Allianz FL D2: Kirwan inspires Kildare
Allianz Football League Division Two
Kildare 3-10 Limerick 2-7
By Tom Clancy at TUS Gaelic Grounds
Kildare saved their Division Two status as they eventually pushed aside Limerick on Shannonside.
The result means that Clare and Limerick are both relegated ahead of their clash in Ennis next weekend. Despite the six-point margin, this game was in the melting pot right until the last kick, when Darragh Kirwan’s tidy backheel sealed the deal.
Glenn Ryan will be relieved, after what has been a tough league campaign thus far. Their head-to-head advantage over Clare means that next weekend's clash with Meath holds little significance only bragging rights.
The first four scores went the way of the visitors with Barry Coffey, Paddy Woodgate (free) and the target man, Darragh Kirwan kicking a brace. Limerick could offer little in response during the opening 15 minutes.
The Lilywhites were more than happy to retreat and soak up the Limerick pressure, and counter to good effect. However, Mark Fitzgerald, in interim charge following the resignation of Ray Dempsey, saw his side kick the next two scores. Two difficult frees from James Naughton – one from the touchline out of his hands and the other off the deck from 50 meters, brought Limerick back into things.
But a crucial goal arrived on 20 minutes, when Darragh Kirwan delivered to Jack Sargent who recycled expertly for Kevin Flynn who buried to the net. Kildare were able to introduce Daniel Flynn for the injured Ben McCormack to add a different element to an already exciting attack.
Kildare held a 1-6 to 0-4 lead at half-time, as Neil Flynn fisted over with the last act. Limerick had their final brace of points from Colm McSweeney and Cillian Fahy’s mark.
By the 50th minute, it was double scores, 1-7 to 0-5 with a point from Kevin Flynn cancelling out a nice effort from Barry Coleman. There was a goal chance for sub Peter Nash. Limerick penetrated the Kildare defence with a string of handpasses, quickly playing three close to goal before Nash saw his left footed effort blocked superbly by a covering defender.
James Naughton then when close with a goal effort after quick-thinking from Adrian Enright, his dipping effort ghosted by the post and wide. Then the sides exchanged goals.
Gordon Brown’s deflected shot spilled to Naughton and the St. Senan’s clubman dispatched low beyond Mark Donnellan. But within three minutes, there was a goal at the other end.
Darragh Kirwan beat his man, raced in on the endline and lofted a pass for Jack Robinson to palm to the net. Suddenly the margin was a strong looking six-points once more.
Limerick’s second major arrived nearing the 70th minute, Robbie Bourkes low effort was pushed to the net by Cillian Fahy with a superb improvised finish. Limerick failed to add to this and Kildare defended well enough, they then traded points in stoppage time before Kildare finished with the Kirwan goal.
Limerick were pushed up field, and Kirwan raced through the middle, he eventually had to backheel on a loose ball to the relief of the travelling support.
Scorers for Kildare: Darragh Kirwan 1-3, Kevin Flynn, Jack Robinson (1f) 1-1 each, Barry Coffey, Paddy Woodgate (f), Ben McCormack, Neil Flynn, and David Hyland 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: James Naughton 1-3 (2fs), Cillian Fahy 1-1 (1m), Colm McSweeney, Barry Coleman, Brian Donovan 0-1 each.
Kildare: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady (C), Shea Ryan, Ryan Houlihan; David Hyland, Kevin Flynn, Jack Sargent; Aaron Masterson, Kevin O’Callaghan; Barry Coffey, Ben McCormack, Alex Beirne; Neil Flynn, Darragh Kirwan, Paddy Woodgate.
Subs: Daniel Flynn for McCormack (inj - 30), Jack Robinson for N. Flynn (53), Paul Cribbin for Beirne (56), Paddy McDermott for Coffey (64), Eoin Doyle for Woodgate (72).
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Michael O’Donovan, Séan O’Dea, Brian Fanning; Barry Coleman, Colm McSweeney, Tony McCarthy; Cathal Downes, Cillian Fahy; Paul Maher, James Naughton, Cian Sheehan; Adrian Enright, Brian Donovan, Hugh Bourke.
Subs: Adrian Enright for Ryan (35), Gordon Brown for McCarthy (HT), Peter Nash for Downes (43), Robbie Bourke for Coleman (56), Davy Lyons for Bourke (67).
Referee: John Ryan (Cork).