Late surge sees Kildare past Louth
A late second half surge saw Kildare recover from their drubbing at the hands of Dublin to beat Louth by 1-19 to 0-15 in an entertaining encounter in St Conleth's Park, Newbridge.
The game was still in the melting pot as it entered the final minutes and Kildare led by one when Tomas O'Connor pounced for a typically gutsy goal and they never looked like losing after that.
Louth were the better team for two-thirds of the game but Kildare's superior fitness won out.
Kildare raced into a three point lead with fine points from Paul Cribben and Padraig O’Neill helping them into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead but four unanswered points from Colm Judge, Brian White and a brace from Ciaran Byrne putting the Wee County in front.
Kildare equalised before Shane Lennon put Louth back in front.
Kieran McGeeney’s side scored three on the trot to go into a two-point lead with Johnny Doyle’s left-footed point the pick of those.
Ciaran Byrne kicked his third point of the game to cut Kildare’s advantage to a solitary point late in the first half and with two minutes to the break Colm Judge restored parity.
Substitute Tomas O’Connor was denied a goal by a fine save and Louth broke quickly and Ciaran Byrne put Louth back in front and Brian White doubled their advantage 30 seconds later.
It took five minutes for the first score of the second half to come and it was a Brian White free and Louth extended their lead to four when Shane Lennon pounced on a loose pass from Peter Kelly to score.
Eoghan O’Flaherty and White swapped points before Niall Kelly put just a goal between the sides.
Another point from wing-forward O’Flaherty and a brilliant score from corner-back Hugh McGrillen put a single point between the teams.
Louth’s Ray Finnegan responded to those Kildare points with a super point of his own but that was cancelled out straight away by Kildare substitute Alan Smith to make it 0-14 to 0-13 with 20 minutes remaining.
A great run and point for Emmett Bolton got McGeeney’s men back on level terms.
The accurate Ciaran Byrne had Louth back in front but Johnny Doyle, who had been quiet, got Kildare back on terms again.
Inexplicable misses from frees for Eoghan O’Flaherty and Shane Lennon kept the sides locked together before Seanie Johnston kicked the home side in front.
Tomas O’Connor was fouled and Johnny Doyle kicked Kildare into a two-point lead with six minutes of normal time remaining.
Kildare got the goal they needed with three minutes left when Tomas O’Connor seized upon Alan Smith speculative ball and rounded the keeper before finding the net.
Louth’s spirit was broken and Kildare rattled off point after point for a seven-point win.