Derry wilt in face of Lilies' momentum
Kildare 0-19 Derry 0-13
THE bookmakers had installed Kildare as firm favourites to end Derry's championship run at Croke Park yesterday, allowing the Oakleaf county a five-point start in the handicap, and the participants could not have been more obliging.
Croke Park has brought out the best in Kildare in recent years; here, they comfortably maintained their robust record in the qualifiers which has seen them unbeaten since 2007. They weren't at their best but they were still much too good for Derry who tired and grew ragged as the match wore on.
One had to have some measure of sympathy for John Brennan's side, shorn of the scoring threat and guile of the Bradleys and with just six days to recover from their failed Ulster title bid -- one easily unravelled by Donegal's rigid methodology and raw hunger.
Only one team has managed to win a quarter-final a week after losing a provincial final and to win a fourth-round qualifier against a team like Kildare, who thrive on momentum, was a tall order in any language. Of the four teams in Croke Park yesterday, Derry arrived with the most dampened expectations.
Without the Bradleys, they lacked teeth in attack and a goal-scoring edge. Of the starting forwards, Mark Lynch and James Kielt were both substituted in the second half and the defence proved a fragile foil to the twin threat of James Kavanagh and Tomas O'Connor.
Derry's hopes were pinned on establishing a solid early platform and springing maybe a goal or two to leave Kildare chasing the game. They had the ball in the net in the 18th minute, but Enda Muldoon was standing in the small square when he took a pass after intricate approach work by Lynch.
By then Derry had settled, but Kildare were shadowing them all the way. A lively and footloose Declan Mullan started in a two-man inside forward line with Muldoon and picked off three first half scores. Kildare relieved Hugh McGrillen of the duty of policing him, and deployed Andriu MacLochlainn as guard instead. McGrillen used the extra freedom to kick a delightful point from play, as he had against Meath, but he had an unconvincing afternoon on the basics.
Kildare were three ahead by the interval and could have pulled comfortably clear sooner than they did but for some poor shooting, one of the areas that may hamper them in their bid to win some silverware. There was an absence of the kind of ruthlessness that wins championships and their possession did not see a commensurate return on the scoreboard. But there were positives. They need to produce their best football from here on once the provincial champions rejoin the race and there is definitely a good deal more in them.
Kavanagh started the match after an impressive introduction against Meath and he was their star performer with four points from play. One of those could have been a first half goal when he went thundering through with Derry's cover stretched and O'Connor free and signalling for the pass. In an open match it may be a concern that they did not create much in the way of goalscoring chances but 19 points is a good haul and they spent the second half embellishing their lead and keeping Derry from getting any notions of rescuing the situation.
By the interval Kildare had taken John Doyle out of midfield in a swap with Robert Kelly, who impressed at corner forward while Gary White was taken off. Derry put Kevin McCloy on the towering O'Connor and Kevin McGuckin followed Kavanagh, fruitlessly for the most part.
Derry conceded frees too charitably and Doyle was enjoying one of his infallible days. He kicked three from the left with his right, and a tricky one from the right, a deft stroke nearing half-time. By then Kildare, slow starters usually, were 0-11 to 0-8 to the good. Derry can't have been encouraged. In the second half Doyle added two more and spoiled his almost perfect kicking day with one wild shot into the Hill 16 end when attempting a score from play.
Doyle kicked his sixth free to reopen a five-point lead entering the final 10 minutes but on the hour mark Conleth Gilligan landed a free and Derry, with a fraction of the possession, were within four.
Up stepped Kavanagh however with an immaculate score, his fourth of the afternoon, and a couple of minutes later Padraig O'Neill ensured all the attack had contributed from play with a fine strike. At six points, the lead looked virtually impenetrable and so it proved.
Scorers -- Kildare: J Doyle 0-6f, J Kavanagh 0-4, R Kelly, T O'Connor 0-2 each, E Callaghan, H McGrillen, E O'Flaherty, P O'Neill, R Sweeney 0-1 each Derry: C Gilligan 0-4 (3f), D Mullan 0-3, E Muldoon, S McGoldrick, J Kielt (f), J Diver, G O'Kane, B McGoldrick 0-1;
Kildare: S Connolly; A MacLochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen; G White, M O'Flaherty, E Bolton; J Doyle, D Flynn; P O'Neill, E O'Flaherty, E Callaghan; J Kavanagh, T O'Connor, R Kelly. Subs: O Lyons for White (24), R Sweeney for D Flynn (63), D Hendy for McGrillen (69), F Dowling for E O'Flaherty (69).
Derry: D Devlin; D McBride, K McCloy, K McGuckin; C Kielt, B McGoldrick, G O'Kane; J Diver, M Friel; J Kielt, M Lynch, S McGoldrick; D Mullan, D Mullan, E Muldoon, C Gilligan. Subs: PJ McCloskey for Friel (40), M Bateson for J Kielt (44), M Donaghy for Lynch (47), N Holly for McCloskey (inj 53), C O'Boyle for C Kielt (63)
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford)
Sunday Indo Sport