Antrim earn hard-fought win at Kildare

Antrim 1-19 Kildare 2-07

Antrim 1-19 Kildare 2-07

It took them a while to get going but Antrim eventually imposed themselves to make the long trip to Newbridge pay with a hard-fought victory over Kildare today.

The game never got going in the first half, with both sides looking lethargic and lacking touch.

Antrim opened the scoring with an early free from Liam Watson but Lorcan Harney responded in kind, and might have had a goal as well but his mis-hit ground shot bobbled harmlessly wide.

The visitors looked to be getting a grip on proceedings when the ultra-sharp PJ O’Connell and Eddie McCloskey slotted nice points.

Kildare got a huge boost though when Martin Fitzgerald’s speculative shot from 30m flew into the net off the fingers of unfortunate Antrim goalkeeper, Ryan McGarry in the ninth minute.

Neil McManus landed a free in response and then saw two piledrivers saved magnificently by Kildare netminder Paul Dermody.

Suitably encouraged, the hosts notched up a couple of points from Tony Murphy and a Harney free from 65m and another Harney free just before the break gave them a 0-7 to 1-5 interval lead.

Dinny Cahill kept Antrim in the dressing room for a lengthy period at half time and whatever was said certainly seemed to have an impact as the Saffron men stormed out of the traps with four points in 80 seconds.

Shane McNaughton was outstanding at midfield for Antrim and he began the flourish with a fine score on the run.

Martin Fitzgerald stopped the rot with a neat finish and when Richie Hoban lashed a penalty to the roof of the net in the 43rd minute, a shock result looked a possibility.

Crucially though, McManus struck the net at the other end of the field within a minute of Hoban’s strike and from there to the end, there was only one team in it.

Antrim had the wind in their favour in that second half and they used it to provide an exhibition of scoring in the final quarter.

Neil McManus and Liam Watson were responsible for all of them, sharing the remaining six points between them. Indeed the duo’s aggregate tally came to 1-14 and Kildare had no answer to their threat.

Salt was rubbed into the Lilies’ wounds when wing-back Eanna O’Neill received his second yellow card, leaving them down to 14 men for the last five minutes.

Antrim: R McGarry; S Shannon, N McGarry, B McFall; A Graffan, K McKeegan, C Herron; S McNaughton 0-3, S McCrory; T McCann, N McManus 1-7(0-6fs), C McFall; E McCloskey 0-1, L Watson 0-7(3fs), PJ O’Connell 0-1. Subs: M Scullion for Shannon (ht); C McAllister for McCloskey (49)

Kildare: P Dermody; P Curtin, D Ryan, P Keegan; P Reidy, R Hoban 1-0(pen), E O’Neill; M Divilly, N Ó Muineacháin; T Murphy 0-2, D Kennedy, D Harney; L Harney 0-2(fs), M Moloney, M Fitzgerald 1-2. Subs: C Buggy for Divilly (ht); J Houlihan for Harney (33); D Carter for L Harney (37); P Bugy for Moloney (50)

Referee: S Whelan (Wexford)

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