Cian O'Neill gets much needed win as Kildare finally hit their stride to overcome Offaly
Kildare 1-22 Offaly 2-14
Kildare finished strongly to edge a pulsating local derby and advance to the third round of qualifiers.
In a game that advertised once again the benefit of playing championship games at provincial grounds rather than at half-empty headquarters, the home side had just too much for their neighbours.
Adam Tyrrell got Kildare off the mark and was one of three Lilywhite forwards to register three points in the first half, with Niall Kelly and Neil Flynn the others. Kelly in particular was tremendously economic, as he struggled to get involved but lofted some fantastic scores.
Offaly kept in touch though, helped largely by the habitual indiscipline of the Kildare defence that presented Nigel Dunne with five points from frees. Johnny Moloney proved a real handful in general play and as well as being fouled for a couple of those frees, the Tullamore forward added a brace of his own from play and had his marker, the former All Star Peter Kelly replaced.
Niall McNamee also offered a glimpse of his class when found with a quick delivery and spiralling a fantastic score on the turn.
One of Moloney’s points could have been a goal but his piledriver produced a stunning save from Mark Donnellan. Tommy Moolick scored the Kildare goal after 14 minutes. The midfielder thundered through the middle and while Alan Mulhall stopped his initial shot, Moolick bundled the rebound over to put four between the sides.
Offaly hit back with three points but four magnificent points on the trot, including a pearler from the very influential Kevin Feely, propelled them to a 1-12 to 0-10 interval lead. The visitors did have the benefit of a strengthening wind in the second half but Kildare looked comfortable until Peter Cunningham intercepted an attempted pass and set up Dunne for 42nd goal.
Four minutes later, Cunningham finished emphatically from the penalty spot after Mooney had been taken down by Mark Donnellan. In truth, they were rare attacking forays for Offaly though as Moolick, Feely and Emmet Bolton got on a mountain on ball. As tempers frayed late on, Offaly lost Eoin Carroll to a second yellow card in the 67th minute but Kildare held their nerve with a couple of pointed frees by Eoghan O’Flaherty as well as tremendous scores by Niall Kelly, David Hyland and Alan Smith saw them home.
Kildare: M Donnellan, P Kelly, D Hyland, O Lyons, J Byrne, E Doyle, E Bolton, T Moolick, K Feely, A Tyrrell (0-1), M O’Flaherty, F Conway, C McNally, N Kelly, N Flynn (0-1f).
Subs: C Fitzpatrick for P Kelly (33), E O’Flaherty for Tyrrell (48), C O’Donoghue for Lyons inj (51), F Dowling for Doyle BC (52), A Smith for Flynn (54), K Cribbin for McNally BC (70+2)
Offaly: A Mulhall, B Darby, E Rigney, S Pender, N Darby, P Cunningham, C Donohue, E Carroll, N Smith, M Brazil, N Dunne, G Guilfoyle, A Sullivan, N McNamee, J Moloney.
Subs: C McNamee for Guilfoyle (ht), B Allen for Brazil (65), J Gethins for Donohue (67), J Lalor for Cunningham (70+4)
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh)