ON this day in 1966 a team containing some of the greatest players to ever pull on a Kildare jersey were heavily beaten in a National League semi-final in Croke Park.
These days, games against Galway and games in Croke Park are two of Kildare’s biggest nemesis’ and so it proved back then as well.
Galway were far too strong and eased to a 2-12 to 0-6 win over a lacklustre Kildare side and the report in the Nationalist pulled no punches.
‘One way to evaluate a team’s potential is to throw them into the arena with the best. This is exactly how Kildare met their NFL Waterloo. They were thrown to the lions in the League semi-final, and for Galway, the All-Ireland and League champions, it was like taking candy from a baby. Any hope of a sensational victory was crushed before a salvo of lightning maroon raids in the opening twenty minutes, when the Western Wizards did irrevocable damage,” wrote Paul Donaghy at the time.
A youthful Kildare side started with eight players who had beaten Cork in the previous year’s All-Ireland Under 21 final – Ollie Crinnigan, Denis Wynne, Joe McTeague, Jack Donnelly, Pat Mangan, Tom Carew, Pat Dunny and Kevin Kelly – and a ninth, Pat Nally, was introduced as a substitute.
Playing into a strong wind, Kildare failed to make any headway in the first half and they were ten points down at half time and things rarely looked like improving in the second half.
There were names on that Galway side that would haunt Kildare in the years to come. John Donnellan, whose son Michael tormented Kildare in the 1998 All-Ireland final, did a superb man marking job on Pat Dunny while his brother, Pat, scored three points.
Jack Donnelly scored five of Kildare’s six points, Kevin Kelly kicked the other.
Interesting to note that much of the pre-match talk was dominated about the potential headache that the GAA would have fitting in a replay to an already busy fixture calendar if the game finished in a draw. The more things change the more they stay the same!
In other years on this date, Kildare turned in a performance that deserved more than a one point defeat in Crossmaglen against Armagh in 2005.
Paddy McKeever and Oisin McConville scored first half goals to help Armagh into an undeserved 2-6 to 0-5 half time lead. Kildare battled back well in the second half and held Armagh scoreless for the first 25 minutes. A Johnny Doyle goal, part of a 1-5 tally, as well as a couple of points and a point from Eamonn Callaghan left Kildare just a point behind. Armagh landed two points just after the hour mark and although Doyle and Tadhg Fennin scored late on time just ran out for Kildare in a 2-8 to 1-10 defeat.
Way back in 1938, Kildare defeated Monaghan 1-6 to 1-1 in Carrickmacross. Kildare led 1-3 to 0-1 at half time but after playing with a strong wind the fear was that the home side would come back strongly in the second half but with the likes of Jimmy Byrne, Frank Dowling and Joe Murphy superb in defence Kildare withstood the Monaghan onslaught.