Lilies complete championship resurrection with demolition job
Kildare 3-20 Fermanagh 0-18
Just six weeks after enduring a humiliating loss to Carlow in Leinster, Kildare completed a spectacular comeback when they hammered Fermanagh to secure a place in the Super 8. The Lilies now have a chance to blossom for the rest of the summer, beginning next Sunday in Croke Park when they face the winners of today's Round 4 qualifier clash between Monaghan and Laois.
They will then take on Kerry a week later, and the Munster champions sent selector Mike Hassett on a spying mission - he left with ten minutes remaining!
Their third game in the series against Galway is scheduled for Newbridge on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Cian O'Neill's side have now won four games on the spin but they will be mindful of their woeful record in Croke Park - they haven't won a championship match there since 2011. But their fans among the estimated attendance of 7,000 were content as they left Navan last night.
The manager was happy too. "That's the best we've played this year, by a long shot. Defensively we were sound. Our kick-out strategy with Mark Donnellan was really on point. He had an outstanding game as our quarterback and some of our forward play was excellent. Everyone is really pushing to make something good happen here and I think we're reaping the benefits of it now."
An eighth-minute goal from Daniel Flynn, who gave another man-of-the-match performance, set the pattern for a one-sided game and with Kildare leading by leading by 11 points at the break (1-13 to 0-5), the game was effectively over.
In just the second minute Fermanagh's Ryan Jones released his midfield partner Eoin Donnelly clear inside the Kildare 'D'. He chipped the ball across Donnellan but the ball hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down suspiciously close to the goal-line. But the umpire never moved and there were no protests from the Fermanagh players. Kildare then rubbed salt in the wound by moving the ball up-field before scoring their second point through Neil Flynn.
Worse was to follow from a Fermanagh perspective when they conceded a goal after eight minutes. It was route-one football - the perfect way to beat the blanket defence. Fergal Conway brilliantly fielded Donnellan's kick-out and drove the ball directly into the Fermanagh square where Daniel Flynn won it at the second attempt, rounded Che Cullen and drove it low to the corner of the net.
When Paddy Brophy pointed in the 31st minute it meant that five of Kildare's forwards had scored from play.
Fermanagh made a positive start to the second half with a brace of points from Seamus Quigley (free) and Ruairí Corrigan but Kildare soon wrapped up the contest with a 42nd-minute goal from Neil Flynn after a delightful inter-change of passes between Fergal Conway, Tommy Moolick and Eoin Doyle.
Fermanagh outscored the winners 0-10 to 0-5 in the last 30 minutes until Kildare substitute Chris Healy scored a goal with the last kick of the game.
Scorers - Kildare: N Flynn 1-5 (3f); D Flynn 1-3; C Healy 1-2; P Brophy, K Flynn 0-2 each; P Kelly, K Feely, T Moolick, F Conway, P Cribbin, K Cribbin 0-1 each. Fermanagh: Seamus Quigley O-7 (6f); Sean Quigley 0-3; R Jones, T Corrigan 0-2 each; B Mulrone, J McMahon, D McCusker, R Corrigan 0-1 each.
Fermanagh: P Cadden; D Teague, C Cullen, M Jones; B Mulrone, J McMahon, L Cullen; E Donnelly, R Jones; T Clarke, D McCusker, A Breen; R Corrigan, C Jones, Seamus Quigley. Subs: K Connor for Teague (23), T Corrigan for Breen (32); R Lyons for C Jones (h-t); P McCusker for Clarke, and Sean Quigley for R Corrigan (45); C McGee for Mulrone (57).
Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, D Hyland, M O'Grady; J Byrne, E Doyle, K Flynn; K Feely, T Moolick ; F Conway, P Cribbin, K Cribbin; N Flynn, D Flynn, P Brophy. Subs: F Dowling for Moolick (44); C Healy for Feely (45), N Kelly for P Cribben (49), D Slattery for K Cribbin (52), E Callaghan for Flynn (55), M Hyland for N Flynn (62).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).
Sunday Indo Sport