Kildare do enough to see off brave Offaly
Kildare cruised into the Leinster semi-final with a 0-19 1-12 win over Offaly in Croke Park yesterday evening.
The game went according to script for Kildare as they established a three point lead in the first half thanks to some top class kicking from both Johnny Doyle and Eoghan O’Flaherty. After a shaky start to the second half they settled into the game with their star players performing well on the big stage.
However it was Offaly’s Niall McNamee who opened the scoring with a well taken shot off his left. Within two minutes Kildare took control and worked the ball up the field, Paul Cribbin tried a quick shot at goals which was tipped over the bar for a point by Offaly goal-keeper Alan Mulhall.
Eoghan O’Flaherty doubled Kildares lead and soon after Johnny Doyle popped over his first free of the evening to make it 3-1. The opening quarter was a tight and tense affair with plenty of heated exchanges around the park.
With just over ten minutes on the clock Kildare showed their experience when O’Flaherty snuck inside the Offaly full-back line and forced their keeper to pull off his second close range save of the day tipping the ball over the bar once again. A long range point from Johnny Doyle followed and Kildare stretched their lead to 6-4.
Offaly replied with a couple of points but Doyle, O’Flaherty and debutant Niall Kelly all kicked scores for Kildare to send their side in at the break with a three point cushion.
These two sides met at the same stage of Leinster last season and Kildare ran out convincing winners on a score-line of 0-19 to 0-6 and by half-time yesterday the game looked on course to finish in similar fashion.
Kildare got on the score-sheet first in the second half with a point from Paul Cribbin to make it 11-7. Kelly added another moments later but Offaly answered with three points of their own, one from Offaly keeper Mulhall from a 45.
After 46 minutes Hawkeye was used for the first time to make on a call on a shot taken by Offaly’s Peter Cunningham which was ruled a miss.
Kildare rallied and after a flurry of well taken points were 16-10 ahead with ten minutes to go.
In the last minute Offaly’s David Hanlon was foot blocked by the Kildare keeper, he was awarded a penalty and slotted it into the net. However it wasn’t enough and Kildare ran out winners.
Although Offaly showed form in the League earning promotion to Division three the challenges Kildare faced in the top flight stood to them and their young players like Kelly and Cribbin looked right at home in Croke Park.
Kildare captain Eamonn O’Callaghan recently revealed he’s taken three months unpaid leave from the Gardai to concentrate on recovering from injury and give more time to football. Yesterday his dedication to the cause bore fruits as his side now march on. Next stop is Croke Park again on June 30 for a Leinster semi-final and chance to edge a bit closer to that elusive Leinster title.
Scorers- Kildare: P Cribbin 0-4, E O’Flaherty 0-4, J Doyle 0-6 (4f), N Kelly 0-4, S Johnston 0-1.
Offaly: N McNamee 0-4, Ken Casey 0-4 (3f), G Guilfoyle 0-1, A McNamee 0-1, A Mulhall 0-1 (’45), N Darby 0-1, D Hanlon 1-0
Kildare: M Donnellan; P Kelly, M Foley, H McGrillen; O’Lyons, E Callaghan, E Bolton; D Flynn, D Flynn; P Cribbin, N Kelly, E O’Flaherty; J Doyle, T 0′Connor, P Brophy.
Subs: F Dowling for P Brophy (46), S Johnston for O’Connor (54), M O’ Flaherty for E O’Flaherty (61), D Hyland for Bolton (64), R Kelly for D Flynn (64)
Offaly: A Mulhall; B Darby, P McConway D Brady; E Carroll, S Sullivan M Brazil; A McNamee, B Connor; G Guilfoyle, J Brickland, D Hanlon; A Sullivan, N McNamee, K Casey.
Subs: P Cunningham for E Carroll (27), N Darby for M Brazil (47), J Moloney for B Connor (51), R Allen for J Brickland (54), P McPadden for A Sullivan (56)
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare)