CHRISTY RING CUP SEMI – FINAL
By Pat Costello
IT was a double boost for Kildare hurlers in St Conleth’s Park on Saturday as not only did they qualify for the Christy Ring Cup Final in Croke Park next weekend but they were also promoted to the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2021.
They now face Down in the Christy Ring Final after the Mournemen overcame Offaly in the other semi-final.
After false dawns in 2014 and 2018, when Kildare were forced into play-offs following their Christy Ring successes, the competition rules have been changed to allow for automatic promotion to the 2nd Tier Championship for both Christy Ring Finalists.
It took Kildare a while to settle into their stride and they also found difficulty in coping with the deep lying Roscommon corner forwards, Cathal Dolan and footballer, Niall Kilroy. The sides were level on four occasions before the first half water break. In fact, the visitors went ahead at 0-5 to 0-4 just after the water break before Kildare took control in the second quarter.
The move of Brian Byrne to the midfield area during this period gave Kildare extra momentum and this allied to a strong performance meant that Kildare became an explosive attacking force.
Kildare’s first goal came on 30 mins after a great move involving David Slattery and Tadgh Byrne ended with James Burke firing to the net. This gave Kildare a 1-11 to 0-5 lead at the break where other Kildare scorers included Jack Sheridan, Byrne and Kevin Whelan.
Within five minutes of the restart Kildare had the game out of sight thanks to two Jack Sheridan goals, one from the penalty spot after Tadgh Forde was upended, and one from a short Roscommon puck out which went astray to the Naas man.
Byrne, Paul Divilly, Niall O’Muineachain continued to raise while flags for Kildare against a Roscommon side that didn’t score from the 20th minute until the 43rd minute. They did finish with a bit of a flourish scoring 1-4 in the final quarter, the goal coming from John Coyne on 67 minutes. Kildare rang the changes as the game progressed but the level of commitment never reduced until the referee blew the whistle on 74 minutes.
KILDARE: Paddy McKenna; Simon Leacy, John Doran, Cian Shanahan; Niall O’Muineachain 0-2, Rian Boran 0-1, Kevin Whelan 0-1; Cathal Dowling, Paul Divilly 0-2 (1f); James Burke 1-2, Jack Sheridan 2-6 (4f, 1pen, 1 x65), Conor Dowling 0-1; Tadhg Forde, Brian Byrne 0-8 (3f) 1’65, David Slattery. Subs: Shane Ryan 0-1 for Cathal Dowling 50, Cathal McCabe for Forde 48, Sean Christanseen 50, Cathal Derivan for Sheridan 52, Mark Doyle for McKenna 59.
ROSCOMMON: Naos Connaughton; Paul Dolan, Peter Kellehan, Padraig Brennan; Paul Kenny, Michael Byrne, Eamon Flanagan 0-1; Shane Curley, Oisin Kelly; Eamon Kenny, John Coyne 1-0, Eoin Coyle; Cathal Dolan 0-5 (4f), Conor Mulry 0-1, Niall Kilroy 0-2 (2f); Subs: Pat Dolan for Brennan 45, Cillian Egan for Coyle 46, Ben McGahon for Eamon Kenny 46, Jack Lohan for Mulry 54, Donal Kelly for Paul Kenny 56
REFEREE: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin)