Kildare 2-15 -
A late scoring blitz from Tyrone left Kildare counting the cost of more wayward shooting on a gale-force day at Croke Park in Sunday’s league semi-final.
Tyrone goals at the start of each half put them on the front foot for most of the game but Kildare weren’t clinical enough up front in the first half when they dominated the game. Tyrone didn’t allow them enough chances to claw their way back after half-time.
Still it took two spectacular scores from Stephen O’Neill to secure Tyrone’s victory after a 60th minute goal from Paul Cribbin left it all to play for in the closing stages. Kildare got back within one when Paddy Brophy stylishly converted with two minutes to go but they scarcely had a chance to equalise before Tyrone pulled decisively clear.
O’Neill’s closing efforts, either side of a Mark Donnelly point, put four between the sides but the enduring memory of the game was the sight of O’Neill in full flight, defying the normal rules of football to flight a pair of exquisite points that belonged in a footballing paradise.
There was only one between them when the Tyrone full-forward curled one over from the right corner in the 67th minute and Kildare were still hunting for an equalising goal when O’Neill defied convention by sliding a shot between the uprights from the left corner via the outside of his left boot in the second minute of injury-time. It was a sensational way to end what had been a contest that could have gone either way.
The scoreboard told only a fraction of the first half. Kildare led by one at the break, 1-6 to 1-5, but it was a situation that should have been better yet the way Tyrone began the game, it looked like they might suffocate Kildare. After a slow start for both sides, O’Neill opened the scoring with a typically audacious point from the right corner but when Tyrone’s Matthew Donnelly ghosted through for a wonderful goal in the 13th minute, you feared the worst for Kildare.
But the Lilies put their heads down and slowly but surely worked their way back into the game. They closed down the space through the middle of their defence while Sean Hurley’s frequent dispatches to midfield for kickouts helped them win some vital primary possession.
The hard-working Padraig O’Neill settled Kildare with a trio of impressive points in the first 16 minutes. O’Neill’s third began a run of four unanswered scores that brought the Lilywhites level after 26 minutes. In truth they should have been ahead at that stage, having kicked eight wides in the first 21 minutes. A brace of frees from John Doyle levelled the game but Doyle could have had a goal and at least one point from play as well, having wasted four good chances.
A free from goalkeeper Niall Morgan ended a 13-minute wait for a Tyrone score but it failed to break Kildare’s momentum – a minute later they were in front for the first time thanks to a Paddy Brophy goal.
Excellent work from Doyle, Paul Cribbin and Eoghan O’Flaherty created the chance for Brophy, who lashed home the rebound after O’Flaherty had his initial shot saved by Morgan. An injury-time free from Sean Cavanagh left one in it and Tyrone must have been glad of the break because they had gone out of the game at that stage.
Tyrone only had the ball inside the Kildare 45 nine times in the 20 minutes before half-time, having attacked Kildare relentlessly in the first quarter – registering 12 attacks in just 14 minutes. That blistering start had yielded 1-3 but they were blessed to be within one at the interval as Kildare struggled in front of goal.
Rejuvenated by the break, Tyrone rediscovered the spark they had displayed at the outset and hit Kildare for another 1-3, this time taking just eight minutes to rack it up. Their second goal arrived 70 seconds after the restart when Mark Donnelly cut through at the end of a fast attack from midfield. Donnelly’s powerful shot beat Mark Donnellan at his near post and though Kildare got the next two scores, they were left to chase the game from there until the finish.
In marked contrast to their opening half display, Kildare scored with their first two attempts in the second half, which took the sting out of Donnelly’s goal. While the Lilies were more economical up front, they weren’t nearly as effective further out the field, which meant the attack had far less ball, making it very difficult to get level.
Instead Tyrone moved five clear by the 59th minute thanks to three points on the trot from Cavanagh, O’Neill and Conor McAlliskey. That clinical spell from Mikey Harte’s men seemed to spell the end for Kildare but all of a sudden Paul Cribbin and Eoghan O’Flaherty conjured a goal chance in the 60th minute when they broke down the left. Cribbin almost walked the ball into the net as Tyrone’s defence hit the snooze button.
That goal lifted the Lilies but it still took eight another minutes to score again as they wasted four attacks before Paddy Brophy kicked them within a point of Tyrone. Again they couldn’t bridge the gap and another flurry of scores from the winners settled the contest.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Ollie Lyons, Michael Foley, Hugh McGrillen; Peter Kelly, Eoin Doyle, Paul Cribbin 1-0; Emmet Bolton, Padraig O’Neill 0-3; Daniel Flynn, Niall Kelly, Eoghan O’Flaherty 0-1; Paddy Brophy 1-1, Sean Hurley, John Doyle 0-6 (4fs). Subs: Tomas O’Connor for Flynn, 50; Sean Johnston for Bolton, 54; Eamonn Callaghan for Kelly, 62; Alan Smith for Doyle, 66.
TYRONE: Niall Morgan 0-1f; PJ Quinn, Conor Clarke, Cathal McCarron; Dermot Carlin, Matthew Donnelly 1-2, Conor Gormley; Colm Cavanagh, Sean Cavanagh 0-2fs; Ronan McNamee, Peter Harte, Mark Donnelly 1-1; Martin Penrose 0-1, Stephen O’Neill 0-4, Darren McCurry 0-1f. Subs: Aidan Cassidy 0-1 for P Harte (inj), 24; Conor McAlliskey 0-2 for McCurry, HT; Joe McMahon for McNamee, HT; Aidan McCrory for Quinn, 62; Ciaran McGinley for Carlin, 62.
REF: Rory Hickey (Clare)
ATTACKS 43 (23) 48 (21)
SHOTS 33 (20) 31 (11)
SCORES 13 (7) 17 (5)
WIDES 11 (9) 10 (4)
TURNOVERS 28 (16) 34 (23)
FREES 28 (15) 29 (8)
KICKOUTS WON 23 (9) 28 (16)