Aided by a strong wind in the second half, Kildare used it to their advantage to defeat Longford by six points in the Hastings Cup U-21 Football Tournament Round 2 game at the Hawkfield Centre of Excellence in Newbridge on Friday night last.
It was atrocious conditions for both sides with swirling wind and driving rain. Longford had started the game brightly and created two goal chances in the first half but Kildare defended well and playing direct ball into the forward line they went in at the break on level terms.
The home county dominated the second half and although Longford had chances to get more scores on the board, they only managed to register a solitary point on the changeover.
Francis McNamee’s side were dealt a blow before the start of the game with David McGivney not able to start due to injury while Liam Connerton was another absentee. In the first half they also lost Liam Sullivan through injury while Rory Connor went off injured right at the end.
Larry Moran opened the scoring in the 5th minute when he pointed a free while Kildare then went close when Chris Canning’s effort came off the post.
Longford then created a goal chance but some great defending denied Killian Farrell as the ball was deflected out for a ’45. In the 9th minute Longford had another goal opportunity when Farrell played in a good ball to Dessie Reynolds but Kildare defender John Costello put in a good block to deny the Sean Connolly’s lad from finding the back of the net.
One minute later, Longford went three points up when Liam Sullivan curled over a lovely point. Kildare eventually opened their account in the 11th minute when Wayne Fitzpatrick pointed over a free.
A good point from Dessie Reynolds in the 16th minute restored Longford’s three point advantage but Kildare closed the gap to the minimum following a brace of points (play) in quick succession from Wayne Fitzpatrick.
Killian Farrell put two between the sides in the 23rd minute when he pointed a free but then Kildare enjoyed a purple patch and in the 25th minute levelled through Chris Canning. One minute later they took the lead through David Fitzpatrick.
Rory Connor then drew Longford level as the sides went in at the break 0-6 apiece. That was the closest the teams were to be as Kildare made good use of the wind in the second half and Longford just could not find a way back into the game.
Shane O’Rourke put Kildare in front with a minute gone on the changeover and their lead was quickly extended to three points. Longford replied with a free converted by Larry Moran in the 37th minute for what proved to be their only score in the second half.
O’Rourke slotted over a free in the 38th minute and further points from O’Rourke and Canning extended Kildare’s lead to five points by the 40th minute.
Longford made changes as they struggled to create chances and Kildare got the last score of the game when David O’Neill shot over the bar in the 48th minute.
Longford had a few chances late on but failed to find the target as they suffered a disappointing defeat but could still qualify for the Hastings Cup semi-final, providing they topple Tipperary (winners over Kildare in Round 1) at Dr. Morris Park in Thurles on Saturday next.
KILDARE: David McNamara; Eoin Cummins, Darren Maguire, TJ Gordon; John Costello, Pascal Connell, David O’Neill (0-1); Liam Power, Ryan Moore; Tom Gibbons, David Fitzpatrick (0-1), Wayne Fitzpatrick (0-3, 1 free); Shane O’Rourke (0-5, 3 frees), Declan Flaherty, Chris Canning (0-3).
Subs:- Cian McMonagle for D Flaherty (53 mins); Ryan Houlihan for T Gibbons (58 mins); Mark Noble for C Canning (60 mins); Chris Fenner for W Fitzpatrick (60 mins).
LONGFORD: David Shannon (Carrickedmond); Cian Farrelly (Killoe Emmet Og), Andrew Farrell (Cashel), Anthony McBrien (Abbeylara); Rory Connor (Kenagh, 0-1), Mattie Gorman (Ballymore), Liam Sullivan (St. Mary’s Granard, 0-1); Andrew Dalton (Longford Slashers), Fergal Sheridan (Colmcille, 0-1,’45); Ross McNerney (Dromard), Paddy Kiernan (Killoe Emmet Og), Emmet Noonan (Fr. Manning Gaels); Larry Moran (Killoe Emmet Og, 0-2, frees), Killian Farrell (Ardagh St. Patrick’s, 0-1, free), Dessie Reynolds (Sean Connolly’s, 0-1).
Subs:- Conor Shields (Clonguish) for L Sullivan (injured, 25 mins); Nigel Rabbitte (Abbeylara) for P Kiernan (41 mins); Vinny Hourican (Colmcille) for F Sheridan (43 mins); Martin Mulligan (Colmcille) for M Gorman (52 mins); Gavin Kelly (Cashel) for R Connor (injured, 59 mins).
Referee: Fergal Smyth