Down battle to Lillies win at Fontenoys
Allianz Hurling League Division 2B: Down 0-19 Kildare 1-14
DOWN earned their place in the Division 2B final with a hardfought victory over Kildare in Liatroim yesterday.
Ronan Sheehan’s side will face either Derry, or the Lilywhites again in the decider after yesterday’s two-point victory.
“We were slow to settle in the first fifteen minutes, given this was the biggest test we’ve had since the Derry game,” said Sheehan.
“Eoghan Sands led up front, and, although we missed two-three goal chances, we kept our composure in the tackle and kept plugging away.
“Once more, Danny Toner had a brilliant game and with the experience of Caolan Taggart and Darragh Mallon in defence, Kildare were going to have out work us for every score.”
Despite playing into the wind, Kildare were quickest out of the blocks, opening up a 0-6 to 0-2 lead with Jack Sheridan and Brian Byrne frees punishing Down indiscretions.
A fourth minute Chris Egan point was Down’s only score from play in the first quarter.
Down created lots of scoring opportunities in the first half, but just couldn’t convert them, while Danny Toner and midfielder Pearse Óg McCrickard got through a huge amount of work around the middle of the park to keep the pressure on the Lillywhites.
Down found a period of ascendancy inside the final five minutes of the half when, trailing 0-4 to 0-9, Toner struck over from 60 metres on Oisin MacManus pointed and Ronan Costello fired over.
MacManus, playing on home soil at the Fontenoys club, opened the scoring seconds after the restart, before adding a free a minute later.
Kildare nosed in front again, only to see the first of three second half Conor Woods monster frees from deep inside the Down half and a Matt Conlon score tie matters for the third time.
McCrickard sent over a wondrous 50-metre sideline for the lead score. However, disaster struck when Shane Ryan rounded Mark Patterson and his shot flew past Stephen Keith to give Kildare the lead.
Two Down points regained the lead before Kildare hit three in-a-row to go two in front with five minutes of normal time left.
Down didn’t panic, however, and two MacManus frees and two more long distance strikes from Woods secured the win.
Down: S Keith; M Patterson, J McManus, D Mallon; C Taggart, C Woods (0-3 frees), G Hughes; M Conlon (0-1), P Óg McCrickard (0-1 sideline); R Costello (0-1), R McCusker, D Toner (0-1); O MacManus (0-10, 0-8 frees), E Sands, C Egan (0-2)
Subs: T Murray for McCusker (47)
Kildare: P McKenna; C Forde, J Doran, S Leacy; N Ó Muineacháin, R Kelly, R Boran (0-1); P Divilly (0-1), A Kelly; C Dowling, B Byrne (0-5, 0-4 frees), J Burke (0-2); C Smith (0-1), J Sheridan (0-4 frees), S Ryan (1-0)
Subs: J Travers for A Kelly (h-t), C Kielty for Smith (52)
Referee: T Gleeson (Dublin)