Friday, March 29, 2013

Kildare 0-10

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Tyrone 1-13

Crash ball: Kildare's Michael Foley with Joe McMahon and Patrick McNiece of Tyrone

Crash ball: Kildare’s Michael Foley with Joe McMahon and Patrick McNiece of Tyrone

DESPITE their worst shooting display of the year and their second defeat of the league, Kildare claimed a place in the semi-finals on Sunday night.

The hard work was done long before Sunday’s round six clash against Tyrone which was just as well because Kildare failed to function in front of goal for most of the game. Only for the second half introduction of Paul Cribbin Kildare wouldn’t have hit double figures on the day.

It was Cribbin’s display which provided room for optimism on a downbeat day for Kieran McGeeney’s side. The Johnstownbridge man was making his senior debut when he replaced Morgan O’Flaherty at half-time but he scarcely looked like a novice in an action-packed display that yielded three points from play. If anything he looked like an experienced hand called to steer an unsteady ship.

Not that Cribbin was flawless. Much like the rest of his teammates there was plenty of frustration, especially when he wasted a glorious goal chance in the 63rd minute. It might not have been enough to close the gap on Tyrone, who still had a seven-point lead at that stage but it would have made the final five minutes as frantic as the opening five.

There were no scores in the opening minutes of the first half but there was no shortage of action as both sides began at a furious pace. On a bitter and blustery day, Tyrone had the advantage of the elements in the first half, which facilitated their quick, counter-attacking game.

Initially Kildare coped well with their opponents’ long-ball approach from midfield but as the half wore on, the home side struggled to break down the visitors’ defence. When Emmet Bolton gifted the ball to Mark Donnelly in the eighth minute courtesy of a sloppy turnover inside his own 45, the resultant goal was everything Tyrone would have wished for in the early stages.

It gave Mickey Harte’s side the perfect platform to soak up Kildare’s attacks and exploit the space in front of Donnelly and Stephen O’Neill on the counter. O’Neill, elusive as ever, opened the scoring from a free and proved a major threat for the visiting side but it wasn’t until the 22nd minute that the Red Hand men began to take control.

They led by 1-2 to 0-2 after 12 minutes but as Kildare floundered up front shooting five wides, two short and one off the post, Tyrone began to pick off points on the break. They shot four unanswered scores in five minutes to lead by 1-6 to 0-2 after 26 minutes in a spell that really hurt the home side. Their only response was a Ronan Sweeney point from play in what was the only clear-cut chance Kildare had in the first half.

Given the conditions, a six-point deficit was far from disastrous at the interval but Kildare went to sleep just before the break, coughing up two quick points in as many minutes. Peter Harte, who was very effective for Tyrone, scored the first of those points in the 35th minute while O’Neill struck a beauty in injury-time to end the half on a high.

Those concessions looked even more costly for Kildare as they wasted four good opportunities after the restart. Having dominated the early stages of the second half, it was Tyrone who got the first score from a free converted by Peter Harte. Eamonn Callaghan quickly responded for Kildare but it was the home side’s only score for 23 minutes as they wasted 10 chances in that time.

Tyrone moved 10 clear in the 49th minute when their versatile ‘keeper Niall Morgan scored the third of three long-range frees. Kildare were severely punished for their defensive indiscretions although referee Michael Duffy didn’t endear himself to the home support with some questionable decisions, particularly the free given against Paul Cribbin that led to Morgan’s third point. It was hard to see an infringement as Cribbin dispossessed his opponent inside the 45 and Cribbin slammed the ball to the ground in frustration.

But the under-21 star put his anger to one side and had a storming finish to the game as he scored three points from play in the final 11 minutes. It was a blistering spell from the Johnstownbridge man, who popped up all over the pitch in the second half. Tyrone had no answer to his blinding pace and had he held his composure in the 63rd minute, he might well have added a goal to his tally. It was another brilliant burst from Cribbin that took him clear inside the Tyrone 20-metre line but he rushed his shot and pulled it badly wide when he looked like he was caught in two minds.

His energy at least ensured Kildare finished the game on a positive note but Kildare had left it too late to spark a complete revival. 10 points was the least they could have got from the chances they had but having scored half of those in the final 12 minutes, they might well have caught up with Tyrone if they had clicked into gear from the start of the second half.

They won’t be despondent though. In fact they’ll probably relish the chance to get another crack at Tyrone in the league semi-final, which looks likely given the way the table has panned out.

KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Ollie Lyons, Michael Foley, Hugh McGrillen; Emmet Bolton, Peter Kelly, Eoin Doyle; Hugh Lynch, Padraig O’Neill; Eamonn Callaghan 0-1, Eoghan O’Flaherty 0-1, Morgan O’Flaherty; Seán Johnston 0-2fs, Alan Smith 0-1, Ronan Sweeney 0-1. Subs: Sean Hurley 0-1 for Lynch, 26; Tomas O’Connor for Sweeney, HT; Paul Cribbin 0-3 for M O’Flaherty, HT; Rob Kelly for Johnston, 59.

TYRONE: Niall Morgan 0-3fs; Aidan McCrory, Conor Clarke, Cathal McCarron; Ryan McKenna 0-1, Joe McMahon, Ronan McNamee; Colm Cavanagh, Sean Cavanagh; Patrick McNiece 0-1, Peter Harte 0-2 (1f), Matthew Donnelly; Connor McAliskey 0-2 (1f), Stephen O’Neill 0-3 (1f), Mark Donnelly 1-0. Subs: Plunkett Kane for Matthew Donnelly, HT; Danny McBride for Clarke, HT; Martin Penrose for Mark Donnelly, 50; Aidan Cassidy 0-1 for C Cavanagh, 63; Alan McCurry for O’Neill, 69.

REF: Michael Duffy (Sligo)

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