Kildare 1-21 Laois 1-7
By Brendan O’Brien, O'Connor Park
Kildare have coasted through a Leinster football semi-final on the back of the most facile of victories over an utterly insipid Laois side in Tullamore this afternoon.
The Lillywhites now meet Meath in the last four.
This quarter-final brought together local rivals who are operating in different stratospheres right now. Kildare will play Division One football next spring while Laois slum it in Division Four. That pretty much summed up the chasm between them here.
Laois, playing into a stiff wind, actually enjoyed the perfect start when Evan O’Carroll stole possession in the first minute and fed Donie Kingston who bulldozed his way through three would-be tacklers before tucking the ball low inside Kildare’s near post.
Fast forward half-a-dozen minutes and the lead was reversed - gone for good, as it would turn out - four points on the spin doing the damage. Laois managed to keep pace through the next quarter of an hour or so but Kildare pulled clear in the second quarter.
The Lilywhites were decent but Laois were abysmal, making any judgement on the winners’ prospects deeper in the summer all but moot.
The breeze was a factor in the first period, in fairness. Laois used short kick-outs to counter it, and their forwards refused to pull the trigger outside of Kildare’s D, but there was otherwise a complete lack of structure or plan.
Peter Creedon’s side somehow managed the trick of being short of numbers in attack and utterly porous in defence. Time and again Kildare drove down the middle unimpinged with Daniel Flynn doing the most damage with three points from play before half-time and 1-3 in total.
In the eleven attacks Laois managed leading up to half-time they were turned over eight times, kicked the ball over the sideline twice and registered a wide on the other. Three more kick-outs ended with Kildare scores.
The second period brought no improvement for Laois, even when Kildare’s intensity levels dropped. The gap, which stood at seven at the break, had already widened to ten by the time Flynn found the net and put any scintilla of doubt to bed.
Boys against men stuff.
Scorers for Kildare: D Flynn (1-3); C McNally and N Kelly (0-3); P Cribbin (0-2); K Feely (0-2 free); O Lyons, J Byrne, T Moolick, K Cribbin, D Slattery, F Dowling, E Callaghan (all 0-1): M Donnellan (0-1 ‘45’).
Scorers for Laois: D Kingston (1-2, 0-2 free); G Walsh (0-3, 1 ‘45’); E O’Carroll (0-1 free); A Farrell (0-1).
Kildare: M Donnellan; O Lyons, M O’Grady, D Hyland; J Byrne, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely, T Moolick; F Conway, N Kelly, P Cribbin; D Slattery, D Flynn, C McNally. Subs: E Callaghan for Conway (54); F Dowling for Moolick and C Healy for McNally (both 58); P Kelly for O’Grady and E Bolton for K Cribbin (both 65).
Laois: G Brody; D Strong, D Booth, J Kelly; E Buggie, P McMahon, D O’Connor; B Quigley, C Begley; N Donoher, J O’Loughlin, E O’Carroll; P Kingston, D Kingston, A Farrell. Subs: A Doran for Donoher (20); G Walsh for O’Carroll (42); R Munnelly for P Kingston (52); K Meaney for Quigley and D Conway for O’Connor (both 65); J Funn for Kelly (66).
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).