Kildare bounce back from Dublin defeat by dishing out hammering of their own against Antrim
Antrim 0-14 Kildare 1-25
Kildare's footballers recovered from their Dublin hangover in fine style with an impressive 14-point win over Antrim at a sun-soaked Corrigan Park, Belfast, in the second round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers.
Leading by 0-13 to 0-6 at the break, a Fergal Conway goal five minutes after the restart put paid to Antrim's slim hopes of victory and Kildare will most definitely be a team to be avoided in Monday morning's qualifier draw.
The Lillywhites were in control from the start and opened the scoring through Neil Flynn. An Adam Tyrell brace ensured a 0-3 to no score lead for the visitors after eight minutes while Antrim got off the mark through Stephen Beatty who fisted over Kevin Quinn's long range delivery.
Paddy McBride then put the minimum between the sides before Mick O'Grady and James McAuley exchanged points. Kildare then enjoyed a period of dominance, adding six unanswered points, the pick of which came from Kevin Feely from distance on the 22 minute mark.
The game's first effort on goal came a minute later when Keith Gribbin bore down on the Antrim goal but his shot was well blocked by Paddy Gallagher. Antrim brought the gap back to five with three unanswered scores – McBride's second of the day sandwiched between two Ryan Murray frees, but sub Jimmy Hyland and Flynn both added points before the short whistle to leave the half time score 0-13 to 0-6 in favour of the Lillywhites.
Matt Fitzpatrick cut the gap just after the restart but a patient Kildare build-up resulted in Hyland's second of the day. Conor Murray again reduced the gap but a Kildare goal looked on the cards when Flynn fired over on 39 minutes.
A minute later Conway latched on to a poor Antrim kickout and clinically punished the home side by raising the first and only green flag of the day with an unstoppable shot to the top right hand corner of Padraig Nugent's net.
The game noticeably dropped in intensity after the goal, with Kildare at times turning on the style to lead 1-21 to 0-9 by the 51st minute. Kildare manager Cian O'Neill had the luxury of emptying his bench early on and Jason Gibbons added to Antrim's misery.
The home side, to their credit, kept battling and in McBride had a player of top quality who finished the game on 0-6. There were two late consolation chances for Antrim but Fitzpatrick watched both efforts sail over the bar.
Kildare played the last 18 minutes with 14 mean as Flynn picked up a knock after all six subs were made but it made little difference to a Kildare side that will target another Super 8s appearance at the tail end of the summer.
"I don't know many teams get beaten by Dublin and lose their next game. I think it's a ridiculous percentage, maybe 80 per cent – so it was nice to bounce back. We would rightly have been criticised in the past for playing in patches and letting teams back in but today to be fair the lads stuck to the task for large periods," said O'Neill.
"There are lots of positives but we still have lessons to learn for the next day."
SCORERS – Antrim: P McBride 0-6, M Fitzpatrick 0-3, R Murray 0-2f, J McAuley, C Murray & S Beatty 0-1 each. Kildare: N Flynn 0-8, 3f, A Tyrell 0-7, 4f, F Conway 1-2, J Hyland 0-3, K Feely 0-2, M O'Grady, J Gibbons & T Moolick 0-1 each.
TEAMS - Antrim: P Nugent; P McCormick, R Johnston, P Gallagher; D Lynch, M JOhnston, N Delargy; C Duffin, K Quinn; J McAuley, M Fitzpatrick, S Beatty; R Murray, P McBride, C Murray
Subs: E Walsh for M Johnston (ht), R Scott for S Beatty (ht), R McNulty for K Quinn (48), J Smith for R Murray (53), M McCarry for C Murray (60), F Burke for N Delargy (64)
Kildare: M Donnellan; M Dempsey, M O'Grady, P Kelly; C O'Donoghue, E Doyle, D Hyland; K Feely, F Conway; D Slattery, C Healy, K Cribben; A Tyrell, B McCormack, N Flynn
Subs: J Hyland for C Healy (14, bc), T Moolick for K Cribbin (ht), M Hyland for C O'Donoghue (42), E O'Flaherty for D Dlattery (43), C Hartley for P Kelly (54), J Gibbons for A Tyrell (57)
Ref: N Mooney (Cavan)