Kildare make quality count in second half

Antrim 0-9 Kildare 1-15

Antrim 0-9 Kildare 1-15

Kildare set up a second round qualifier clash with Leitrim as they ended Antrim’s All-Ireland Championship hopes at Casement Park tonight.

The Lilywhites scored seven unanswered points in a key second half spell, racing clear of a Saffrons side that relied heavily on free-taker Paddy Cunningham (0-7).

Team captain Johnny Doyle helped himself to 1-6, with his 21st minute goal nudging Kildare towards a 1-4 to 0-5 half-time lead.

Doyle and company showed greater accuracy after that to run out impressive nine-point winners.

Kieran McGeeney’s men kicked 21 wides in the drawn game in Newbridge last weekend, so they were keenly aware of the improvements they would have to make to prevail in the replay.

Both McGeeney and his Antrim counterpart Liam Bradley opted for unchanged starting line-ups, the latter also having the recalled Michael Magill to call on as a substitute.

Comfortable at their home venue, the Saffrons settled quickly and dominated possession for long stretches of the opening half - without too much end product.

Cunningham pointed them ahead, but it came after wing back James Loughrey missed out on an early goal.

Kildare seized control of the scoreboard courtesy of points from Ronan Sweeney, Eoin O’Flaherty and Doyle, and they were important scores in a first half that saw defences very much on top.

There was precious little room for forwards to operate in, with both sides tackling and harrying well. Kevin Brady and Cunningham got the home side back on terms at 0-3 apiece, before Doyle broke through for his goal.

Emmett Bolton created the opening for the Allenwood ace, who missed a couple of kickable frees, to slot past Sean McGreevy. Morgan O’Flaherty tagged on a point, but Cunningham took his tally to four as he cut the gap to two at the turnaround.

Kildare had the wind behind them for the second half and they were increasingly comfortable on the ball, albeit with Cunningham making it a one-point game as play got back underway.

McGeeney’s charges raised their game significantly to score the next seven points, Doyle (0-3), Eamonn Callaghan (0-2), Dermot Earley and Padraig O’Neill doing the damage as the Antrim players let their efforts slip.

Sweeney also failed to convert a goal-scoring chance as Kildare began to stretch clear.

The Ulstermen reeled them in slightly, thanks to points from Cunningham (0-2) and Brendan Herron, but closing scores from Doyle (0-2), substitute Keith Cribben and Darryl Flynn ended the Saffrons’ summer run.

Scorers: Antrim: P Cunningham 0-7 (0-6f), K Brady, B Herron 0-1 each

Kildare: J Doyle 1-6 (0-2f), E Callaghan 0-2, M O'Flaherty, R Sweeney, E O'Flaherty, D Earley, P O'Neill, K Cribben, D Flynn 0-1 each

ANTRIM: S McGreevy; A Healy, C Brady, J Crozier; T Scullion, K O'Boyle, J Loughrey; B Herron, A Gallagher; K McGourty, K Niblock, T McCann; P Cunningham, M McCann, K Brady.

Subs used: M Magill for Healy.

KILDARE: S McCormack; P Kelly, H McGrillen, A MacLochlainn; M O'Flaherty, E Bolton, B Flanagan; D Flynn, D Earley; J Kavanagh, P O'Neill, H Lynch; J Doyle, R Sweeney, E Callaghan.

Subs used: D White for MacLochlainn, K Cribben for E O'Flaherty, G White for Sweeney, M Foley for Flanagan, K Donnelly for Earley.

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

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