Sunday 21 January 2018

Flanagan fury over Dunne's dismissal

Kildare 3-11 Offaly 0-8

Kildare’s Tommy Moolick is challenged by Offaly goalkeeper Alan Mulhall during their O’Byrne Cup clash at O’Connor Park in Tullamore. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare’s Tommy Moolick is challenged by Offaly goalkeeper Alan Mulhall during their O’Byrne Cup clash at O’Connor Park in Tullamore. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Kildare took their total score for three games in a week to an impressive 8-50, leaving them with the best possible mindset for next Sunday's semi-final clash with Dublin.

That will be a considerable step up in class but it's exactly what Kildare need from a pre-season campaign whose sole function is to leave them well prepared for the demands of Division 2.

They were never really stretched during yesterday's visit to Tullamore, where the outcome was flagged from as early as the 12th minute when Offaly corner-forward Nigel Dunne was sent off on a straight red card.

Longford referee Patrick Maguire adjudged that Dunne's challenge on Cathal McNally called for the ultimate sanction, a decision that left Offaly manager Pat Flanagan surprised and frustrated.

"I saw nothing in the tackle, not even a yellow card. That decision greatly hampered us. It took away a lot of our pre-match energy.

"We suffered badly after that," said Flanagan, who was unhappy with the choice of officials in the first place.

Fergal Conway of Kildare in action against James Lalor of Offaly. Photo: Sportsfile
Fergal Conway of Kildare in action against James Lalor of Offaly. Photo: Sportsfile

"I find it difficult to understand why there were Longford officials, seeing that we're playing Longford (League) in three weeks' time." he said.

Being short-handed for so long was always going to be too much for Offaly, who are still without most of the Rhode contingent, whose season extended into December when they lost the Leinster club final to St Vincent's.

They had started well and led by a point after 10 minutes, with Dunne looking especially enterprising.

"When Nigel was taken out of the game it left a big gap as he was playing well. He was providing an outlet that we lacked for the rest of the game. It made a big difference. We had a game-plan that was working well until Nigel was sent off," said Flanagan.

Leon Fox of Offaly attempts to hold off Mick O'Grady of Kildare. Photo: Sportsfile
Leon Fox of Offaly attempts to hold off Mick O'Grady of Kildare. Photo: Sportsfile

Offaly's morale dipped at an alarming rate after Dunne's departure, allowing Kildare to build a match-winning lead by half-time, at which stage they led by 2-8 to 0-2.

Niall Kelly, by a distance the best player on view, scored their first goal in the 15th minute and Eoin Doyle got in for their second nine minutes later when a sweeping move left him with an easy finish. Kildare should have been even further ahead at the interval but were let down by poor shooting - seven wides and four shots that dropped short.

It was always going to be a lost cause for Offaly in the second half but, to their credit, they battled bravely, kicking four early points. They also prevented Kildare from scoring for 19 minutes before impressive midfielder Tommy Moolick flicked in their third goal.

Kildare lost promising young defender Shea Ryan on a straight red card for a foul on Michael Brazil in the 46th minute but were so far ahead that it was never likely to create a major headache.

Nonetheless, manager Cian O'Neill was unhappy with their performance in a second half where they scored only 1-3.

"I was disappointed with that. We made a lot of changes in the second half but it shouldn't have had as much of an impact as it had.

"That doesn't happen with the top teams. If anything, when you bring on subs it should add to your performance.

"It's not the fault of individuals, it was more a fault of the team not playing cohesively.

Unusual

"We learned a lot of lessons. That performance might have been enough today but it certainly won't be enough in Division 2," said O'Neill.

He's right in the context of the second half but then it's not unusual for performance levels to drop when a game is all but over at half-time.

And when O'Neill reflects on the first half, he will be quite pleased by so many aspects of his side's performance.

They looked especially effective when moving the ball at pace while also mixing a long and short game to good effect.

And when they got into the scoring zone, Kelly always looked as if he could unpick Offaly's locks.

O'Neill acknowledged that the squad were in better shape on all fronts that last January, when he and the players were still in 'getting to know you' mode.

Next Sunday's test against Dublin will provide even more information for a group that appears to be shaping up nicely.

Yesterday's attendance was 1,351.

Scorers - Kildare: N Kelly 1-4, T Moolick 1-1, E Doyle 1-0, N Flynn 0-2 (2f), C Hartley, C McNally, F Conway, F Dowling (f) 0-1 each. Offaly: W Mulhall 0-3 (2f), N Dunne , S Nally, S Tierney, S Doyle, P Cunningham 0-1 each.

Kildare - M Donnellan; M O'Grady, D Hyland, O Lyons; S Ryan, E Doyle, J Byrne; T Moolick, F Dowling; F Conway, C Hartley, C McNally; N Flynn, N Kelly, B McCormack.

Subs: D Slattery for Hartley (h-t), C O'Donoghue for Byrne (h-t), K Cribbin for Conway (h-t), E Callaghan for McNally (51), E Heavey for McCormack (51), P Connell for Moolick (54), S McNamara for Donnellan (57),Conway for Doyle (61), Hartley for Flynn (61).

Offaly - A Mulhall; C Donoghue, J Lalor, J O'Connor; D Hogan, S Nally, A Mahon; E Carroll, J Gethings; J Brickland, W Mulhall, L Fox; N Dunne, M Brazil, P Cunningham.

Subs: D Brady for Mahon (44), K Dunne for Brickland (51), S Doyle for Mulhall (53), L Colgan for Hogan (55), D Carroll for Donoghue (56), S Tierney for Fox (69), R McNamee for Cunningham (64).

Ref - P Maguire (Longford)

Irish Independent

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