Kelly's the hero as Lilies edge Treaty
Kildare recorded their fourth win on the trot at St Conleth's Park yesterday to put them firmly on course for an immediate return to Division 2 but manager Cian O'Neill was left deeply unimpressed by their performance.
After a bright opening 20 minutes, Kildare's performance tailed off badly and, in the end, Limerick were left feeling hard done by after not taking anything from the game.
Niall Kelly's fifth-minute goal seemed to set Kildare up for a big display and by the 23rd minute they led 1-4 to 0-2 but a tactical switch by Limerick changed the course of the game.
They dropped an additional man into their backline, where they were already fielding one sweeper, and Kildare suddenly found it very difficult to make the ball stick in their forward line.
A constant stream of the turnovers allowed Limerick the chance to counter-attack and Ian Ryan converted four successive frees to leave just a point between the teams at the half-time break.
Niall Kelly and Fionn Dowling kicked scores early in the second half but even that failed to ignite the home team's display. They failed to score over the next 14 minutes and were only two points ahead in the 58th minute when they had a major let-off when Killian Ryan rattled their crossbar.
Substitute Sean McSweeney pointed a free to leave a point between the teams in the 62nd minute and it was as you were going into the final five minutes after O'Flaherty and Danny Neville traded frees.
Kildare finally found something close to their best form to pull four points clear going into to injury time thanks to two well-taken points by the experienced Eamonn Callaghan and another O'Flaherty free.
However, a late goal-mouth scramble ended with Brian Fanning getting the final touch as the ball went into the net to leave just the minimum between the teams.
Man-of-the-match Kevin Feely won possession from the kick-out to ensure that Limerick wouldn't get a chance to push for an equaliser but although the home side ended up collecting both points, they will know that a big improvement is needed.
Scorers - Kildare: N Kelly (1f) 1-1; E O'Flaherty (2f) 0-3; A Smith, E Callaghan 0-2 each; K Feely, F Dowling, J Byrne 0-1 each. Limerick: I Ryan (5f) 0-6; B Fanning 1-0; S McSweeney (2f) 0-2; D Neville (f), S Buckley 0-1 each.
Kildare - T Corley 6; P Kelly 6, D Hyland 6, E Powderly 5; J Byrne 6, F Conway 6, C O'Donoghue 6; K Feely 8, D Flynn 6; C McNally 5, E O'Flaherty 6, M Byrne 5; N Kelly 6, F Dowling 6, A Smith 6. Subs: O Lyons 6 for Powderly (16, BC); K Murnaghan 6 for Conway (h/t); E Callaghan 7 for Smith (45); T Moolick 6 for Flynn (50); P O'Neill 5 for Dowling (54); E O'Connor 5 for McNally (65).
Limerick - D O'Sullivan 6; J McCarthy 5, P Browne 6, S O'Dea 6; M Donovan 6, I Corbett 5, P White 6; T Lee 6, D Treacy 6; D Neville 6, P Ranahan 6, S Buckley 7; P Nash 6, I Ryan 7, C Sheehan 7. Subs: S Cahill 6 for Corbett (17); S Flanagan 6 for McCarthy (25); K Ryan 6 for Buckley (44); S McSweeney 7 for Ryan (48); B Donovan 6 for Nash (56); B Fanning 7 for Ranahan (65).
Ref - N Cullen (Fermanagh).
Roscommon look to have secured their top flight status with a third convincing win in a row, but after a fourth loss for Down and confirmation that former All Star Benny Coulter has left the panel, it looks bleak for the Mourne men.
Ciaran Murtagh and Fintan Cregg were the standout performers for Roscommon, who also had Seanie McDermott in great form at the back, as Murtagh's penalty a minute from time put the hat on a convincing win.
It was only on Thursday that Hyde Park was deemed unplayable and Roscommon were forced to forfeit home advantage and move the game to Longford, and manager Fergie O'Donnell admitted that the confusion over the venue was a distraction.
But Roscommon had little trouble adding to their away wins in Cork and Kerry, which has almost secured their top flight status for 2017, but Donegal await next weekend.
"I suppose back in November we probably would have taken six points but there are three games to go and hopefully we can pick up something. It's going to be difficult. There's no point saying that we're not happy, we are happy," said O'Donnell.
"It was a huge distraction. You know you're going to Pairc Ui Rinn, you know you're going to Letterkenny next week. The two games we've had at home, they should be big occasions played in Hyde Park, but it's hugely disappointing."
For Down this was another poor display, and relegation looks a certainty, barring a miraculous comeback which must be started next week against Dublin. But the loss of Coulter is a blow to manager Eamonn Burns, who is now surely planning for the summer.
"Those boys are finished. Benny Coulter has withdrawn from the panel. He couldn't make the commitment due to work commitments. We have no one else coming in.
"He was in shortly after Christmas time but he can't make the training because of work so he's withdrawn himself from the panel," said Down boss Burns.
Scorers - Roscommon: C Murtagh 1-6 (4f, 1-0pen), F Cregg 0-3 (1f), C Daly 0-2, C Cregg 0-1. Down: C Harrison 0-2 (1f); D O'Hanlon, M Poland, B O'Hagan, P Devlin 0-1.
Roscommon - G Claffey 6; S McDermott 9, N Collins 8, N McInerney 8; C Daly 8, S Purcell 7, D Murray 7; E Smith 6, I Kilbride 8; F Cregg 9, C Murtagh 9, C Devaney 7; C Connolly 7, S Kilbride 6, C Cregg 9. Subs: R Stack 7 for Smith (half-time), N Kilroy 6 for S Kilbride (54, BC), R Daly 6 for C Cregg (59), C McHugh for Connolly (65), C Shine for I Kilbride (68), J McManus for McInerney (70).
Down - M Cunningham 8; R Boyle 6, G McGovern 6, G Collins 7; J Flynn 6, A Carr 6, D O'Hanlon 8; P Turley 7, M McKay 6; C Maginn 6, M Poland 6, R Mallon 6; C McGovern 6, C Harrison 8, B O'Hagan 6.
Subs: D O'Hare 7 for Harrison (52), N Madine 6 for O'Hagan (57), P Devlin 7 for Poland (57), D McKibbon 6 for Flynn (65), C Doyle for Maginn (68), S Kane for Cunningham (69, BC).
Ref - B Cassidy (Derry).