Friday 24 November 2017

O'Flaherty strikes late to see off Laois

Kildare 1-13
Laois 1-11

Kildare have already shown their ability to snatch a result at the death on a couple of occasions this year, most recently when full-back Mick Foley grabbed an equalising goal in Ballybofey last week.

They did it again at St Conleth's Park yesterday against local rivals Laois, coming from a point down with just over five minutes remaining to win by two.

Rob Kelly landed the equaliser and the sides were still level until Eoghan O'Flaherty had his say with two pointed frees in quick succession to secure the honours and puncture Laois' 100pc record.

Neither was easy but the Carbury man made no mistake, even though he hadn't managed to get on the scoreboard up to that stage. What's more, he converted the first in the 69th minute from a tight angle on the right with his left boot, before rifling over from all of 55 metres with his right boot less than 60 seconds later.


Kieran McGeeney -- no doubt pleased to get one over on his good friend Justin McNulty -- called it a "decent performance" given that he couldn't call on the likes of Johnny Doyle, Eamonn Callaghan, Dermot Earley and David Whyte.

"We didn't get all the scores we should have for the possession, but from a mental point of view I thought it was a good win. They dug deep and used their brains in the last five minutes to get the vital scores.

"Laois were hard to break down and we kicked away a lot of possession for 10 minutes, but they began to play more intelligent football and it paid off."

Kildare had a point on the board after 20 seconds from Kelly, but Colm Begley found the net for Laois in the fourth minute after a strong run, taking a pass from the brilliant Ross Munnelly after the Arles-Kilcruise man had swept past Brian Flanagan. Begley gave Shane Connolly no chance with a powerful shot.

White and Flynn had the teams level within a couple of minutes, though, as Kildare fed their inside men with quality ball. As Laois got on top in the centre, though, that supply became more speculative and Kevin Meaney swept up the high balls.

What's more, Munnelly in particular began to have some joy, having initially begun with a roaming role. Once he reverted inside, he kicked two excellent points and fisted another, while Michael John Tierney added a brace, including a wonderful score from play.

Laois were five points clear and good value for it before the hard-working Ronan Sweeney converted a 24th-minute free -- Kildare's first score in 18 minutes. He added two more points, but Laois still led 1-7 to 0-7 at half-time.

They resumed in determined fashion and when Munnelly got around Ollie Lyons and finished after a strong run from Robert Kehoe, there were four points between the sides again.

Kildare had an outrageous stroke of fortune in the 45th minute when James Kavanagh's shot was brilliantly saved by Michael Nolan, but the rebound hit the retreating Denis Booth and trickled into the net.

Within seconds, Keith Cribbin had equalised but Laois were in front again entering the final five minutes after Darren Strong blazed over when put through by John O'Loughlin with only Connolly to beat.

He was punished for not taking the goal when Kelly equalised before O'Flaherty struck late on to secure the points for Kildare.

"We got a wee bit of luck with the goal," McGeeney admitted. "It was a fantastic save and the defender probably didn't see it coming but I'll take it. We don't get much of it."

Man of the Match: Ross Munnelly (Laois).

SCORERS -- Kildare: R Sweeney 0-4 (0-3fs), J Kavanagh 1-0, R Kelly, D Flynn, E O'Flaherty (0-2fs) 0-2 each, G White, K Cribbin, E Bolton 0-1 each. Laois: R Munnelly 0-5, M Tierney 0-3(2fs), C Begley 1-0, D Strong 0-2, J O'Loughlin 0-1.

Kildare -- S Connolly 7; H McGrillen 7, M Foley 8, O Lyons 5; G White 8, B Flanagan 6, E Bolton 7; H Lynch 5, P O'Neill 7; E O'Flaherty 7, R Sweeney 8, F Dowling 7; K Cribbin 7, R Kelly 7, D Flynn 8. Subs: J Kavanagh 6 for Lynch (26); A Smith 6 for Dowling (59); M O'Flaherty 6 for Bolton (61).

Laois -- M Nolan 8; R Kehoe 7, K Meaney 8, D Booth 7; D Strong 8, S Julian 7, C Healy 6; P Clancy 7, C Begley 7; N Donoher 6, J O'Loughlin 7, D Carroll 5; R Munnelly 9, B Sheehan 6, MJ Tierney 6. Subs: G Kavanagh 6 for Carroll (31); P O'Leary 6 for Healy (50); M Timmons 6 for Sheehan (67).

REF --J McQuillan (Cavan)

Irish Independent

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