McGeeney lauds resurgent Lilywhites
LIGHT at the end of the tunnel for Kildare boss Kieran McGeeney but a more gloomy outlook from Tipp supremo John Evans as the harsh realities of life in this division hit home at Semple Stadium on Saturday.
Following a difficult few weeks pockmarked by suspensions, injuries and an opening league defeat against Down, this was more like it from Kildare but Tipperary now face an uphill battle to avoid relegation.
Trailing by six points, 1-8 to 0-5, with 20 minutes of normal time remaining, Tipp's challenge crumpled when midfielder Hugh Coghlan was sent off. Coghlan paid the price for an off-the-ball tangle with Kildare's dominant Daryl Flynn and while Evans had no complaint with that decision, he hinted that referee Aidan Mangan's general display left a lot to be desired.
Even McGeeney accepted that Tipp had a right to quibble some of the Kerry official's calls but ultimately, Kildare never looked like losing despite the home side's battling qualities.
McGeeney admitted that a three-week break for his men will be welcomed with open arms and the March 7 meeting with Donegal can be approached with fresh optimism.
Losing Hugh McGrillen to a bruised hip and veteran Anthony Rainbow with damaged ribs were concerns for McGeeney. Rainbow lined out in an unfamiliar centre-forward position and was influential prior to coming off early in the second half. McGeeney described Flynn's contribution as "immense" while he also praised a full-back line heavily criticised of late.
Up front, James Kavanagh finished with seven points while Ken Donnelly's sixth-minute goal sent Kildare on their way. The Lilywhites led by 1-5 to 0-4 at half-time and held Tipp comfortably at arm's length in the second half, even before Coghlan's dismissal. Evans fumed: "I have no problem with Hugh being dismissed for what he did but the referee blatantly missed a foul on Hugh which caused the frustration."
Scorers -- Kildare: J Kavanagh 0-7 (4f); K Ennis 0-4 (3f); K Donnelly 1-0; P O'Neill 0-3; D Whyte (1 '45), D Earley, K Cribbin 0-1 each. Tipperary: C Sweeney 0-3 (2f); B Grogan 0-2 (1f); S Hahessy 0-2; J Cagney 0-1.
KILDARE -- S McCormack; A MacLochlainn, H McGrillen, E Bolton; M Foley, B Flanagan, M Scanlon; D Flynn, D Earley; D Whyte, A Rainbow, P O'Neill; K Ennis, K Donnelly, J Kavanagh. Subs: D Hendy for McGrillen (31 mins), R Sweeney for Rainbow (46), H Lynch for Whyte (60), K Cribbin for Foley (63), D Lyons for Bolton (65).
TIPPERARY -- M O'Donnell; C Morrissey, P Codd, C McDonald; R Costigan, N Curran, C Aylward; G Hannigan, H Coghlan; J Cagney, P Austin, P Acheson; C Sweeney, S Grogan, B Grogan. Subs: B Mulvihill for Cagney (40), B Coen for S Grogan (46), A Rockett for Austin (54), S Hahessy for B Grogan (61), C McGrath for Codd (66).
Ref -- A Mangan (Kerry).