Kildare 0-16 Laois 0-10
It took them time to get going and had the officials not erred in disallowing a Graham Geraghty goal seven minutes from time it might have been very dicey indeed, but in the end, there was no doubting the merit of Kildare’s victory over Meath in today’s Leinster SFC quarter-final.
You always knew that Geraghty would make some sort of an impact. Indeed, he was just about to be introduced when substitute Brian Farrell was dismissed in the 55th minute after an off-the-ball altercation.
When he did eventually enter the fray in the 61st minute, it was to a chorus of boos from Kildare and Dublin fans but that would have just made him smile. Two minutes later, he was palming Joe Sheridan’s attempted point to the net but after a period of discussion between Syl Doyle and his umpires, it was ruled out.
Incorrectly, as it turned out, with television pictures clearly showing that the veteran had jumped outside the area and landed inside.
Had the goal been awarded, the margin would have been down to one and though Paddy O’Rourke did convert a 50m free to bring it down to three, Kildare quickly extinguished any hope for the Royals with three consecutive scores from James Kavanagh (an absolute pearler off his left from a tight angle), Eoghan O’Flatherty (free) and Rob Kelly.
The Lilies didn’t make it easy on themselves, kicking 18 wides, with 10 of those coming in the first half. They were nowhere near their best in that opening period but once they began to gain parity around the middle and commit more numbers to the attack, Meath had no answer.
Eamonn Callaghan gave another all-action performance for Kieran McGeeney’s men and while his four second-half points will gain the headlines, his ball-winning and distribution in the first half were just as important.
Kildare began well with a point from Alan Smith after 25 seconds but Meath were dominant at midfield while the obvious tactic of sending the long ball into the O’Rourke cousins, Paddy and Shane paid plenty of dividends.
Joe Sheridan wasted a goal chance before equalising from 45m and with the O’Rourkes both getting on the mark, Laois led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 10 minutes.
Emmet Bolton and Kavanagh restored parity but late points from Stephen Bray and Shane O’Rourke had Meath going in at half time leading by 0-7 to 0-5.
They never really got into it in the second half though. Johnny Doyle travelled 40m from the throw-in to point within 11 seconds of the restart. He added a free and a score from play, to book-end three points from Callaghan who popped up in the right position so often to take scoring passes.
That left Kildare four points clear mid-way through the second half and it was only their profligacy, that included the butchering of a couple of goal chances, that kept Meath in touch.
That might have proved critical had Geraghty’s goal been awarded but in the end, they had the superior goods to prevail.
Kildare: S Connolly; A Mac Lochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen; G White, M O’Flaherty, E Bolton 0-1; J Doyle 0-4(1f), H Lynch; B Flanagan, E Callaghan 0-4, E O’Flaherty 0-3(1 45, 1f); J Kavanagh 0-2, T O’Connor, A Smith 0-1. Subs: R Sweeney for Flanagan (26); R Kelly 0-1 for O’Connor (55); P O’Neill for Sweeney (57); M Scanlon for Mac Lochlainn (66)
Meath: B Murphy; G O’Brien, K Reilly, S McAnarney; S Kenny, B Menton, C Lenehan; N Crawford, B Meade; J Queeney, J Sheridan 0-2, G Reilly; S Bray 0-1, P O’Rourke 0-3(1 45, 1f), S O’Rourke 0-3. Subs: M O’Sullivan for Lenehan (25); M Ward for Crawford (41); B Farrell 0-1(f) for Bray (41); P Gilsenan for G Reilly (51); G Geraghty for McAnarney (61)
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford)