Two goals in the last 17 minutes fired Roscommon to victory away to Kildare — and kept the westerner’s promotion hopes alive.
It’s not often a game can be deemed as both a promotion and relegation four-pointer but this was the case in Newbridge
With the win, Roscommon can look to the last three games with renewed optimism for their promotion challenge while Kildare are left anxiously looking over their shoulders as they find themselves worrying about being sucked into a relegation battle.
Jack O’Connor’s side started very sluggishly and Roscommon scored four points in the opening six minutes with the home defence marked absent.
However, with the excellent Kevin Feely leading the way from midfield, Kildare played their way into the game over the remainder of the half and scored the next seven points. Adam Tyrrell was key to their attacking play during that spell of dominance with Paddy Brophy and Daniel Flynn also kicking some fine scores during that run.
Frees by Donie Smith in the last minute of the first half and by Cian McKeon in the first minute of the second left the visitors still very much in contention
The game ebbed and flowed over the next 15 minutes or so but when Brophy landed his second point of the game in the 52nd minute, Kildare led by 0-11 to 0-9 and seemed well placed to go and win the fixture.
But, incredibly, they were outscored by 2-2 to 0-2 over the remainder of the afternoon.
Roscommon scored their first goal — the first Kildare have conceded in the league this season — in the 53rd minute when Cathal Cregg was left with an empty net after a flowing move that involved former Kerry player, Conor Cox. Niall Kilroy immediately added on a point to put Anthony Cunningham’s team two points clear.
But when Niall Kelly halved that gap in the 59th the game was very much back in the melting pot entering the last ten minutes.
The decisive moment came when Roscommon were able to cut through the Kildare defence once again before Hubert Darcy’s run was halted by David Slattery.
Referee Martin McNally deemed it a penalty despite protests from the home side that the foul was committed outside the small square.
Roscommon captain Enda Smith kept his cool as he confidently sent Mark Donnellan the wrong way and slammed the ball into the net.
Daniel Flynn pulled back a point for Kildare as they tried to build a comeback but any momentum they were building was halted when Donnellan put a free from distant wide of the post. There were seven additional minutes played at the end of the game but the only score came from Roscommon’s Brian Stack.
An immediate return to Division 1 for Cunningham’s side remains a possibility while Kildare face an anxious few weeks in their bid to avoid the drop — and a place in the Tier 2 Championship.
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; D Murray, B Stack 0-1, M Richardson; N Daly 0-1, C Daly, C Hussey; E Nolan, E Smith 1-0 (pen); N Kilroy 0-1, C McKeon 0-2 (1f), H Darcy; D Smith 0-4 (2fs), C Lennon, C Cregg 1-3.
Subs: T O’Rourke for Nolan, 41; C Cox for Lennon, 48; C Compton for C Cregg, 55; F Cregg for Darcy, 66; R Hughes for D Smith, 70+6.
KILDARE: M Donnellan 0-1f; P Kelly, M O’Grady, D Malone; K Flynn, E Doyle, S Ryan; D Hyland, K Feely; P Brophy 0-2, P Cribbin, K Cribbin; N Kelly 0-2, D Flynn 0-3, A Tyrrell 0-5 (4fs).
Subs: C Kavanagh for Malone, 40; D Slattery for K Cribbin, 54; J Hyland for Tyrrell, 56; J Robinson for N Kelly, 61; N Flynn for P Kelly, 69.
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)