Kildare 0-18 Meath 2-11
Kildare made it five consecutive wins over their old rivals Meath, and in the process breathed new life into the Division 2 campaign thanks to Ollie Lyons’ fantastic injury time winner.
The diminutive corner-back showed blistering pace to slice through the Royal defence in the 72nd minute and had the presence of mind to fist over, even though he might have been tempted by the outstanding goal opportunity.
Meath contributed fully to a thrilling tie but were still unable to eke out their third victory of the season, despite scoring two second half goals.
Kildare started strongly but once again, spurned a couple of good opportunities before Tomás O’Connor got them off the mark with a fisted point, after Chris O’Connor got a block on Mikey Conway’s goal-bound shot.
Eoghan O’Flaherty followed up with a pointed free before Micky Burke, took a momentary break from his man-marking duties on Eamonn Callaghan to raid forward and open the scoring for Meath in the ninth minute.
Conway should have goaled after being put through by Callaghan but blasted over. Further scores from Darryl Flynn, Hugh McGrillen and Callaghan gave the visitors an advantage they deserved.
Meath began to wrest some control and given that Cian Ward and Paddy Gilsenan had been troubling Mick Foley and Andriú Mac Lochlainn on a lesser supply, it was no surprise that the hosts clawed themselves back level thanks to Shane McAnarney, O’Connor and Stephen Bray.
Kildare finished the half strongly though, with points from O’Flaherty- clearly enjoying his return to the attck - and Callaghan to lead at half time, 0-8 to 0-6.
It was more of the same after the resumption, as a Bray brace had the sides level within a couple of minutes, the first a brilliant effort from play.
But Kildare rolled up their sleeves once more, the excellent O’Flaherty brushing off a missed free to capitalise on good work by Padraig O’Neill and launch a fine score from 42m. O’Neill followed up with a point from a similar distance and when O’Flaherty converted a free, there were three points between the sides.
By this stage, Joe Sheridan had come on, for the presumably injured Ward, and the delivery became more direct.
The big Seneschalstown man had had a couple of touches, with mixed results, but his third was very significant, as Bray’s attempt at a point dropped short. Sheridan gathered possession and retained his composure well to place Gilsenan, who rocketed a low shot to the Kildare net in the 48th minute.
Tom Walsh put Meath in front for the first time in the game almost immediately afterwards, and just a matter of seconds after his introduction but an O’Flaherty free restored parity once again.
The scores were coming thick and fast now though as the game opened up and Meath were definitely in a period of ascendancy.
Gilsenan restored Meath’s lead but the return should have been a goal rather than a point, as the Royals had a two-on-one situation but the Oldcastle attacker blazed over.
Over and back they went, before two massive points by O’Neill and Morgan O’Flaherty pushed Kildare two clear again.
Once more Walsh made a big play though, putting fellow sub Donnacha Tobin through for a 64th minute goal.
In the end, Kildare needed the victory more though, and after Alan Smith equalised, it was left to Lyons to provide the dramatic ending.
Kildare: E O’Flaherty 0-6(3fs); E Callaghan, P O’Neill, O Lyons 0-2 each; D Flynn, H McGrillen, M Conway, T O’Connor, M O’Flaherty, A Smith 0-1 each
Meath: P Gilsenan 1-2; S Bray 0-5(4fs); D Tobin 1-0 C Ward, C O’Connor, M Burke, T Walsh 0-1 each
Kildare: S Connolly; A Mac Lochlainn, M Foley, O Lyons; E Bolton, M O’Flaherty, H McGrillen; D Flynn, P O’Neill; M Conway, E O’Flaherty, J Doyle; E Callaghan, T O’Connor, J Kavanagh. Subs: P Kelly for Foley (34); R Sweeney for Flynn (41); A Smith for Kavanagh (52); C Fitzpatrick for Mac Lochlainn (56); K Ennis for Doyle (67)
Meath: D Gallagher; M Burke, K Reilly, B Menton; G O’Brien, S McAnarney, C McGuinness; B Meade, M Ward; S Kenny, G Reilly, C O’Connor; S Bray, C Ward,. S Bray. Subs: D Tobin for O’Brien (25); J Sheridan for C Ward (38); T Walsh for McGuinnes (48); C King for Meade (48); G Geraghty for Reilly (67)
Referee: M Collins (Cork)