Thursday 19 July 2018

Doyle and Feely keep Lilywhites' season alive

Kildare 1-16 Longford 1-13

Longford’s Liam Connerton shoots under pressure from James Murray and Kevin Flynn during last night’s football qualifier at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach
Longford’s Liam Connerton shoots under pressure from James Murray and Kevin Flynn during last night’s football qualifier at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach

John Brennan

They left it late, but they got there. It was the 69th minute before Kildare led in this second round qualifier, but they were in front from there to the end and that was all that mattered.

Longford worked hard and played well all through, but they failed to score between the 56th and 75th minutes and that cost them. In the heat of the evening, Kildare's squad strength stood to them and Longford's late mistakes undid so much of their good work during the game.

Kildare's Neil Flynn of Kildare shoots as Longford's Conor Berry watches on. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare's Neil Flynn of Kildare shoots as Longford's Conor Berry watches on. Photo: Sportsfile

Eoin Doyle, Fergal Conway and Neil Flynn were the heroes for the winners, but they will be listening anxiously to tomorrow morning's draw. This Kildare side will not want to run into the likes of Mayo, Tyrone or Monaghan.

What we saw last night in Longford won't do against those counties. They would feast on the Lilies' many errors in a manner that Longford didn't have the attacking power to do.

Longford were without the suspended James McGivney, after his late challenge on Stephen Cluxton in the semi-final, but another forward, Rian Brady, was out too having been injured in training during the week.

Longford have a strong record at home - Mayo, Derry and Meath have fallen here in the championship - while the hosts also gave Kerry and Dublin their fill of it at the ground in their time.

Kildare's Paul Cribbin of Kildare launches the ball under pressure from Longford's Donal McElligott. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare's Paul Cribbin of Kildare launches the ball under pressure from Longford's Donal McElligott. Photo: Sportsfile

As the crowd filed in, savouring the glorious summer sunshine, most Kildare supporters were entitled to wonder what Lilies side would turn up - the team that had been dismal against Carlow or the one that had blown Derry away in style in the first round of the qualifiers.

Kevin Feely didn't start the match for Kildare, having been injured against Derry, with Paddy Brophy taking his place. Kildare also lost Niall Kelly to a black card after just three minutes for pulling down Donal McElligott.

It was a surprisingly open game in which the visitors seemed the more powerful force, but they regularly scuppered by turning over the ball in the tackle.

The teams swapped points as both sought to work good chances for kicking scores, but the first attempt for a goal in the game was a cracker when Liam Connerton almost broke the crossbar with a thunderous shot.

Kildare manager Cian O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare manager Cian O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile

It was an escape for Kildare, but they soon fell a couple of points behind as Robbie Smyth and Conor Berry landed lovely scores.

Longford hit the crossbar for the second time when McElligott sauntered through the heart of the Kildare backline and his shot rebounded for a point off the woodwork.

Half-time arrived with the home team a point up, but those two goal chances were surely on the mind of all supporting the blue and gold. They were missed chances that ultimately came back to haunt Longford.

Kildare still had clear problems in the heart of their defence where Longford were making easy inroads. It has been a problem for Kildare all season - they have men back, but they aren't forcing the opposition wide and they are still getting through or around for scores.

Kildare's Paddy Brophy, right, and Kevin Feely. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare's Paddy Brophy, right, and Kevin Feely. Photo: Sportsfile

Still, the tit-for-tat point scoring went on in the second half with Longford having chances to break away and go two or three points clear, but they did not take them. Instead, Kildare found an extra gear as Eoin Doyle, with his fist, and Feely, on at last, got the points that won the day for Cian O'Neill's side.

Incredibly, the teams swapped goals as time expired. Substitute Chris Healy found the net for Kildare with a palmed effort before Robbie Smyth got a late consolation for Longford. But their year is now done while the Lilies are still in bloom.

Scorers - Kildare: N Flynn 0-5; C Healy 1-0; P Brophy, T Moolick, P Cribben 0-2 each; D Flynn, D Hyland, K Feely, E Doyle, F Conway 0-1 each. Longford: R Smyth 1-5; D Gallagher 0-2; D McGivney, S McCormack, L Connerton, C Berry, D McElligott, P Collum 0-1 each.

Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O'Grady; J Murray, E Doyle, K Flynn; P Brophy, T Moolick; F Conway, P Cribben, K Cribbin; N Flynn, D Flynn, N Kelly. Subs: E O'Connor for Kelly (BC, 3), D Slattery for K Cribben (43), J Byrne for Murray (49), C Healy for Moolick (52), C McNally for O'Connor (57), K Feely for Conway (BC, 68).

Longford: P Collum; P Fox, P McCormack, D Masterson; M Quinn, D McElligott, D Mimnagh; D Gallagher, C Berry; D McGivney, D Reynolds, B McKeon; R Smyth, S McCormack, L Connerton. Subs: B Gilleran for McCormack (BC, 53).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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