Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lilywhites make great escape as Limerick fade

(After extra time)

Kildare used their get out of jail card in the fading light of Portlaoise, needing a 70th-minute equaliser from the outstanding Emmet Bolton to give themselves an added 20 minutes, from which they emerged successful.

It was tough on Limerick, who had been outstanding throughout, but they failed to score after Brian Scanlon pushed them 0-11 to 0-8 clear with 20 minutes remaining.

Kildare were workmanlike but they chipped away. The inspirational John Doyle lofted over a free before James Kavanagh found the mark, seconds after Seanie Johnston had appeared to point. That effort had been waved wide, though, and it looked as if Limerick might hold out.

That was until Kavanagh forced a turnover deep inside his own half and Bolton went off on a dazzling surge that involved a couple of one-twos. He took the final pass from Peter Kelly and held his nerve. From there, it was plain sailing, Michael Foley, Paidi O'Neill and Johnston notching points.

Eoghan O'Flaherty opened the scoring from an eighth-minute free into the wind and Kildare were so close to a goal just two minutes later but Bolton was unable to get at the end of Kavanagh's exquisite pass. Ian Ryan equalised from the next attack and then blasted over under pressure from Kelly, after the Kildare man had misjudged the flight of a diagonal delivery.

Alan Smith clipped over to restore parity, and there was a further exchange of scores between Ryan and Kavanagh before Limerick edged two clear courtesy of a brace of Ryan frees. Mikey Conway then sent over a rare right-footed effort.

But it was Limerick that finished the half stronger. Stephen Kelly made amends for an earlier miss with a wonderful point. Substitute Damian Quaid lofted over from 40 metres just before the short whistle and the Shannonsiders led at the interval by 0-7 to 0-4.

Kildare flew out of the traps with early points from Rob Kelly and Foley, but Limerick were not retreating into their shell. Ryan and Ger Collins responded, while Eoghan O'Connor lofted over a brilliant point. Limerick defended impressively, but it was the veterans Doyle, Foley and Bolton that led the Lilywhites' resistance and Kildare live on.

Scorers -- Kildare: M Conway (2fs), J Kavanagh 0-3 each; J Doyle (2fs), S Johnston 0-2 each; A Smith, R Kelly, M Foley, E Bolton, E O'Flaherty (f), P O'Neill, M O'Flaherty, E Doyle, P Fogarty 0-1 each. Limerick: I Ryan 0-8 (5fs); S Kelly, D Quaid, G Collins, E O'Connor 0-1 each.

Kildare: S Connolly; P Kelly, H McGrillen, O Lyons; E Bolton, M O'Flaherty, E Doyle; M Foley, R Kelly; E O'Flaherty, J Doyle, M Conway; A Smith, T O'Connor, J Kavanagh. Subs: P O'Neill for R Kelly (48), S Johnston for E O'Flaherty (48), P Fogarty for O'Connor (56), E Callaghan for Smith (66), G White for Bolton inj (74), A Mac Lochlainn for Lyons inj (74), E O'Flaherty for M O'Flaherty inj (80).

Limerick: B Scanlon; A Lane, S Lucey, J McCarthy; J Riordan, L O'Dwyer, P Ranahan; J Donovan, S Buckley; E O'Connor, S Kelly, P Browne; G Collins, S O'Carroll, I Ryan. Subs: D Quaid for Lane (22), I Corbett for O'Carroll (51), B O'Brien for Donovan (54), J O'Meara for Kelly (61), J Cooke for Collins (68), S Kelly for Riordan (83).

Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).

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