Leinster Senior Football Championship – Quarter Final
By Pat Costello
Kildare are through to the Leinster SFC Semi-Final after a more powerful and polished second half performance earned them a five point victory over Offaly in Portlaoise.
The Lilywhites will now play Westmeath with Dublin and Meath in the other semi-final. Both games are to be played on 18 July.
After a poor opening first half in which both sides were guilty of poor misses, Kildare went in a point up thanks to an injury time mark by none other than fullback, Mick O’Grady.
Neil Flynn’s goal on 56 minutes steered the game Kildare’s way although by that stage of the second half the Lilywhites had outscored Offaly by 1-7 to 0-3. Maynooth man, Flynn, had a superb game contributing 1-7 from play and placed balls.
Kildare finished the game effectively with 13 men after Ryan Houlihan was sent off on a second yellow and Jimmy Hyland was missing on a Black Card for all but 30 seconds of the closing stages.
Neil Flynn’s goal gave Kildare what looked like an unassailable lead but the combination of the loss of the two players and the scoring of Offaly’s Cian Farrell, who ended with 0-8, meant a nervy ending for the Lilywhite supporters in the permitted 500 attendance. A ’45 from Neil Flynn and a point from play from Kevin Feely deep in injury time settled nerves and the game and Kildare marched on.
Kildare included Con Hartley from the start with Liam Power coming into the match day squad for Alex Beirne, who was ill according to Jack O’Connor. Offaly included Niall McNamee and Johnny Moloney from the start.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mick O’Grady 0-1 (M), Eoin Doyle; Kevin Flynn, David Hyland, Ryan Houlihan; Kevin Feely 0-1 Aaron Masterson 0-1; Alex Beirne, Fergal Conway 0-2, Neil Flynn 1-7 (3f) (2×45); Darragh Kirwan 0-1, Ben McCormack, Jimmy Hyland 0-2. Subs: Shea Ryan for Conway 55, Brian McLoughlin for Kirwan 57, Shane O’Sullivan for McCormack 64, Con Kavanagh for Kevin Flynn 74, Paddy Brophy for Hartley 75.
OFFALY: Paddy Dunican 0-1 (45) ; James Lalor, Eoin Rigney, Niall Darby; Colm Doyle, Carl Stewart, David Dempsey; Cathal Mangan, Jordan Hayes; Johnny Moloney, Peter Cunningham, Anton Sullivan 0-1; Niall McNamee 0-2, Cian Farrell 0-8 (4f); Ruairi McNamee. Subs: Shane Horgan for Rigney 26, Bernard Allen 0-1 for Ruairi McNamee 28 , Eoin Carroll for Mangan H/T, Bill Carroll for Cunningham 59, Aaron Leavy for Doyle 59.
REFEREE: Martin McNally (Monaghan)