Saturday 18 November 2017

Lilies lacking killer instinct

Kildare 0-13
Sligo 0-4

Kildare boss Kieran McGeeney is still searching for that magic bullet that could transform his side into genuine All-Ireland contenders.

The Lilywhites frustrated their fans at Hyde Park last night with another performance soaked in promise but so sadly lacking in conviction. A nine-point success is no more than any manager would wish for at this stage of the championship season, but this Round 4 Qualifier win was less than inspiring.

Yes, they did completely snuff out Sligo's attacking threat, but they failed to drive home the advantage in a manner which will shorten their odds for All-Ireland success.

It's been something of a struggle for McGeeney's men since their Leinster Championship assault was ambushed by Meath. Almost derailed by Limerick, they managed to recover sufficient composure to get over the line last night.

Kildare, with a strong wind at their backs from the town end, were three points up inside the opening four minutes, Alan Smith, Robert Kelly and Tomas O'Connor all finding the target with almost embarrassing ease.

With Michael Foley fetching with conviction in the middle and centre-back Morgan O'Flaherty pushing forward at every opportunity, the Yeatsmen were fighting a losing battle against the power and pace of the Lilywhites. Eoghan O'Flaherty powered over a couple of frees, one of them from 50 metres, and they had half a dozen points on the board before Sligo's first attack earned them a point, David Maye converting a free from 45 metres.

Sligo did have a bright spell late in the first half, but could only two Adrian Marren frees. Nevertheless, Kildare had lost their way, having scored just two points in the 25 minutes preceding half-time. An 0-8 to 0-3 interval lead was less than comfortable, given the strength of the breeze.

O'Flaherty did thump a free between the posts after 12 minutes of wasted endeavour, and Lilywhite fans began to breath a little more easily when Eoin Doyle pushed forward to kick a neat point.

Emmet Bolton then blazed over the bar when he really should have had a goal.

Sligo's failure to make any use of the wind advantage saw them grow increasingly frustrated. Charlie Harrison received a straight red card in the 65th minute for an elbow on Johnny Doyle and their only score of the second half came in stoppage-time from sub Eamonn O'Hara.

Scorers -- Kildare: E O'Flaherty 0-4 (4f), M Conway (2f), A Smith 0-2 each, T O'Connor, J Kavanagh, R Kelly, E Bolton, E Doyle; Sligo: A Marren 0-2 (2f), D Maye (f), E O'Hara 0-1 each.

Kildare: S Connolly; O Lyons, P Kelly, H McGrillen; E Bolton, M O'Flaherty, E Doyle; M Foley, R Kelly; E O'Flaherty, M Conway, A Smith; J Doyle, T O'Connor, J Cavanagh. Subs: P O'Neill for Kelly (55), D Earley for Foley (61), E Callaghan for E O'Flaherty, S Johnston for J Doyle, G White for Bolton (69).

Sligo: P Greene; N Ewing, J Martyn, R Donovan; C Harrison, M Quinn, P McGovern; E Mullan, T Taylor; M Breheny, D Maye, S Coen; A Costello, A Marren, D Kelly. Subs: P Hughes for Kelly (h-t), S McManus for Mullan (44), E O'Hara for Coen (53), K Cawley for Costello (57), B Egan for Breheny (57).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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