January 15, 2007
Three first-half goals boosted superior Kildare to a decisive O'Byrne Cup Shield win over neighbours Meath at St Conleth's Park, Newbridge on Sunday.
Kildare ....... 3-9
Meath ....... 1-11
Kildare boss John Crofton was reported as suggesting he might field a shadow side for this fixture ,but nine of the players on show participated in the county's last championship outing, defeat by Derry in last year's All-Ireland qualifiers.
To their credit they looked sharper from the off and in the end might have won by a wider margin but for shooting 11 wides over the hour in contrast to just four by their visitors.
Dermot Earley and Willie Heffernan gave them a firm foothold at midfield and by half-time Meath had a new central partnership and were 0-8 to 3-6 in arrears.
Derek McCormack pointed Kildare in front inside 35 seconds and six minutes later they struck for their first goal when wing-back Mark Scanlon pushed forward to take a pass from Padraig O'Neill.
A misplaced free-kick by Meath's Eoghan Harrington led to Kildare's second goal which Murt Donnelly finished to the net. A point from Emmet Bolton left it 2-5 to 0-3 after 19 minutes.
The introduction of Mark Ward improved matters somewhat for Meath but they conceded a third goal in the 31st minute with O'Neill taking the credit and Heffernan and Johnny Doyle providing the assistance.
All bar one of Meath's first-half scores came from play with Peter Curran, Ronan Farrelly and Ollie Murphy registering two points each in the opening period while Ger Robinson landed a free in the last action before the break.
A goal from the latter player within three minutes of the restart briefly raised hopes of a Meath recovery but they managed just three more scores, including one from substitute Stephen Bray, who was red carded in the 59th minute following an off-the-ball clash with Kildare's Andrew McLoughlin.
The scoring rate dropped considerably in the latter stages of a bright but bitterly cold afternoon and the introduction of Killian Brennan ensured Kildare maintained the upper hand in the midfield exchanges.
Apart from Darren Fay and David Gallagher and to a lesser extent Peter Curran and Ronan Farrelly few Meath players gave the impression they were going to make the cut when Colm Coyle trims his panel before the start of the league campaign.
Kildare - E. Murphy; T. Dowling, D. Lyons, A. McLoughlin; M. Scanlon (1-0), M. Hogarty, E. Bolton (0-1); D. Earley, W. Heffernan; D. McCormack (0-1), J. Doyle (0-3), M. Donnelly (1-0); P. O'Neill (1-2), T. O'Connor (0-1), T. Archibald (0-1). Subs - K. Donnelly for McCormack (49 mins), K. Brennan for Heffernan (53 mins), D. Jordan for Donnelly (64 mins), M. Fitzharris for Doyle (67 mins).
Meath - D. Gallagher; C. McLoughlin, D. Fay, D. Kealy; N. McLoughlin (0-1), E. Harrington, S. MacGabhann; B. Lynch, C. McCarthy (0-1); P. Curran (0-2), B. Meade, R. Farrelly (0-2); G. Robinson (1-2, 0-2 frees), O. Murphy (0-2), D. Whyte. Subs - J. Donoghue for MacGabhann (19 mins), M. Ward for Lynch (25 mins), G. Rogers for McCarthy (32 mins), S. Bray (0-1) for Whyte (35 mins), J. Davis for Ward (61 mins).
Referee - G. McCormack (Dublin).
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