NFL DIVISION 2:
Kildare 1-11 Westmeath 2-7, Newbridge
Kildare recovered from a terrible start that saw them fall seven points behind early on to edge out a hard-working Westmeath unit in a poor game at Newbridge.
The win, achieved despite shooting 16 wides, keeps the home side’s promotion hopes alive and in the process pushes their opponents ever closer towards the Division 2 trapdoor.
Westmeath have struggled to date in the league but were given plenty of encouragement early on, establishing a 2-1 to 0-0 lead by the 13th minute.
Martin Flanagan was making his first start of the season and he gave Damien Hendy a torrid time before the full-back was called ashore in the 18th minute.
The Tyrellspass talisman was central to his side’s opening volley of scores, earning a somewhat dubious third minute penalty that was clinically converted by Paul Bannon.
He hit the net himself when a misplaced kickout by Paul Flood went straight to Bannon, who transferred quickly and the finish was clinical.
A soporific Kildare were struggling and Kieran McGeeney moved to shake things up, introducing three subs by the 26th minute. Ronan Sweeney’s arrival at midfield was the most influential with his ball-winning ability helping to cut off the supply line to Flanagan.
Points from Anthony Rainbow and Morgan O’Flaherty helped to settle Kildare but with David Duffy a considerable presence around the middle, Westmeath still led by five points at the break, 2-3 to 0-4.
Eamonn had a half-chance of a goal blocked by Gary Connaughton in that first half but he made no mistake in the 39th minute when good work by David Whyte and in particular, Rob Kelly, presented him with another opportunity.
This time, Callaghan, another man making his first start of the season after injury lashed a venomous shot to the corner of the net from a tight angle.
Westmeath steadied the ship with points from Bannon and Michael Ennis but Doyle converted three frees to restore parity entering the final five minutes.
Doyle followed up with a brilliant score from play on the right before converting another free from 50m.
That proved the crucial score as Doran Harte’s point for Westmeath was the final act of the game.
Kildare: P Flood; H McGrillen, D Hendy, E Bolton; M O’Flaherty 0-2, B Flanagan, M Scanlon; D Flynn, H Lynch; R Kelly, A Rainbow 0-1, D Whyte; K Ennis, J Doyle 0-6(5fs), E Callaghan 1-1. Subs: K O’Neill for Hendy (18); R Sweeney 0-1 for Lynch (25); J Kavanagh for Ennis (26); K Donnelly for Rainbow (43); K Cribbin for Scanlon (59)
Westmeath: G Connaughton; K Gavin, D O’Donoghue, J Gaffey; M Dalton, F Boyle, W Coyne; D Duffy, G Flanagan 0-1; D Harte 0-1, J Smyth, M Ennis 0-1; P Bannon 1-2(1-0 pen, 0-2fs), M Flanagan 1-2, P Greville. Sub: G Hoey for Greville inj (13); T Warburton for Hoey (ht); D Healy for Smyth (46); A Finnan for Warburton (68)
Referee: A Mangan (Kerry)