Kildare 2-13 Derry 2-8
Johnny Doyle gave a superlative second-half performance while his older mucker, Dermot Earley, made a first appearance at senior level for 19 months as Kildare recovered from the concession of two second-half goals to record a big victory at St Conleth’s Park.
Kieran McGeeney’s men stuttered a little bit in the second half but, as was the case against Meath eight days previously, they found the wherewithal to eke out a hard-earned victory.
This was a cracking encounter, with both sides looking to build on their first league victories last week.
Derry had the better of the midfield stakes in the opening half, thanks to the high-fielding of Mark Friel and the expertise of Sean Leo McGoldrick in picking up breaks.
Paddy Bradley and Conleth Gilligan looked dangerous early on, with Bradley scoring three points in the opening 11 minutes to give his side a one-point lead at that stage.
Peter Kelly gradually got on top of the full-forward as the game went on, although Bradley was still involved in some of Derry’s better moments in the second half.
James Kavanagh and Eoghan O’Flaherty contributed five points between them in the first half, with all bar one of O’Flaherty’s scores coming from play. Indeed, Kildare’s first five kicks at the posts were successful, as the industrious Padraig O’Neill also finished a move he had started, to push his side two points clear.
That was the advantage at half time, as Kildare led 0-8 to 0-6 and they gradually exerted greater control after the resumption, with Daryl Flynn an imposing presence in the centre, and Eamonn Callaghan picking up plenty of loose ball.
Doyle kicked the first of three fantastic points in response to a Gilligan free and after O’Flaherty had converted a free, sent over another screamer in the 48th minute.
Four minutes later, referee Martin Higgins awarded Kildare a penalty for a nudge on Tomás O’Connor. It seemed a generous award, particularly in light of his decision not to give Derry a penalty late on for an obvious foul on the impressive substitute, Cailean O’Boyle.
Doyle slid his kick to the net, giving Kildare their first competitive goal since the Allenwood man had converted from the spot against Meath 12 months ago, to open a seven-point margin.
A brilliant move involving Bradley and O’Boyle ended with McGoldrick finding the net at the other end and when O’Boyle showed good strength on the hour to beat Shane Connolly, Kildare’s nerves must have been jangling.
The hosts responded well to the challenge though, and an Alan Smith goal in the 65th minute, after an outstanding block by Emmet Bolton on Bradley at the other end sealed the deal.
There was still time for Earley to come on to a tumultuous roar and Doyle set the Sarsfields man up for a point with almost the last act of the day to provide Kildare with the perfect ending.
Kildare: S Connolly; E Bolton, P Kelly, O Lyons; M O’Flaherty 0-1, M Foley, H McGrillen; D Flynn, P O’Neill 0-1; E Callaghan, E O’Flaherty 0-4(2fs), J Doyle 1-3(1-0 pen); M Conway 0-1(f), T O’Connor, J Kavanagh 0-2. Subs: A Smith 1-0 for Conway (55); D Earley 0-1 for O’Connor (69); K Ennis for Callaghan (70+1)
Derry: B Gillis; B McCallion, C McKaigue, A McAlynn; PJ McCloskey, C Kielt, M Craig; M Friel, SL McGoldrick 1-0; N Forrester, B Gormley, B McGoldrick; E Lynn 0-1, P Bradley 0-3(1f), C Gilligan 0-4(3fs). Subs: C O’Boyle 1-0 for Forrester (43); Patsy Bradley for Gormley (49); E McGuckian for Lynn (60); E Scullion for Kielt (69)
Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh)