Kildare made light work of Louth as they began the defence of their O’Byrne Cup crown with a 12-point victory in Newbridge.
Towering full-forward Tomás O’Connor scored 1-1 for the winners while Darroch Mulhall chipped in with seven points as the Lilies easily dismantled an inexperienced visiting side.
After a relatively slow start, which saw Jason Ryan’s men take a 4-2 lead at the end of the opening quarter, Kildare moved up a gear before half-time and reeled off 1-5 without reply in 16 minutes.
Ryan was most pleased with the contribution of his attack, which had 1-9 on the board at half-time.
“We do want to deliver the ball as early as we possibly can, when it’s on. If teams leave space or channels where you can kick the ball into them, we want to make use out of that,” said Ryan.
Centre-forward Eamon Callaghan exploited plenty of gaps in the Louth defence to create numerous scoring chances, including the final pass for O’Connor’s goal in the 30th minute. By then Louth had lost midfielder Declan Byrne to a black card after pulling down Peter Kelly in the ninth minute. Having opened his side’s account in the fourth minute, Louth felt Byrne’s absence and they trailed 1-9 to 0-3 at the break.
Although they dominated possession in the second half, Louth continued to struggle in attack — Byrne’s first half effort was their only score from play. Kildare powered on and kept the scoreboard ticking over as they cruised to victory.
The Lilies welcome Carlow to Athy on Wednesday before hosting UCD in Newbridge on Sunday as they target a semi-final places
Scorers for Kildare: D Mulhall 0-8 (4fs); T O’Connor 1-1; P Kelly, P O’Neill, H Lynch, E Callaghan, E O’Flaherty (free), F Dowling, E Murphy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Louth: R Burns, R Holdcroft 0-3fs each; D Byrne 0-1.
KILDARE: M Donnellan; C Fitzpatrick, P Kelly, G Farrell; C O’Donoghue, D O’Brien, E Doyle; P O’Neill, H Lynch; S McNally, E Callaghan, E O’Flaherty; D Mulhall, T O’Connor, F Dowling.
Subs: W Burke for Doyle, HT; E Murphy for O’Flaherty, HT; D Whyte for O’Neill, 47; D Slattery for Callaghan, 54; S Campbell for McNally, 58; S Hanafin for Mulhall, 64.
LOUTH: N Gallagher; K Toner, D Crilly, P Nixon; D McComish, R Brodigan, J Stewart; D Byrne (Black — 9), B Duffy; R Moore, H McGinn, P Rath; R Burns, D Maguire, D O’Connor.
Subs: S McCann for Byrne, Black, 9; J Connolly for Nixon, 30; D Finnegan for Moore; HT; P Berrill for Stewart, 44; T Durnin for Duffy, 45; R Holdcroft for Maguire, 61.
Referee: F Smyth (Longford).