Kildare leapfrog Meath in Division 2 table, leaving Royals facing possibility of Tailteann Cup

Allianz NFL Division 2 Rd 7 Kildare 0-13, Meath 0-8

26 March 2023; Mick O'Grady of Kildare is fouled by Diarmuid Moriarty of Meath during the Allianz Football League Division 2 match at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, Kildare. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

Kildare leapfrogged Meath in the Division 2 placings with a comfortable win at Newbridge, a result that could yet leave the Royals looking at Tailteann Cup football unless they reach a provincial final.

With Darragh Kirwan in impressive scoring form, the Lilywhites safely preserved a five-point internal lead when playing with the breeze in the second half.

Meath, who started the league with two wins, scoring goals and playing an exciting brand of football, were lamentably poor in what was the final match at St Conleth’s Park before it undergoes a €16million redevelopment. When complete, the venue will have a 12,000 capacity.

Meath had to start without the injured Donal Keogan, a loss to an inexperienced defence. Keogan’s absence meant he missed his first outing after playing 82 consecutive league and championship matches. Aaron Lynch got a first start in attack as Meath looked to bounce back after a comprehensive home defeat to Dublin.

But in the first half, Kirwan scored three points from play and won a free for Jack Robinson that put Kildare 0-8 to 0-3 up at the interval. Meath didn’t score until the 21st minute, a Jack Flynn free, and waited until the 28th minute to score from play through Cillian O’Sullivan.

At half time, they took off full-back Michael Flood, one of the younger players in their backline, and placed Adam O’Neill on Kirwan, who was less influential after the break but still kicked two more points, one from a free.

The game was decided in the opening 15 minutes of the second half when Kildare kicked three more points without reply from Robinson, Paul Cribbin and Kirwan to open an eight-point lead.

In a dull match, neither side threatened to score a goal and while Donal Lenihan kicked four second-half frees, Meath were unable to pose any serious threat, Kildare finishing their campaign on a positive note after securing their tier 2 status last weekend with a win over Limerick.

Both sides are in championship action in four weeks.

Scorers – Kildare: D Kirwan 0-5 (1f); J Robinson 0-3 (1m, 2fs); P Woodgate 0-2 (fs); J Hyland (f), D Hyland, P Cribben 0-1 each. Meath: D Lenihan 0-4 (4fs); C O’Sullivan, J Flynn (f), R Jones, M Costello (f) 0-1 each.

Kildare – M Donnellan; M O’Grady, S Ryan, R Houlihan; D Hyland, K Flynn, J Sargent; A Masterson, K O’Callaghan; B Coffey, B McCormack, A Beirne; J Robinson, D Kirwan, P Woodgate. Subs: Paul Cribbin for Beirne (ht); D Flynn for Robinson & J Hyland for Woodgate (51); K Feely for Masterson (53); P McDermott for Coffey (64).

Meath – H Hogan; A O’Neill, M Flood, H O’Higgins; R Ryan, P Harnan, E Harkin; R Jones, D McGowan; J Flynn, M Costello, J Scully; A Lynch, D Moriarty, C O’Sullivan. Subs: D Lenihan for Lynch (inj 29); C Hickey for Harkin (32); J O’Connor for Flood (ht); Thomas O‘Reilly for O’Sullivan (47); K Curtis for Moriarty (60).

Ref – John Gilmartin (Sligo).