All-Ireland SFC Qualifier Round 4
Kildare 1-15 Monaghan 1-11
Kildare produced another eye-catching second half performance to book a place in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final for the third consecutive year.
The Lilies will now play their sixth game in five weeks next Sunday but with momentum on their side, will prove a tough opposition for any of the provincial champions.
For Monaghan’s part, a season of promise has come to nought in six nightmarish days and speculation is certain to mount about the future of manager Seamus McEnaney, who has overseen a massive improvement in the team’s standing in his six-year reign.
He revealed afterwards that he hadn’t thought about what he might do as all his focus had been on the game but praised his side’s commitment and character.
Certainly, they started well with two points inside 90 seconds from Tommy Freeman and Ciarán Hanratty and when Kieran Hughes fired over in the 24th minute they led by three.
Crucially though the Farneymen failed to score for the remainder of the half while Kildare, who had been so wasteful up that juncture, finally got their radar set.
Points from impressive substitute Eoghan O’Flaherty, the excellent James Kavanagh, Eamonn Callaghan and an otherwise off-form Johnny Doyle gave Kieran McGeeney’s men a 0-6 to 0-5 interval advantage and they settled the tie in the third quarter.
Kavanagh was to the fore in this period, starting off with a pointed free after taking over those duties from Doyle.
The Ballymore man added two wonderful scores from play and with Ronan Sweeney and Alan Smith also raising white flags, Kildare were doing as they pleased.
Once again, Kavanagh played a key role in the game-sealing goal which arrived in the 52nd minute.
Doyle did well to win possession in the right corner and feed Kavanagh, who scampered along the endline before fisting across the square where Sweeney was on hand to palm to the net.
When Doyle converted a free the margin was nine points and McGeeney was able to afford the luxury of bringing off his talismanic midfielder Dermot Earley in the 58th minute.
Earley was influential again, palming down kickout after kickout, where his voracious sidekicks, Morgan O’Flaherty and Brian Flanagan in particular hoovered up possession.
The big Sarsfields man has been battling a knee injury all season and his manager was surely thinking of next week when taking him off.
The sight of Tommy Freeman coming back to his own 13m line was an indication of the dire straits Monaghan were finding themselves in. The gifted attacker looked dangerous early on but cut a forlorn figure long before the end, with Peter Kelly augmenting a growing reputation as a resolute marker.
To give them their due, Monaghan did tag on a few late points and Hugh McElroy got on the end of a good move for a goal four minutes from time but Kildare were always comfortable.
Kildare: S McCormack; P Kelly, H McGrillen, A Mac Lochlainn; E Callaghan 0-2, E Bolton 0-1, B Flanagan, D Flynn 0-1, D Earley; J Doyle 0-2(fs), P O’Neill, M O’Flaherty; J Kavanagh 0-5(1f); K Donnelly, A Smith 0-1. Sub: E O’Flaherty 0-2 for Donnelly (29); R Sweeney 1-1 for O’Neill (ht); G White for Earley (58); K Cribbin for Bolton (61); D Whyte for M O’Flaherty (63)
Monaghan: P McBennett; D McArdle, D Mone, C Walshe; D Freeman 0-1, D Hughes 0-1, G McQuaid; O Lennon 0-1, D Clerkin; P Finlay 0-3(2fs), R Woods, K Hughes 0-1; C Hanratty 0-1, C McManus 0-1(f), T Freeman 0-1. Subs: S Gallogly 0-1 for Hanratty (41); K Duffy for McArdle (47); H McElroy 1-0 for Walshe (51)
Referee: J White (Donegal)