A ruthless Kildare side easily brushed aside the weak challenge of Longford with 23 points to spare in the second round of the Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup in testing fog and misty conditions at Newtowncashel last Wednesday night.
Kildare’s potent forward line gave the Longford defence a torrid time throughout with the impressive Eoghan O’Flaherty, who chipped in with 0-7, orchestrating the show.
After opening the competition with an encouraging 1-19 to 2-7 victory over Carlow the previous Sunday in Dr Cullen Park, this was a harsh dose of reality for new Longford manager Jack Sheedy and his experimental side to swallow.
O’Byrne Cup holders Kildare, also under the stewardship of a new manager in Jason Ryan, totally outclassed their hosts and they maintained their excellent score rate - they registered 4-24 and conceded just 0-12 in the opening round of the competition against AIT.
Fitness was not just the difference between the sides; Kildare put away the chances that came their way while Longford kicked a lot of wasteful wides in the first half - they kicked four balls into Kildare keeper Shane Connolly’s hands and Paul McKeon’s fisted goalbound effort in the 18th minute just went narrowly wide.
The Lilywhites found the back of the net with their first attack in the 5th minute; Paul Cribbin’s effort was half blocked down and the loose ball was picked up by Padraig Fogarty who shot home.
They then tagged on three points in a row before Cathal McNally forced Damien Sheridan into making a fine save in the 10th minute. Robbie Dunne then fired over a point to extend their lead to 7 points, 1-4 to nil.
Longford’s first point came in the 11th minute through Paul McKeon but Kildare replied with three more points. Longford created chances but Connolly was able to gather. In the 18th minute Brian Kavanagh’s perfect ball found McKeon and unfortunately the Colmcille man fisted the ball wide.
O’Flaherty followed up with two points (one free) before Longford got their second point through Cian Mimnagh in the 30th minute. Dunne and Thomas Moolick added on two more points to give Kildare a 12 point lead going in at the break, 1-11 to 0-2.
Jason Ryan’s charges didn’t let up with the scoring after the break. Longford had a chance to register the first score of the second half but missed the target. Dunne fired over the first point of the half in the 41st minute and then O’Flaherty hit over another free.
Padraig Gill got Longford’s third point before Kavanagh fired over another point; he could’ve shot low for a goal.
Kildare though went on the attack again and points from Cathal McNally and O’Flaherty
either side of a Mikey Conway goal gave them a 17 point lead with 50 minutes elapsed, 2-15 to 0-4.
If Longford were hoping for damage limitation it didn’t happen for them; Conway added a point and then O’Flaherty fired over his 6th and 7th points.
Longford’s only response was two points from Kavanagh (one free). His score in the 65th minute was to be their last of a miserable outing - 0-6 to 2-18.
In the space of a minute Kildare substitute Darroch Mulhall added a goal and a point to
his side’s tally and then Moolick completed the scoring for rampant Kildare one minute from time with a well taken point.
Longford: Damien Sheridan; Daniel Keogh, Fergal Battrim, Aidan Rowan; Gerard Farrell, Fergal Reilly, Gerard Smith; Kevin Diffley, John Keegan; Brian Farrell, Diarmuid Cooney, Padraig Gill (0-1); Paul McKeon (0-1), Brian Kavanagh (0-3,0-1 free), Cian Mimnagh (0-1).
Subs used: Colm P. Smyth for Smith (21 mins), Peter Brady for G Farrell (half-time), Shane Doyle for Farrell and Ronan McEntire for Gill (46 mins), Simon Kiernan for Diffley (49 mins), Shane Cox for Keogh (59 mins).
Kildare: Shane Connolly; Mick O’Grady, Michael Foley, Joe Kinahan; Kevin Murnaghan, Fergal Conway, Paul Cribbin; Gary White, Thomas Moolick (0-2); Conor Canning, Eoghan O’Flaherty (0-7,2f), Cathal McNally (0-2); Conor Murphy (0-2), Robbie Dunne (0-3), Padraig Fogarty (1-2).
Subs used: Conor Tiernan for Cribbin and Mikey Conway (1-1) for Murphy (46 mins), Hugh Lynch for Conway (52 mins), Darrach Mulhall (1-1) for Dunne (57 mins), Michael Konstantin for O’Grady (61 mins), Sean Campbell for Kinahan (63 mins).
Referee: Niall Ward