Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Kildare's Niall Kelly gathers possession against Meath

Kildare’s Niall Kelly gathers possession against Meath

SAME roles, different team. Given their good form in the National League perhaps it was no surprise that two of Kildare’s most influential performers in Wednesday night’s under-21 championship opener were Daniel Flynn and Niall Kelly.

It was as if both men were in command of different sectors of the field: Flynn took charge between the 45s while Kelly took over whenever the play advanced into Meath territory. It was a lethal combination and Meath felt the full effect when Kelly netted in the 25th minute. Flynn had created it for him with a blistering solo run that tore through the heart of the Meath defence.

It was Flynn’s sixth solo run of the night and he’d already set up up Paddy Brophy for a point earlier in the half. As with the seniors, his ball-carrying ability was used to great effect and once he made a break, he was content to hand-pass the ball to a man in a better position.

Kelly, by contrast, used his feet more than his hands to pass the ball. He had 15 possessions in the first half and only hand-passed the ball three times. With his two shots he scored 1-1, a crucial return during a half in which Kildare struggled to get scores.

He changed his approach in the second half, operating a little deeper and linking the play with shorter hand-passes but the effect was much the same. He took two shots, scored a point with his first and it took a fine save to stop him adding a second goal from the second. In any event Padraig Fogarty mopped up the rebound, which meant Kelly had played a major part in 2-3 of Kildare’s 2-15 total.

Flynn, likewise, played deeper after half-time and made three interceptions in the right corner which he made his own as he covered the space down that channel in front of the Kildare full-back line. He had two chances to score in the second half but his first effort went wide and his second shot was blocked. He varied his game a lot more in the second half, kicking the ball as often as he handed it off and made a telling contribution with five successful foot-passes.

Both men were taken off before the finish when the game was won and with a combined 53 plays (Kelly had 27, Flynn 26) it was easy to understand the urge to try and rest them. If Laois are going to stop Kildare in the semi-final, they’ll have to stop Flynn and Kelly first.

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