Fintan O’Toole reports from Newbridge
AFTER A WEEK of chaos over the choice of venue, it ended with a sea of white invading St Conleth’s Park in celebration.
Kildare made home advantage count with a strong burst for the finish line seeing them past a tiring Mayo team who just could not summon one more recovery operation in the qualifiers.
Cian O’Neill’s side dumped last year’s All-Ireland finalists out of the championship in this Round 3 tie with a merited success after a stirring second-half showing. Mayo finished with 14 men after Aidan O’Shea was shown a second yellow card and a late Andy Moran shot that flashed over the crossbar from a free, proved to be their final opportunity deep in injury-time to send this game towards extra-time.
After all the consternation this week, St Conleth’s Park was buzzing before throw-in. The fine weather helped create the sense of a big qualifier evening, the fact that the game hurtled along at a frantic pace in an opening period that yielded 18 points – ten from play – enhanced that even more.
Kildare set out with the mood of a team determined to make a mark on their home patch. They shipped the first score to Stephen Coen inside two minutes before then picking off seven of the game’s next eight points.
It was 0-3 to 0-1 in Kildare’s favour by the 7th minute, their advantage swelled to 0-7 to 0-2 by the 17th minute. Neil Flynn’s free-taking was largely excellent, Fergal Conway was punching holes from half-forward and Daniel Flynn burned the Mayo defence inside on a couple of occasions.
Mayo had been through these rocky patches before. They methodically worked their way back into contention with Aidan O’Shea planting a flag in the middle of the pitch as he dominated proceedings. Cillian O’Connor kicked three frees, Andy Moran swung over another and Paddy Durcan popped up with a pair of points.
It was 0-7 apiece after 26 minutes, a reflection of Mayo’s slick interplay prising open gaps in the Kildare defence to draw fouls or notch scores. O’Connor’s free edged Mayo in front but crucially from Kildare’s viewpoint they dug in. Paul Cribbin notched a beauty and after Diarmuid O’Connor’s point for Mayo, a free from Flynn sent the teams in at the break locked together at 0-9 apiece.
The action rocked along in the second half, both teams notching five points apiece by the 50th minute as it was tied at 0-14 each. Mayo threatened on a couple of occasions to drive clear on the scoreboard but Kildare reeled them in thanks to the scoring inspiration supplied by Neil Flynn and Paul Cribbin.
Jason Doherty notched a 52nd minute point to restore Mayo’s advantage but it was the last time they would be in front. Kildare went 0-17 to 0-15 clear by the 58th minute and were 0-19 to 0-18 to the good in the 65th minute.
Mayo would come again to cut the gap to one through the outstanding Paddy Durcan but a Neil Flynn free and an Eamonn Callaghan effort from play would confirm Kildare’s passage to the next stage.
Scorers for Kildare: Neil Flynn 0-8 (0-6f, 0-1 ’45), Paul Cribbin 0-4, Kevin Feely, Daniel Flynn 0-2 each, Peter Kelly, Johnny Byrne, Fergal Conway, Niall Kelly, Eamonn Callaghan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-6 (0-5f, 0-1 ’45), Paddy Durcan 0-4, Andy Moran 0-3 (0-1f), Jason Doherty 0-2, Diarmuid O’Connor, Stephen Coen, Kevin McLoughlin, Eoin O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
1. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
2. Chris Barrett (Belmullet)
3. Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites)
7. Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
5. Lee Keegan (Westport)
4. Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis)
6. Colm Boyle (Davitts)
8. Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)
11. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy)
10. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
13. Jason Doherty (Burrishoole)
9. Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore)
12. James Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
14. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber – captain)
15. Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen)
20. Eoin O’Donoghue (Belmullet) for Boyle (56)
25. Donal Vaughan (Castlebar Mitchels) for James Durcan (58)
24. Conor Loftus (Crossmolina) for Doherty (68)
26. Cian Hanley (Ballaghaderreen) for McLoughlin (black card) (70)
1. Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)
4. Mick O’Grady (Celbridge)
3. David Hyland (Athy)
2. Peter Kelly (Two Mile House)
5. Johnny Byrne (Allenwood)
6. Eoin Doyle (Naas – captain)
7. Kevin Flynn (Celbridge)
8. Kevin Feely (Athy)
9. Tommy Moolick (Leixlip)
12. Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
11. Paul Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
10. Fergal Conway (Celbridge)
13. Neil Flynn (Maynooth)
14. Daniel Flynn (Johnstownbridge)
15. Paddy Brophy (Celbridge)
19. David Slattery (Confey) for Keith Cribbin (48)
20. Chris Healy (Two Mile House) for Brophy (52)
17. Niall Kelly (Athy) for Moolick (55)
18. James Murray (Moorefield) for Byrne (68)
23. Eamonn Callaghan (Naas) for Doyle (70)
Referee: David Gough (Meath)