Doyle leads by example for Lilywhites
Kildare captain, Johnny Doyle, kicked five points in succession to snatch a crucial victory from basement dwellers Westmeath in a dire game at Newbridge yesterday.
The win, achieved despite shooting 16 wides, keeps the home side's promotion hopes alive and in the process pushes their opponents ever closer towards the trap door.
Westmeath got off to a perfect start with a third-minute goal from the penalty spot by Paul Bannon.
Martin Flanagan profited from a poor kick-out to add another major 10 minutes later and by that stage, Westmeath had built a seven-point lead without conceding a score.
At the interval they still led by five and even though Eamonn Callaghan hit the Westmeath net soon after the resumption, points from Bannon (free) and Michael Ennis put them three clear entering the final quarter.
However, the Allenwood ace converted three frees to bring the sides level. Then he produced a wonderful score with his right boot from tight on the right touchline before surpassing even that with a free that was around 50m out to give Kildare a crucial two-point lead entering injury-time.
All Westmeath could manage to unearth was a Doran Harte point, but that was the final act of the day.
"We'll have to continue to build for the championship. We have the U-21s to come back into that squad. The building will continue right through," said Westmeath manager Brendan Hackett. Kieran McGeeney wasn't hiding his team's lack of fluidity or the many mistakes that were made, but he was keen to concentrate on the positives.
"I think we were poor but I wouldn't say we were lucky," he said. "Two positives would be that we came from five points behind at half-time to win, and we won the game playing poorly."
Scorers -- Kildare: J Doyle 0-6 (0-5f), E Callaghan 1-1, M O'Flaherty 0-2, A Rainbow, R Sweeney 0-1 each Westmeath: M Flanagan, P Bannon (1-0 pen, 0-2f) 1-2 each, G Flanagan, D Harte, M Ennis 0-1 each.
Kildare -- P Flood; H McGrillen, D Hendy, E Bolton; M O'Flaherty, B Flanagan, M Scanlon; D Flynn, H Lynch; R Kelly, A Rainbow, D Whyte; K Ennis, J Doyle, E Callaghan. Subs: K O'Neill for Hendy (18), R Sweeney for Lynch (25), J Kavanagh for Ennis (26), K Donnelly for Rainbow (43), K Cribbin for Scanlon (59).
Westmeath -- G Connaughton; K Gavin, D O'Donoghue, J Gaffey; M Dalton, F Boyle, W Coyne; D Duffy, G Flanagan; D Harte, J Smyth, M Ennis; P Bannon, M Flanagan, P Greville. Subs: G Hoey for Greville (13), T Warburton for Hoey (h-t), D Healy for Smyth (46), A Finnan for Warburton (68).
Ref -- A Mangan (Kerry).