Kildare belied much of the pre-match portents of doom to crush Louth in Croke Park and cruise to a Leinster semi-final date with either Meath or Carlow.
The perception beforehand was that Kildare might be under pressure, particularly given their relatively poor championship record against Louth and the absence of a number of players due to injury.
Playing with pace and precision, and holding the upper hand in every sector of the field, they had far too much for a very poor Louth team that never got to the pitch of proceedings.
Former Kildare selector, Aidan O’Rourke will have been very disappointed by the effort of his Louth side, who allowed the opposition runners to advance unencumbered from deep positions on numerous occasions, with the concession of just four frees telling you a lot about the pressure they imposed.
With Padraig Fogarty offering a constantly threatening target, beating players and capable of scoring himself, the likes of Niall Kelly and Cathal McNally in particular benefited.
Louth didn’t even manage to get on top around the middle, with Kildare’s kickout strategy extremely effective, while they broke the ball effectively when Neil Gallagher sent the ball long.
McNally and Paddy Brophy had points inside two minutes and though John O’Brien kicked an excellent score for Louth in the sixth minute, the trend had already been set.
Niall Kelly kicked a brace of points, off either foot, and when Cathal McNally ended some good work by Keith Cribbin and unselfish play by Fogarty with a palmed goal, there were six points between the sides.
Fogarty, Eamonn Callaghan, Keith Cribbin (kicking the ball over his head), Padraig O’Neill, Thomas Moolick and Emmet Bolton added to the tally and it was 1-13 to 0-5 at half time.
Kildare’s levels dropped considerably in the second half but all that did was grant Louth some parity of possession. They needed a completely monopoly to have a prayer.
O’Rourke had two subs introduced before half time, including taking off his sweeper, Mick Fanning at the end of the first quarter.
Leaving Cert student, Ryan Burns came on just before half time and his delivery in the 50th minute was caught well and driven to the net by Shane Lennon, who was just about the only Louth player who could be happy with his day’s work.
Jason Ryan responded by emptying his bench with players hungry to make an impression. Eoghan O’Flaherty had a point within seconds of his introduction and Alan Smith came on to chip over two.
It was a procession, with 12 players contributing to the scoring and just eight scores conceded. After all the concerns expressed beforehand, Kildare will be very happy with that.
SCORERS FOR KILDARE: C McNally 1-2; N Kelly, E Bolton, P Fogarty(2fs), P Brophy(1f) 0-3 each; A Smith 0-2; O Lyons, K Cribbin, T Moolick, P O’Neill, E Callaghan, E O’Flaherty 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR LOUTH: S Lennon 1-3(0-1f); P Keenan 0-2; J O’Brien, C Grimes 0-1 each
KILDARE: M Donnellan, H McGrillen, M Foley, E Bolton, O Lyons, F Conway, K Cribbin, T Moolick, P O’Neill, S Hurley, E Callaghan, C McNally, P Fogarty, P Brophy, N Kelly. Subs: E O’Flaherty for McNally (45), A Smith for Hurley (54), T O’Connor for Fogarty (60), D Flynn for Callaghan (62), C Fitzpatrick for Bolton (64), D Hyland for Cribbin (66)
LOUTH: N Gallagher, P Rath, D Finnegan, J O’Brien, A Reid, D Crilly, P Reilly, P Keenan, A McDonnell, D Maguire, B White, D Byrne, M Fanning, S Lennon, C Grimes. Subs: J Stewart for Fanning (18), R Burns for White (32), B Donnelly for Reilly (50), S O’Hanlon for Donnelly (61), R Brodigan for Byrne (67)
REFEREE: B Cassidy (Derry)