Friday 20 April 2018

Flynn and McCormack fire Lilies into final

Kildare 1-16 Westmeath 1-3 EirGrid Leinster U-21 FC

Con Kavanagh, Kildare, in action against Daire Conway, Westmeath (SPORTSFILE)
Con Kavanagh, Kildare, in action against Daire Conway, Westmeath (SPORTSFILE)
Ben McCormack, Kildare, in action against Linus Sayeh, Westmeath (SPORTSFILE)
Gavin Delaney, Westmeath, in action against Luke Flynn, Kildare (SPORTSFILE)
Cein McMonagle, Kildare, in action against Daire Conway, Westmeath (SPORTSFILE)

Michael Verney

A sparkling attacking display propelled Kildare into the provincial final as they dismantled a disappointing Westmeath side in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise.

Led by a lethal full-forward trio of Ben McCormack, Chris Healy and Neil Flynn, who fired 1-12 between them over the hour, the Lilywhites never looked in any great danger and coasted to a 13-point victory.

Bryan Murphy's side fired the first seven points of the game to assert their dominance on the tie but when Jack Quinn poked an opportunistic goal to the Kildare net, it sparked a mini-Westmeath revival to leave it 0-9 to 1-2 at half-time.

Kildare were devastating on the resumption, however, with Luke Flynn and Paschal Connell totally dominant in the middle of the park.

The towering duo operated a 'thou shall not pass' policy, winning numerous kick-outs before offloading at speed and setting up several attacks.

Westmeath had no answers for the pace and movement of the dynamic trio when the ball was moved to the inside line and they scored at will. Along with wing-forward Con Kavanagh, who hit three points from play, they tormented the Lake defence, with Flynn sealing the win with a coolly-taken penalty.

Emmet McDonnell's side hit one solitary score in the closing 30 minutes, a free from Robert Hickey, as Kildare stamped their physicality on the game and wore down their rivals.

The Lilies got off to a blistering start with Kavanagh firing over in the fourth minute before Healy and Flynn (free) had them three points up as their direct style pierced holes in the Westmeath rearguard.

The lively McCormack struck twice before Healy and Flynn pointed to leave Kildare in complete control. The Lake side were struggling for traction up front but a scrambled goal by Quinn, their first score of the game, ignited their charge.


Paddy Fagan quickly followed up with a magnificent solo effort as the Westmeath supporters voiced their approval.

But McCormack settled his side when blazing over before Darren Giles responded with a point after his long-range free had earlier hit the post, deceiving Declan Campbell.

Kildare responded strongly with Flynn stroking over a free after Ryan Houlihan made one of many rampaging runs forward, to leave it 0-9 to 1-2 at half-time.

Healy opened the second-half scoring before Robert Hickey replied with a free but thereafter it was all Kildare as they reeled off 1-6 without reply, strangling the life out of Westmeath's challenge.

Kavanagh (2) and Flynn sent over superb scores as Kildare dominated possession at midfield, providing the springboard for attack after attack. McCormack sent over his fourth point before Chris Healy had a goal chance well saved by goalkeeper Kevin Fagan.

Sub Cein McMonagle sent over a fine score after a probing run before Kildare's inside line got just rewards for their tireless work with a goal.

McCormack and Flynn combined before Flynn was hauled down. He dusted himself off to fire home low to the left corner to finish proceedings with a flourish.

Kildare will face the winners of Dublin and Laois, and a likely chance of revenge on the Dubs for last year's final defeat.

Scorers - Kildare: N Flynn 1-5 (0-4fs, 1-0 pen), B McCormack 0-4, C Healy, C Kavanagh 0-3 each, C McMonagle 0-1, Westmeath: J Quinn 1-0, D Giles, P Fagan, R Hickey (f) 0-1 each.

KILDARE - D Campbell, E Bateman, D Maguire, P Mescal; R Houlihan, S Ryan, B Byrne; L Flynn, P Connell; C Hartley, B Kelly, C Kavanagh; B McCormack, C Healy, N Flynn. Subs: C McMonagle for B Kelly (ht), M Hyland for E Bateman (39), R Feely for C Hartley (46), J Flynn for R Houlihan and J Costello for B Byrne (both 59), C Delahunty for B McCormack (61).

WESTMEATH - K Fagan; R Wallace, I Ilunga, L Sayeh; G Murray, A McCormack, D Conway; G Delaney, T Watts; S Corcoran, R Hickey, S Duncan; D Giles, J Quinn, P Fagan. Subs: A McGivney for R Wallace (17), M Monaghan for D Giles (38), R Cunningham for G Murray (45), J Halligan for S Corcoran (50), N Mitchell for T Watts (51), I McGovern for R Hickey (55).

ref - S Murphy (Louth)

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