Kildare 2-18 Meath 1-18
Kildare clinched the Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A title and promotion to Division 2 with a spirited performance against their Leinster rivals Meath this afternoon.
Managed by former Kilkenny hurler Andy Comerford, Kildare struck for a crucial 59th-minute goal through centre-forward Tony Murphy which eventually broke Meath’s resistance.
In a final that ebbed and flowed throughout, the Lilywhites used a stiff breeze to power into an early 0-5 to 0-0 lead with David Harney on target four times.
Adrian McAndrew and Richie Hoban also added points as Meath were left trailing by 0-7 to 0-1, with free-taker Neil Hackett the Royals’ early scorer.
But TJ Reilly’s charges soon hit their rhythm and points from Nicky Horan, Hackett, Stephen Clynch and Ger O’Neill closed the gap significantly to 0-11 to 0-9 at half-time.
Kildare struggled during the latter stages of the half, pushing their wides tally to six, although a late Harney free did give them some breathing space.
The second half began at breakneck speed, with Meath missing two point attempts and then their goalkeeper Stephen Quinn failed to hold an initial shot which David Cafferty turned into Kildare’s first goal.
A McAndrew point put Comerford’s side into a 1-12 to 0-9 lead, but it was soon Meath’s turn to do serious damage.
Horan’s first-time shot was saved but Peter Durnin was on hand to double on the ball and find the net. Subsequent Meath points from Joey Keena, James Boyle and Durnin had the sides level.
It went nip and tuck for the following quarter-hour as Harney took his tally to eight points and Hackett chipped away for Meath with frees.
And while Meath had a Barry Slevin goal disallowed for a square ball, Kildare came up with the match-winning play when Murphy snuck through to beat Quinn with a smart finish.