Tuesday 19 February 2019

Kildare finally on roll

Kildare 1-16 Longford 1-13

White heat: Paddy Brophy of Kildare in action against Longford during the Football Qualifier at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park
White heat: Paddy Brophy of Kildare in action against Longford during the Football Qualifier at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park

The team that couldn't win a game for a year has now won two in a row.

Kildare footballers followed up their first round All-Ireland qualifier win over Derry with a hard-fought three-point victory over a game Longford in Pearse Park on Saturday night.

The outcome was in doubt until Chris Healy's Kildare goal two minutes into injury-time at the finish.

But it was a hard-fought battle for the Lilywhites, who could never shake off the home team.

Longford were ahead for most of the game, but never by a big enough margin to instill doubt in the visiting ranks.

They could not forge those three or four points clear that might have made all the difference.

Two chances for goals, from Liam Connerton and Donal McElligott, both cannoned off the cross might have sent a signal to the the Kildare lads that this would not be their day.

"Had they gone in, it might have been a very different evening," admitted Kildare boss Cian O'Neill afterwards.

"I'm proud of the way the team and supporters have pulled together since the Carlow defeat.

"But we've a lot of work to do for next week. We've got to start the recovery and take it from there. At least we will be playing a team who was out this week and will have the same recovery issues as us."

Yes, that will be hard for all teams, but there are areas Kildare really need to tidy up on and one is the centre of the defence.

Despite having the excellent Eoin Doyle at centre-back, the Lilies were vulnerable all evening to swift runs through the middle from Longford players coming from deep.

There are teams left in the qualifier draw who would make hay with the scoring chances Longford had. There are top-class forwards left in the qualifiers who won't be hitting crossbars with the chances Longford forged.

At least, Kevin Feely should be fit to start for the Lilies next Saturday and that will be a huge boost for Kildare as he showed what he brings to the party in a ten-minute cameo at the end.

"He worked so hard, with our medical team, to be able to play even those few minutes," said the Kildare boss.

"It's all about time with the sort of soft tissue injury he had, but we think he'll be fine for next Saturday."

For Longford their season is run. It wasn't a bad one, but a win here would have made it a very good one, with Meath and Kildare beaten in the same summer. For them it's back to the O'Byrne Cup in January - Kildare await their qualifying fate.

Scorers - Kildare: N Flynn 0-5, C Healy 1-0, P Brophy 0-2, T Moolick 0-2, P Cribben 0-1, D Flynn 0-1, D Hyland 0-1, K Feely 0-1, E Doyle 0-1 (f) A Conway 0-1. Longford: R Smyth 1-5, D Gallagher 0-2, D McGivney 0-1, S McCormack 0-1, L Connerton 0-1, C Berry 0-1, D McElligott 0-1, P Collum 0-1.

Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O'Grady; J Murray, E Doyle, K Flynn; P Brophy, T Moolick; F Conway, P Cribben, K Cribbin; N Flynn, D Flynn, N Kelly. Subs: E O'Connor for N Kelly (BC, 3) D Slattery for K Cribben (43), J Byrne for Murray (49), C Healy for Moolick (52), C McNally for O'Connor (57), K Feely for Conway (BC, 68).

Longford: P Collum; P Fox, P McCormack, D Masterson; M Quinn, D McElligott, D Mimnagh; D Gallagher, C Berry; D McGivney, D Reynolds, B McKeon; R Smyth, S McCormack, L Connerton. Subs: B Gilleran for McCormack (BC, 53), P Foy for Mimnagh (66), A Farrell for Berry (67).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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