Kildare 4-24 -
Athlone IT 0-12
KILDARE breezed past the feeble challenge of Athlone IT as manager Jason Ryan enjoyed a stress-free afternoon in his first competitive outing with the Lilywhites.
It had been a busy day for Ryan nonetheless. The Waterford man was on the road early to take in a challenge game against Tipperary at Hawkfield on Sunday morning before arriving into St Conleth’s Park for the first official game of his reign. While the wild weather made life difficult for his second string at Hawkfield, there were no such problems for those wearing white at St Conleth’s.
It was 0-3 to no score after just three minutes and by the end of the first quarter Kildare had 1-7 on the board. This was a good time to make your Kildare debut and a lightweight Athlone side felt the full brunt from a group of players eager to impress their new manager.
Athlone didn’t score until the 23rd minute, by which stage they trailed by 14 points, and while the wind was a help to the home side, this was a mismatch of epic proportions. The Lilies ruled midfield and scored at will as they amassed 2-14 in the opening half. Athlone made some inroads after the break but Kildare’s young guns ensured there was no let up in attack. Another 2-10 in the second half helped the Lilies to a 24-point winning margin, which will certainly raise confidence levels if nothing else.
For new faces such as Conor Tiernan in defence and Adam Tyrell and Darroch Mulhall up front it was a profitable afternoon. Tiernan scored three points from play thanks to a customary dashing display from wing-back while Tyrell almost took the net down with a booming left-footed shot that became his trademark during Moorefield’s run to last year’s county senior football title.
Athy’s Darroch Mulhall had provided the final pass in the lead-up to Tyrell’s 33rd minute goal, just one of many fine cameos from an impressive performance. Mulhall finished the game with 0-6 – four of them from play, and his original marker withdrawn after just 25 minutes.
The returning Gary White, who missed most of last season because of his military duties abroad, played as if he was making up for lost time with a man-of-the-match display in midfield. White scarcely put a foot wrong throughout the 70 minutes whether it was winning ball at midfield, forcing turnovers in defence or launching Kildare forward. He was ably assisted by Tommy Moolick, who did well despite having his hands full with Roscommon’s Cathal Shine, easily Athlone’s best player.
Shine scored six of his side’s 12 points and only for him, Athlone might have been whitewashed. His football skills apart, he was about the only visiting outfield player who had the size and strength to cope with senior inter-county football. Poor Gary Connaughton must have regretted doing that business degree as he struggled to keep the ball kicked out to Kildare in the opening half.
Mulhall, Tiernan and White were all on target in a blistering start for Kildare, who netted their first goal after eight minutes. Captain for the day, Eoghan O’Flaherty supplied the finish when Padraig Fogarty played an inviting ball across the square.
Kildare continued to pile on the points – Tommy Moolick and defender Mick O’Grady adding their names to the scoresheet – and Adam Tyrell blasted home their second goal two minutes before the break. Just 23 seconds after the restart Eoghan O’Flaherty netted Kildare’s third goal and Padraig Fogarty scored the fourth from the penalty spot in the 39th minute. Jack Donoghue, whose cynical foul on Fogarty led to the penalty, picked up the game’s only black card as a result and cost Athlone one of their six substitutions.
Kildare took their foot off the gas in the closing stages as Jason Ryan emptied the bench, introducing familiar faces like Hugh McGrillen, Emmet Bolton, Mikey Conway and Sean Hurley. Hurley kicked a point within seconds of his introduction, reminding fans what they would have been missing had he secured an Aussie Rules contract in December.
The Lilies now travel to Longford on Wednesday night for their second game in Group B, where they will take on the hosts at 7.45pm in Newtowncashel.
KILDARE: Shane Connolly; Mick O’Grady 0-1, Mick Foley, Joe Kinahan; Conor Tiernan 0-3, Fergal Conway 0-1, Paul Cribbin; Gary White 0-1, Tommy Moolick 0-1; Adam Tyrell 1-1, Eoghan O’Flaherty 2-4, Cathal McNally 0-4; Darroch Mulhall 0-6 (2fs), Rob Kelly, Padraig Fogarty 1-1 (1-0pen). Subs: Kevin Murnaghan for Cribbin, 49; Mikey Conway for Tyrell, 53; Hugh McGrillen for Foley, 53; Sean Hurley 0-1 for Moolick, 56; Emmet Bolton for Tiernan, 57; Fionn Dowling for Kelly, 61.
ATHLONE IT: Gary Connaughton (Westmeath); Jack Donoghue (Westmeath), Jordie Cassidy (Westmeath), Dean O’Reilly (Cavan); Levi Murphy (Cavan), Colm O’Brien (Galway), Tom Mooney (Offaly); Shane Quinn (Leitrim), Cathal Shine (Roscommon) 0-6 (3fs); Kieran Martin (Westmeath), Adam Caul (Dublin) 0-1, Darren Farley (Longford); Cillian Fitzgerald (Kerry) 0-2, James Dolan (Westmeath) 0-2, Alan Coffey (Westmeath). Subs: Eoin Kerins (Galway) for O’Reilly, 25; Ciaran Duggan (Galway) for Martin, 29; Dermot Judge (Westmeath) for Donoghue, Black Card, 39; Padraig MacGahern (Cavan) 0-1 for Quinn, 53; Gavin Tully (Roscommon) for Mooney, 59.
REF: Derek Fahy (Longford).