello and the returning Paddy McKenna, who was now operating at corner forward.
It was an effortless victory for Kildare, but the concession of three goals will be of concern to David Herrity and his management.
Next week Sligo are the visitors for Round 5 and with a place in the final already guaranteed there might be chances for some fringe players to put their hand up.
More importantly, this week will be the recovery of a few of the injured players before May 21.
Paddy McKenna 0-1, Neil O Muineachain,Simon Leacy, Cathal Dervan, Sean Christansen, Rian Boran, Conan Boran 0-1, Cathal McCabe 0-1, Paul Divilly 0-2, Brian Byrne 1-1, James Burke 1-9 (7 frees 1’65), Jack Sheridan, Gerry Keegan 1-2, Johnny Byrne 1-4, Cathal Dowling 1-0. Subs: Richie Hogan for Simon Leacy H/T, B/S, Paul Dolan 0-1 for Rian Boran H/T, Drew Costello 0-1 for Conan Boran 37, Shane Ryan 0-2 for Jack Sheridan 44, Conor Kielty for Gerry Keegan 53, Sean Bean for Paul Divilly 59.
Robert Fitzgerald, Dylan Byrne, Brian Kearney, Tommy Collins, John Young, Martin O’Brien 0-3, Brandon Ryan 0-3 (1 free, 1 ‘65), Mark Murphy, Ciaran Harmon, John Henderson 1-1, John Doyle 0-1, Eoin Young, Eoin Kavanagh 1-0, Seanie Germaine 1-2 (2 frees), Ciaran Conway. Subs: Aaron Byrne for Eoin Young 46, James Byrne for Mark Byrne 46, Michael Mangan for John Young 50, Jacques McCall for John Doyle 67.
Kevin Brady (Louth)
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