By Daire Walsh
The Kildare hurlers kick-started their National League Division 2B campaign with a clinical 27-point victory (4-29 to 0-14)over Donegal at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. David Heirty’s men rested for last weekend’s opening round of fixtures, but displayed no signs of rustiness as they collected two points with minimal fuss.
In a blistering opening to the contest, the Lilywhites raced six points clear courtesy of unanswered scores by Paul Divilly (two), the returning Declan Flaherty, Kevin Aherne and Brian Byrne (two).
The dead-ball accuracy of Declan Coulter kept Donegal in contention for a short period, but Kildare discovered an extra gear as the interval approached. Supplementing white flag efforts from Brian Byrne (three) and Johnny Byrne, James Burke rattled the net off his second penalty attempt of the half.
While the Ulster men responded through Danny Cullen and Coulter, Kildare nevertheless established a comfortable 1-12 to 0-5 interval cushion.
The Lilies maintained this momentum on the resumption and a second Burke goal on 37 minutes ultimately placed the outcome beyond doubt. The 2020 Christy Ring Cup champions continued to push on, however, with Johnny Byrne and Conor Dowling added further goals to ease them past the overwhelmed Ulster side.
KILDARE: Paddy McKenna; Cathal Derivan, Rian Boran, Simon Leacy; Kevin Whelan, Declan Flaherty 0-1, Sean Christanseen; Cathal Dowling, Paul Divilly 0-3; Kevin Aherne 0-3, Johnny Byrne 1-3, James Burke 2-1 (1-0 pen); Tadhg Forde, Shane Ryan, Brian Byrne 0-11 (7f, 2 ’65’). Subs: Colm Chan for Dowling, Cathal McCabe for Forde (both 45), Conor Dowling 1-1 (0-1f) for Ryan (48), Cian Forde for Whelan, Caolan Smith 0-3 for Burke (both 54), Sean Whelan 0-2 for Divilly, Conor Kielty 0-1 for B Byrne (60), James Dolan for Flaherty (62-63, blood sub).
DONEGAL: Luke White; Gavin Brown, Stephen Gillespie, Mark Callaghan; Christopher McDermott, Sean McVeigh, Michael O’Donaghue; Declan Coulter 0-7 (7f), Ciaran Mathewson (0-3, 3f); Danny Cullen 0-3, Richie Ryan, Jack O’Loughlin; Bernard Lafferty, Ronan McDermott, Gerry Gilmore. Subs: Padraig Doherty for Browne (half-time), Niall Cleary 0-1 for McDermott, Conor O’Grady for O’Donaghue, Josh Cronolly McGhee for Lafferty (all 49), Ruari Campbell for Ryan (58), Oisin Grant for Coulter (60), Dylan Duffy for Gilmore (67).
REFEREE: Chris Mooney (Dublin)