Kildare 1-13 -
THE temperatures had been low all day and it felt like they were plummeting further as Kildare and Wexford struggled to show much appetite for a meaningless contest that seemed decided with 20 minutes to go.
Kildare were 12-5 clear and if the referee could have called a halt then and sent everyone back in from the cold, there would have been few complaints. But oh my, what we would have missed.
Up to that point there had been 17 scores and not a whole lot to get excited about. For the final 14 minutes, there was at least one score every two minutes and just when we got to injury time, we were treated to a brace of goals and a couple of red cards. For a game that generally lacked any penetration, the pandemonium at the finish caught everyone by surprise.
Of course the result didn’t matter much but it was exciting all the same. It was riveting for the home support to snatch a win with a goal in the 73rd minute just when it looked like their second half sleepwalk had led them to defeat. Normally when you wake up, it’s to discover these kind of dreamlike victories were figments of your imagination.
Instead there was Morgan O’Flaherty all on his own on the edge of the square, coolly rounding the keeper and slotting the winning goal the way every young boy has imagined at some stage. Okay, the prize for the score has always been greater in our dreams of youth, but sometimes any dream will do. We got a whole lot more than we bargained for and maybe, just maybe we caught a glimpse of the kind of team Kildare might become in 2013.
On heavy ground, it was heavy going for most of the game but there were a couple of moments that raised the pulse in a way that enthralled the natives. There was something audacious about the move that almost led to a John Doyle goal in the 58th minute and there was the same, fleeting brilliance about the movements that led to his point in the 54th minute. There was certainly something different about Kildare in the patterns of play that created those moments.
Those are the important things to take from a pre-season tournament that will now almost certainly occupy Kildare minds until right before the start of the league against Donegal. Next up are an Offaly side that the Lilies should have too much for, especially with competition for places so strong even this early in the season.
Once more the new faces impressed, particularly Cathal McNally while Michael Konstantin, Paddy Brophy, Daniel Flynn and James Eaton all did well.
However it was the team veteran who usurped all the young guns up front. John Doyle opened the scoring after just 15 seconds and finished the game with seven points, four from play. Remarkably he also played the full 70 minutes and was the one winning the vital ball that led to O’Flaherty’s winning goal in injury-time. The newcomers can be in no doubt about the standard that must be met.
On the whole defences dominated a dour opening 35 minutes after Doyle’s early point promised bright things. The game quickly settled into a predictable, conservative pattern as packed defences lay deep to swallow up the opposition’s attacking forays.
With Kildare opting to stick with three men in their full-forward line while withdrawing their half-forwards to midfield, it was clear that turnovers and quick, accurate deliveries would be essential to their attack flourishing. While the defence did their job on the turnover front, quick ball was the harder part of the equation given the conditions. It meant that congestion was unavoidable each time either side attacked and the result was just four points from play – two apiece.
Kildare led narrowly at the break, 5-4, but they moved up a gear in the third quarter. Mikey Conway nailed a long-range free two minutes after to restart to begin a spell of six unanswered points in nine minutes. With a 12-5 cushion by the 54th minute, there seemed little left to play for.
Wexford thought otherwise and the introduction of Redmond Barry proved a major tonic as he kicked two frees and orchestrated a rejuvenated attack. Slowly but surely at first, and then very quickly, Wexford reeled in the deficit to leave just two between the sides a minute beyond regulation.
One minute later, the comeback was better than complete. Shane Roche recycled a nothing ball on the endline and fashioned an unlikely goal that gave his side the lead. Kildare fans could hardly believe what they were seeing and they were probably still in a state of shock when Kildare came forward to net a goal in response. James Eaton’s brilliant pass to the unmarked Morgan O’Flaherty set up a dramatic winner before all hell broke loose on the 13-metre line as Adrian Morrissey rushed to take his kick-out.
For their part in the rowdy scenes that developed, Emmet Bolton and Wexford’s Graeme Molloy picked up red cards having clocked a second yellow apiece. After one final Wexford attack, the final whistle sounded – Kildare fans more than happy to have another outing this weekend.
KILDARE: Shane Connolly; Eoin Doyle, Michael Foley, Hugh McGrillen; Emmet Bolton 0-1, Mikey Conway 0-3 (2fs, 1 45), Peter Kelly; Gary White, Hugh Lynch; Brian Flanagan, Cathal McNally 0-2, Morgan O’Flaherty 1-0; John Doyle 0-7 (3fs), Paddy Brophy, Daniel Flynn. Subs: Robbie Eyers for Connolly, 27-35, blood; Padraig O’Neill for Lynch, h/t; Michael Konstantin for Kelly, h/t; James Eaton for Flynn, 53; Padraig Fogarty for Brophy, 53; Eoghan O’Flaherty for McNally, 59;
WEXFORD: Adrian Morrissey 0-1f; Joey Wadding, Graeme Molloy, Sean Culleton; David Murphy, Aindreas Doyle, Brian Malone; Daithi Waters, Craig Doyle 0-1; Conor Carty 0-1f, Paddy Byrne, Kevin Gore 0-1; Shane Roche 1-2 (1f), Killian Kehoe, PJ Banville 0-3 (2fs). Subs: Redmond Barry 0-2fs for Kehoe, h/t; Paudie Kelly for Carty, 49; John Leacy for Byrne, 55; Sean Gaule for Gore, 61; Rory Quinlivan for Doyle, 70
REF: Maurice Deegan (Laois)