Leinster SFC Semi-Final: Kildare 2-16, Meath 0-13
Kildare are back in the Leinster Senior Football Championship final for the first time since 2009 after a big win over Meath at a sun-drenched Bord na Móna O’Connor Park this evening.
Johnstownbridge duo Cathal McNally and Daniel Flynn put Meath on the back foot with some superb scores; spearheading a top-class all round performance by Cian O’Neill’s charges.
McNally hit the ground running and contributed 1-3 in the first half, the highlight being a 13th minute goal.
And Flynn produced a man-of-the-match display from full-forward, with his fisted goal in the 68th minute capping off a convincing victory for Kildare.
The atmosphere was electric at the Tullamore venue early on, with players on both teams attacking at pace in the opening quarter.
But despite the best efforts of Cillian O’Sullivan to penetrate the Kildare defence, Meath couldn’t make any inroads with David Hyland, Ollie Lyons and Keith Cribbin particularly impressive.
By the interval, Kildare had built up a 1-10 to 0-4 lead. During the opening 35 minutes, only Donal Lenihan treatened to make an impact for the Royal County, with Graham Reilly well-shackled. And though substitute Ruairi Ó Coileáin brought a fresh impetus to their attack in the second half, they went a second successive game without scoring a goal.
In addition to McNally’s exploits, there were some fine first half scores for Kildare by Paddy Brophy, and free-taker Kevin Feely.
Meath needed a blistering start to the second half and that’s exactly what they got, with two more scores from Lenihan followed by two more in quick succession by Ó Coileáin.
Suddenly, the gap was down to five points and the Meath supporters found their voice.
But Kevin Feely (free) and Daniel Flynn settled Kildare’s nerves with a point apiece. Meath came again with a couple of fine points from Bryan Menton, but the goal they desperately required never looked like arriving.
Feely and Flynn ensured there would be no nervous moments late on for Kildare and when their target-man fisted the ball to the net after a blistering run from David Slattery, they could start looking forward to a provincial final on 16th July.
Kildare Scorers: Daniel Flynn 1-4, Cathal McNally 1-3, Kevin Feely 0-5 (0-4f), Paddy Brophy 0-2, Eamonn Callaghan 0-1, Neil Flynn 0-1 (0-1f).
Meath Scorers: Donal Lenihan 0-5 (0-2f), Ruairi O Coileain 0-3, Bryan Menton 0-2, James Toher 0-1, Shane McEntee 0-1, Mickey Burke 0-1.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady, Ollie Lyons, David Hyland; Keith Cribbin, Eoin Doyle, Johnny Byrne; Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick; Fergal Conway, Niall Kelly, David Slattery; Cathal McNally, Daniel Flynn, Paddy Brophy.
Subs: Eamonn Callaghan for Brophy (49), Fionn Dowling for Moolick (59), Chris Healy for McNally (61), Peter Kelly for Hyland (65), Neil Flynn for Byrne (69), Emmet Bolton for Doyle (69).
MEATH: Paddy O’Rourke; Conor McGill, Donal Keogan, Donnacha Tobin; Pauric Harnan, Mickey Burke, Shane McEntee; Bryan Menton, Ronan Jones; James Toher, Cillian O’Sullivan, Eamon Wallace; Graham Reilly Bryan McMahon, Donal Lenihan.
Subs: James McEntee for Toher (28), Ruairi O Coileain for Wallace (half time), Brian Conlon for Jones (47), Tomas O’Reilly for McMahon (51), Sean Tobin for Reilly (56), Alan Douglas for O’Sullivan (69).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).