Saturday 16 December 2017

Kildare U21s book place in Leinster final as Cork and Kerry set up Munster showdown

Kildare U21s 1-16 1-03 Westmeath

16 March 2016; Con Kavanagh, Kildare, in action against Daire Conway, Westmeath. EirGrid Leinster GAA Football U21 Championship, Semi-Final, Westmeath v Kildare, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
16 March 2016; Con Kavanagh, Kildare, in action against Daire Conway, Westmeath. EirGrid Leinster GAA Football U21 Championship, Semi-Final, Westmeath v Kildare, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Michale Verney

A SPARKLING attacking display helped Kildare cruise into the Leinster U-21 final after dismantling a disappointing Westmeath side in O’Moore, Park, Portlaoise tonight.

Led by a lethal full-forward trio of Ben McCormack, Chris Healy and Neil Flynn, which fired 1-12 between them over the hour, The Lilywhites never looked in any great danger and coasted to a deserved 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 Con Kavanagh firing over in the fourth minute before Chris Healy and Neil Flynn (free) had them three points up after 10 minutes as the direct-running of Bryan Murphy’s side was piercing holes in the Westmeath defence.

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 Jack Quinn in the 17th minute ignited their charge, their first score of the game, 0-7 to 1-0.

Paddy Fagan quickly followed up with a magnificent solo effort as the Westmeath support came to voice, sensing a glimmer of hope for their side. McCormack settled his side with blazing over but Emmet McDonnell’s side responded with a score from Darren Giles.

In the build-up, a log-range free from Giles nearly went all the way to the net after being misjudged by goalkeeper Declan Campbell but Kildare responded strongly before the break with Flynn stroking over a free after Ryan Houlihan made one of many rampaging runs forward, 0-9 to 1-2.

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, gradually 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 Kevin Fagan.

Sub Cein McMonagle sent over a super score after a probing run before Kildare’s inside line got just rewards for their tireless work with Neil Flynn firing home a free and a penalty to finish proceedings with a flourish.

scorers – Kildare: N Flynn 1-5 (4f, 1-0 pen), B McCormack 0-4, C Healy and C Kavanagh 0-3 each, C McMonagle 0-1, Westmeath: J Quinn 1-0, D Giles, P Fagan and 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 McMonagkle 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)

Other results

Munster U21FC semi-final
Cork 3-18
Waterford 0-2

Munster U21FC semi-final
Kerry 1-14
Limerick 2-8

Ulster U21FC quarter-final
Monaghan 1-15
Fermanagh 0-3

Ulster U21FC quarter-final
Armagh 5-16
Down 0-9

Ulster U21FC quarter-final
Tyrone 2-10
Cavan 0-10

Ulster U21FC quarter-final
Donegal 0-14
Derry 2-7

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