By Kieran Murphy
SO near to Christmas and with the wind and rain making this O’Byrne Cup second round game in Newbridge on Saturday something of an endurance test, it was truly all about fulfilling a fixture, winding down and looking forward to starting all over again in 2019.
The post-match comment centred on the new rules once more but apart from the first-half performance of Kildare’s Jimmy Hyland they were not an issue during the game.
In the first half, and playing with the wind and rain down towards the town centre, Kildare used the offensive mark well. They clearly had a prepared plan which was to feed Hyland in particular. The left corner-forward made three clean catches and picked off three points from his resultant kicks at goal.
Kildare almost executed another one but with the referee blowing and the forward dropping the ball simultaneously, Gary Hurley, the match referee, was big enough to admit his error and threw in the ball.
In addition to Hyland’s hat-trick of points, the other two members of the full-forward line accounted for another five points of the winners’ 0-11 total at the break – good enough for a nine-point lead.
Carlow struggled at midfield as Craig Kearney tried to pick out his colleagues into a gale. They had little to show for their effort. Lee Walker did work himself into a position to receive a kick which would have brought an attempt at goal but the ball flew over his head and into the hands of a Kildare defender.
If Carlow were to get into the game in the second half they needed a quick goal. After Neil Flynn nailed another point, a much needed three-pointer duly arrived for the visitors.
This time a long ball fell nicely off a Carlow hand for Darren Lunney on the left-hand side of the goal. From the edge of the square, there was no way an intercounty player should miss. Lunney obliged and gave his side a platform to work on.
Darragh Foley added a free and Brendan Murphy did well to dink his shot under pressure over the bar on 51 minutes. That was as good as it was going to get for Carlow. Kildare reasserted themselves and two points from Flynn and one each from Tommy Moolick and Conor Hartley extended their lead.
With the clock counting down the game was held up for over five minutes as Conor Lawler was taken from the field on a stretcher after a collision. A subsequent scan and x-ray on Saturday evening were clear.
In the damp and windy conditions the two sides could have been forgiven if they had decided to call time and leave the score line as it was. No-one would have minded. It is Christmas time after all.
Kildare: Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mark Barrett, Mark Hyland; Cian O’Donoghue, Eoin Doyle, Keith Cribben; Kevin Feely (0-1), Paul Cribben; David Slattery, Eoghan O’Flaherty (0-2), Conor Hartley (0-1); Jimmy Hyland (0-3, marks), Ben McCormack (0-2), Neil Flynn (0-6, 0-5 frees). Subs: Tommy Moolick (0-1) for Feely (h/t), Padraig Fogarty for McCormack (h/t), Padraig Nash for O’Flaherty (60 mins), Brian McLoughlin for J. Hyland (61 mins), Padraig Nash for Slattery (61 mins), David Malone for Dempsey, Adam Tyrell for M. Hyland, DJ Earley for O’Donoghue, John O’Toole for Hartley (all 73 mins).
Carlow: Craig Kearney; Shane Redmond, John Murphy, Conor Lawlor; Kieran Nolan, Simon Doyle, Chris Crowley; Brendan Murphy (0-2), Conor Doyle; Darren Lunney (1-0), Darragh Foley (0-3 frees), Lee Walker; Conor Crowley, Danny Moran, Daniel St Ledger (0-1f). Subs: Robbie Kane for Conor Crowley (26 mins), Josh Moore for Nolan (47 mins), Jamie Clarke for Kane (48 mins), Niall Lowry for Chris Crowley (62 mins), Jack Kennedy for Lawlor (67 mins), Danny Thompson for Doyle (67 mins).
Referee: Gary Hurley (Westmeath)