Kildare stunned by Carew's men
Sligo 2-15 Kildare 2-14
Division 3 of the Allianz Football League is not the setting for a Hollywood blockbuster script, but the return of former Kildare hero Niall Carew as manager of Sligo was surely tailor-made for some kind of drama.
Unbeaten, top-of-the-table Kildare facing one of their own at St Conleth's Park Newbridge, a man whose team was in the relegation zone. . . come on, cue the music, tuck into the popcorn, and sit back and watch this show.
And what a show it was.
Busy, efficient Lilywhites, grafting hard. Sligo throwing up their blanket defence, hurling bodies into contact, denying space as much as possible, looking to cause damage on the break.
Kildare seeming to have the edge as half-time loomed and then Sligo clawing back a three-point deficit to go in level at 0-7 each at the interval.
A crazy first four minutes of the second half with a goal at either end leaving the sides at 1-8 each after 39 minutes; the dismissal for a second yellow-card offence of Kildare's Adam Tyrrell in the 53rd minute; and lots more helter-skelter action before Sligo nicked a great result with one point to spare.
So what did Niall Carew make of it all? Was it a strange experience managing against his native county?
"It was. It's not a nice feeling," he said. "Somebody asked me 'was it sweet to beat Kildare?' It was sweet to get the two points. That's all that was on offer for us today. This game counts for nothing if we don't beat Limerick and Tipp.
"I'd prefer to be in Cian O'Neill's position rather than my own today. Cian might be going home very disappointed, but he's still top of the table looking down at the rest of us and we're still fighting for our lives."
In the immediate aftermath, that was scant consolation for O'Neill who wanted see his team maintain their 100pc record.
"First impressions are that it was very disappointing. We did a lot of good things but there was crucial parts of our game that let us down," he lamented.
"Sixteen turnovers is disappointing, but five turnovers directly contributed to scores for them, and the unfortunate thing is it wasn't five points, it was 2-3 and that's the killer."
Sligo's Niall Murphy scored eight of his ten points from placed balls while full-forward Pat Hughes raised two crucial white flags just before half-time.
Re-starting on level terms spurred Sligo on and helped ignite that scoring blitz early in the second half.
A Murphy point was cancelled out with a score for Kildare's Eanna O'Connor before Kyle Cawley electrified Sligo by slamming home a 38th minute goal.
Padraig O'Neill slotted in a green flag riposte for Kildare a minute later, and Eamonn Callaghan scored another on 45 minutes to put Kildare 2-9 to 1-9 ahead.
A huge effort by both sets of players ensued and Sligo finally got back level with a Cawley point in the 60th minute to make it 2-11 to 1-14.
By that stage the Lilywhites had been down to 14 men for seven minutes following Tyrrell's dismissal and it had an effect.
The turning point came on 67 minutes when Kevin McDonnell finished off a penetrating five-man attack to smash in Sligo's second goal, putting them ahead on 2-14 to 2-12.
The game went to almost 75 minutes with time added on for stoppages, but Sligo did enough to clinch a vital win.
Scorers - Sligo: N Murphy 0-10 (6fs, 2 '45s'); K Cawley 1-1; K McDonnell 1-0; P Hughes 0-2; B Egan, A McIntyre 0-1 each. Kildare: P O'Neill 1-1; E Callaghan 1-0; E O'Connor (1f), N Kelly 0-3 each; T Moolick, A Tyrrell (1f) 0-2 each; M Byrne, J Byrne, E O'Flaherty (f) 0-1 each.
Sligo - A Devaney 7; D Maye 7, K McDonnell 7, C Harrison 7; Keelan Cawley 7, Brendan Egan 7, G O'Kelly-Lynch 7; A McIntyre 7, N Murphy 8; N Ewing 7, Kyle Cawley 7; C Davey 7; C Breheny 7, P Hughes 7, Brian Egan. Subs: P Clarke for B Egan (67); D Rooney for N Gaughan (BC, 69); E McHugh for K Cawley (70); S Henry for K Cawley (BC, 73)
Kildare - M Donnellan; O Lyons, D Hyland, C Fitzpatrick; E Bolton, F Conway, E Powderly; K Feely, T Moolick; A Tyrrell, N Kelly, M Byrne; P O'Neill, E O'Connor, E Callaghan. Subs: C O'Donoghue for E Bolton (35); C McNally for M Byrne (h-t) J Byrne for F Conway (47) E O'Flaherty for E O'Connor (50); A Smith for P O'Neill (53); P Kelly for C Fitzpatrick (64)
ref - N Mooney (Cavan)