By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Adam Tyrrell scored nine points and Eoghan O’Flaherty contributed six as Kildare gave new manager Cian O’Neill a comfortable start to his tenure with a Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup victory over DIT on a 0-24 to 1-7 scoreline.
Tyrrell had six points in an outstanding first half and though former Lilywhite Tomás O’Connor almost had a goal early on and Conor Madden did find the net after Liam Healy misjudged the flight of a delivery in the 19th minute, the hosts were full value for a 0-11 to 1-4 interval lead at St Conleth’s Park.
DIT weren’t helped by the indiscipline of Neil Collins, who deservedly picked up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes and left his team at a numerical disadvantage for the last 25 minutes plus extra time.
Kildare were in control by then anyway, with O’Flaherty pulling the strings and unerring from placed balls, while Daniel Flynn looked extremely fit and full of energy. Flynn scored three points from midfield, with his pace coming off the shoulder proving extremely difficult to manage, while the former AFL man also shuddered the crossbar with a left-foot rocket.
Once Collins received his marching orders from Stephen Johnson, it was one-way traffic, and Kildare scored the last nine points thanks to O’Flaherty, Seamus Hanafin, Ray Cahill, Fionn Dowling, Tyrrell and Flynn.
Volunteers try to clear up water from the goalmouth before the Louth & Offaly Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup game! pic.twitter.com/R3fT9RxUQD— Sportsfile (@sportsfile) January 3, 2016
Offaly held off Louth in the other Group B game in Darver to get their campaign off on the right note by virtue of a 0-13 to 1-9 win.
Pat Flanagan’s crew were well on top in the first half and led by double scores, 0-8 to 0-4 at half time. The foundation for the victory was laid between 15th and 23rd when Offaly scored six points in a row. Those match-winning scores were provided by Sean Doyle (two frees), Michael Brassil, Conor McNamee, Cian Donoghue and the excellent Bernard Allen.
Colin Kelly got a reaction from the Louth players though and Jim McEneaney, who finished with 1-5, struck for a goal two minutes into the second half. That put the game back in the melting pot but as the game deteriorated in quality – the last five scores came from frees – Offaly just held on.
John Connellan’s 45th minute goal was the key for last year’s Leinster finalists Westmeath as they overcame Wicklow at Bray Emmets by 1-14 to 0-13, while Robbie Smyth and James McGivney shared 10 points evenly, and Brian Kavanagh slotted four as Longford outscored Maynooth University by 0-18 to 1-9.
Mick Lillis began his terms as Laois boss and would have been pleased with his new charges’ battling qualities as they edged out UCD by 1-10 to 1-9 at Park Ratheniska.
The students led by 1-7 to 0-4 in the second half but an Alan Farrell goal started an unbroken run of scores that included five more points to seal the verdict.
Meanwhile, DCU made their trip to Fenagh pay with a resounding 3-20 to 2-6 win over IT Carlow.