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Holders Kildare serve notice with facile rout of Longford

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Kildare's Paul Cribbin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Kildare's Paul Cribbin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Kildare's Paul Cribbin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

O'BYRNE CUP holders Kildare all but sealed their place in the semi-finals of this year's competition with a scoring exhibition against outclassed Longford at Newtowncashel last night.

When referee Niall Ward finally called time, the gulf in quality between these two Group B rivals had extended to a 23-point chasm, translated into a scoreline of 3-20 to 0-6.

Goals from Padraig Fogarty and second half substitutes Mikey Conway and Darroch Mulhall embroidered this one-sided rout, but the real star of the show was Eoghan O'Flaherty.

The Carbury schemer had run riot against Athlone IT at the weekend, and here he continued in the same vein, dictating play from centre-forward while amassing 0-7 (five from play) after his own name.

Both teams arrived at the south Longford venue buoyed by emphatic winning starts last Sunday.

Longford were aiming to build on their nine-point winning raid on Carlow, while fully appreciating the far stiffer challenge posed by a Kildare outfit that demolished Athlone IT by 24 points.

But inside ten minutes of his mismatch, it was clear that Jack Sheedy's experimental outfit were in for a tortuous night against the gung-ho Lilywhites.

Jason Ryan opted for a mixture of seasoned stars, familiar U21 faces and several Kildare wannabes - and they duly blew away Longford in a lopsided first 35 minutes which ended with a scoreline of 1-11 to 0-2. All over bar the half-time cuppa.

SUPERIOR

Kildare were superior in every facet: upper-body prowess, strength in the tackle, cohesive team play, razor-sharp movement and near-flawless execution (they had just two wides in that opening half).

By comparison, Longford were physically lightweight, lax at the back and far too inclined to play as individuals in attack. This was reflected in their errant shooting: Paul McKeon and Cian Minmagh were their only point-scorers in a first half which saw them shoot eight wides and drop a further five into Shane Connolly's hands.

At the other end, the visitors were in the mood to dish out a salutary lesson - although there was an element of luck attached by their opening score, a fifth minute goal for Fogarty.

It stemmed from a Paul Cribbin shot that was half-blocked, dropping invitingly into Fogarty's grasp. He neatly side-stepped Damien Sheridan for a tap-in goal.

And with that, Kildare literally took off. Fogarty proved an excellent target-man, tormenting Fergal Battrim, while O'Flaherty pulled the strings on the '40' and Robbie Dunne roamed from his corner-forward berth to telling effect.

Kildare had already suckered the hosts for an unanswered 1-4 before McKeon briefly stopped the rot with an 11th minute opener.

It was but a brief respite, as Fogarty was out in front of Battrim for a superb right-footed point, bringing his tally to 1-2 and kickstarting another five-point salvo from the men in white.

The visitors eased off for a while during the third quarter, but then Conway finished off a slick move with a calm 49th minute finish to the net and then - in garbage time - Mulhall fisted home from point blank range.

SCORERS - Kildare: E O'Flaherty 0-7 (2f), P Fogarty 1-2, M Conway, D Mulhall 1-1 each, R Dunne 0-3, C Murphy, C McNally, T Moolick 0-2 each. Longford: B Kavanagh 0-3 (1f), P McKeon, C Mimnagh, P Gill 0-1 each.

KILDARE: S Connolly; M O'Grady, M Foley, J Kinahan; K Murnaghan, F Conway, P Cribbin; G White, T Moolick; C Canning, E O'Flaherty, C McNally; R Dunne, C Murphy, P Fogarty. Subs: C Tiernan for Cribbin (46), M Conway for Murphy (46), H Lynch for F Conway (52), D Mulhall for Dunne (57), M Konstantin for O'Grady (61), S Campbell for Kinahan (63).

LONGFORD: D Sheridan; F Battrim, D Keogh, A Rowan; G Farrell, F Reilly, G Smith; K Diffley, J Keegan; B Farrell, D Cooney, P Gill; P McKeon, B Kavanagh, C Mimnagh. Subs: CP Smyth for G Smith (22), P Brady for G Farrell (ht), S Doyle for B Farrell (46), R McEntire for Gill (46), S Kiernan for Diffley (50), S Cox for Keogh (59).

REF: N Ward (Westmeath).


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