Lilywhites cruise but officials in the mire
Kildare 2-24 Longford 0-11
Controversy dotted the second half as referee Derek O'Mahoney seemed to send off a Longford player incorrectly and two minutes later overturned a decision to award them a penalty. But it will only disguise Kildare's brilliance.
Apart from a 10-minute spell midway through the first half, Kildare were fluid up front, tight at the back and extremely disciplined.
Playing with the aid of a strong wind in a sodden Cusack Park, they easily worked a 0-8 to 0-1 lead after 21 minutes, but Eamonn Callaghan's goal in first-half added time all but ended Longford's chances.
By the time Longford's Diarmuid Masterson was shown yellow, then red in the 48th minute, Kildare were out of sight with a 1-16 to 0-7 lead. Mayhem ensued.
Alan Smith goaled a minute later to bury Longford, Paul Cribbin had just been black carded for a third-man tackle a minute earlier, and 60 seconds after the goal, O'Mahoney awarded Jack Sheedy's side a penalty - it looked a generous call - but he correctly reversed his decision on the advice of his umpires.
On first viewing, it seemed as if O'Mahoney was eventually correct in every call - apart from the sending off.
Officials confirmed afterwards that Masterson - for the second week in a row - was sent off for two yellow card offences and to be fair, in the horrific first-half conditions it would have been very easy to incorrectly note the booking of a player. Sheedy was fuming.
"It was a disgrace, an out-and-out disgrace. There was no yellow card to begin with," Sheedy said.
"The linesman, I asked him after the game and I asked him at the time why Diarmuid Masterson was sent off and he said because it was violent conduct or something to that effect.
"There was no violent conduct, Diarmuid Masterson went into separate guys, it was obvious, as plain as the nose on your face and he made a bad call on that. It is disappointing but we all make mistakes."
Without doubt, last weekend's controversial Munster Final penalty incident affected the way this game was refereed - and correctly so.
Longford were awarded a penalty as Brian Kavanagh found his way to the turf, but it looked very soft.
As is his prerogative, O'Mahoney first awarded the penalty, then spoke to his umpires, before he reversed the decision. The Longford boss wondered if the Cork-Kerry game was in his mind.
"He gave the penalty. He waved it and then he changed his mind. Was he thinking about the game last weekend? He was fairly adamant when he went in and made the decision, I'll say that," said Sheedy.
"And surely if it wasn't a penalty it was free. And then he threw the ball up. He double-whammied his decision in the first place. They are the breaks you get and you don't get when you are under pressure and on the back foot, and you are going to have to live with it."
Either side of that crazy five minutes, Kildare dominated. Cribbin was untouchable at midfield and his four points from play were excellent.
Niall Kelly kicked a couple of great scores and was the perfect playmaker as he eased his way back to fitness, while Emmet Bolton once again set the standard for the Lilywhites with an excellent display of defensive skills and attacking instincts.
For the Kildare manager, it is another step away from their Leinster semi-final hammering to Dublin.
They were 19 points better than Longford on the day and Jason Ryan admitted he was happy with the performance.
Whoever they are pitted against in this morning's draw will face a confident opponent with consecutive wins in the bag.
"We are in the 11th of July and we are still playing and that is vital," said Ryan. "We have got two wins on the trot and it is our first time to get two wins on the trot since the month of January. So it is something that we have needed badly.
"The week before the Offaly game was incredibly tough in so many different ways. For the players they have found it very, very hard.
"We are further ahead down the line from that so you would expect their execution and frame of mind would have improved somewhat."
Scorers - Kildare: E O'Flaherty 0-5 (4f), P Cribbin 0-4, A Smith, E Callaghan 1-1, M Conway 0-3 (3f), M Donnellan (2'45), P O'Neill, N Kelly 0-2, M Sherry, O Lyons, E Bolton, C McNally 0-1. Longford: B Kavanagh 0-7 (5f), L Connerton, R McEntire, R Connor, D Reynolds 0-1.
Kildare - M Donnellan 8; C Fitzpatrick 6, M O'Grady 7, O Lyons 7; K Murnaghan 8, E Doyle 8, E Bolton 8; T Moolick 7, P Cribbin 9; P O'Neill 7, E O'Flaherty 7, C McNally 7; N Kelly 8, A Smith 7, E Callaghan 8. Subs: M Sherry 8 for O'Neill (22 BC), H Lynch 6 for Cribbin (49 BC), M Conway 7 for Callaghan (56), P Kelly 7 for Doyle (58), P Fogarty 6 for Smith (60), C O'Donoghue for Bolton (66).
Longford - P Collum 5; F Battrim 6, B Gilleran 6, C Farrelly 6 ; CP Smyth 5, B O'Farrell 6, D Masterson 6; M Quinn 6, K Diffley 5; S Doyle 7, R McEntire 7, D Reynolds 7; R Connor 7, B Kavanagh 7, L Connerton 7. Subs: D Brady 6 for Smyth (25), P Foy 5 for Diffley (45), P Gill 5 for Doyle for (56), T Gallagher 5 for Battrim (59), R McNerney 5 for Connor (63).
Ref - Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary).
GAME AT A GLANCE
MAN OF THE MATCH
Paul Cribbin (Kildare)
In desperate conditions Cribbin stood out in the first half. His three points before the break came from varying distances and angles, while he was a constant link-man.
The sending-off will grab the headlines. Longford say Diarmuid Masterson was only booked once, but the referee sent him off for two yellow-card offences. Take your pick.
Alan Smith’s goal was class. Mark Sherry’s run destroyed Longford. He lost control at the end but a clever flick made the score.
It was a tough day for Derek O’Mahoney. Other than the sending-off he was good. Made an error in that decision, but was not embarrassed to overturn his penalty decision on the advice of his umpire.
Kildare 8 (6 first half)
Longford 10 (6)
Kildare 17 (9 first half)
Longford 14 (10)
Kildare 2 (1 first half)
Longford 0 (0)
Kildare 0 (0)
Longford 3 (1)
Kildare take on either Westmeath,
Cork or Kerry in the last 12, while
Longford reflect on a yo-yo season.