Down 0-11 Kildare 1-18
A controversial point by Pádraig Fogarty was the launchpad for a storming finish for Kildare, who kicked 1-6 in the closing 11 minutes to beat Down.
Although Jason Ryan’s team won by ten points, Fogarty’s ‘point’ which was clearly wide, had a huge bearing on the result.
Kildare led 0-8 to 0-3 at half-time before Down staged a remarkable fightback, inspired by old-timers Benny Coulter and Dan Gordon.
Coulter switched to full-forward for the start of the second half and kicked three points as Down levelled it at 0-8 apiece inside eight minutes.
The hosts could not get their noses in front but the game was still in the melting pot, with Kildare 0-12 to 0-11 ahead, when Fogarty’s very high shot dropped very wide.
The umpires raised the white flag, prompting James McCartan to run down the sideline to appeal to linesman Padraig Hughes while the Down players pleaded with referee David Coldrick.
Although Coldrick consulted with his umpires, the score was given, and Down could not get the injustice out of their heads.
They failed to score for the remainder of the game, while it was the start of an unanswered run of 1-6 for Kildare who won pulling up.
Tommy Moolick put some spectacular gloss to the scoreline, firing a sweetly-struck, shot into the far corner of the net in the 69th minute.
After being “shocked” by Meath’s physicality in the Leinster semi-final, Kildare defended robustly when they had to, though Down’s fondness for lateral hand-passing, particularly in the first half, made it too easy for their opponents to strip them of possession.
Kildare were stronger on the ball and easily out-muscled Down’s lightweight forwards, with Fergal Conway the pick of an impressive Kildare half-back line.
At the other end, Kildare had plenty of reason to be cheerful as well, with 0-16 of their 1-18 tally coming from play.
Ten different players got on the scoresheet and all of their six starting forwards scored from play.
Ryan was pleased with the marked increase in tempo and intensity to Kildare’s play.
“The level of intensity was far superior to what they had in the last game. It is a good boost for them to see when we play a certain way what can happen.”
How far they can go remains to be seen, and the scoreline must be treated with caution, given that Down really only played for a 20 minute spell after half-time.
We will never know if they could have went toe-to-toe with Kildare to the finish, because they collapsed after Fogarty’s controversial score.
Gordon won everything in the air in the third quarter but he was out on his feet late on, as was Coulter, while the supporting cast just could not get it together in time to muster another fightback.
Kildare had the benefit of quite a strong breeze in the first half and kicked the opening two scores through Gary White and Cathal McNally inside four minutes.
Down levelled with two Donal O’Hare frees, but Kildare were the team in the ascendancy and scored an unanswered five points up to the half hour mark, Fogarty, Eamonn Callaghan and O’Neill (two) all scoring.
Callaghan received a black card for a high challenge on Mark Poland on 25 minutes. He was replaced by Alan Smith, who made an immediate impact with Kildare’s seventh point after 30 minutes.
Gary White picked up Kildare’s second black card of the day for tripping Dan Gordon after 50 minutes before Declan Rooney and Darren O’Hagan brought Down level at 0-10 piece.
In the last quarter, Niall Kelly (two), Alan Smith, Fogarty and Padraig O’Neill all hit nice scores before Moolick’s piledriver put a slightly flattering margin between the teams.
Scorers for Down: D O’Hare 0-3 (3f), B Coulter 0-4, D O’Hagan 0-1, D Rooney 0-1, C Maginn 0-1, C Laverty 0-1.
Scorers for Kildare: P Fogarty 0-4 (1f, 1 ‘45’), T Moolick 1-0, A Smith, P O’Neill 0-3 each, C McNally, N Kelly 0-2 each, E Callaghan, E O’Flaherty, G White, E Bolton 0-1 each.
Subs for Down: C Toner for P Turley (34), R Johnston for Madine (HT), B McArdle for D McCartan (48), D Turley for Johnston (64).
Subs for Kildare: A Smith (0-3) for Callaghan (25), M O’Grady for McGrillen (46), H Lynch for White (BC, 50), T O’Connor for O’Flaherty (54), E Doyle for Bolton (58), M Conway for McNally (70).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).
DOWN: M Cunningham; D McCartan, D Rooney (0-1), D O’Hagan (0-1); C McCartan, C Garvey, K McKernan; D Gordon, P Turley; B Coulter (0-4), C Maginn (0-1), M Poland; D O’Hare (0-3, 3f), N Madine, C Laverty (0-1) KILDARE: M Donnellan; C Fitzpatrick, H McGrillen, O Lyons; E Bolton (0-1), F Conway, K Cribbin; T Moolick (1-0), G White (0-1); C McNally (0-2), N Kelly (0-2), P O’Neill (0-3); E Callaghan (0-1), P Fogarty (0-4, 1f, 1 ‘45’), E O’Flaherty (0-1)
It may be a little unfair on Kildare, considering they won by ten points, but their point after 59 minutes looked well wide. Down had fought back into the game when Padraig Fogarty’s effort was signalled a point to put Kildare 0-13 to 0-11 ahead. It was the start of an unanswered burst of 1-6 which put Kildare in thedriving seat.
Talk of the town
Was this the last we will see of James McCartan as Down manager? Benny Coulter and Dan Gordon also fought like men who thought this may have been their last day in the red and black.
Did that just happen?
Fogarty’s effort was very high and dropped very wide of the near post. Down’s protests led David Coldrick to double-check with his umpires, but he allowed the score to stand.
Best on show
Padraig O’Neill had a hand in many of Kildare’s scores and chipped in with three points from play as well as setting up Tommy Moolick’s goal.
Black card watch
Coldrick gave a black card to Eamonn Callaghan after 25 minutes for a high, round the neck challenge on Mark Poland, but had given a yellow to Fergal Conway for a very similar tackle on Donal O’Hare after eight minutes. No complaints about Gary White’s black for tripping Dan Gordon.
Putting Emmet Bolton on Mark Poland nullified the Down captain’s threat and Jason Ryan can be satisfied with his match-ups overall. There wasn’t much James McCartan could do about players kicking possession away, though it seemed strange to substitute Ryan Johnston who had done well after coming on at half-time.
The man in black
David Coldrick showed a yellow card and a black card for very similar offences in the first half but otherwise had a good game.
Kildare will play either Clare, Roscommon or Tyrone/Armagh in a Round 3B qualifier on Saturday, while it’s another early exit for Down.
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