Hurling & Camogie

Stephen Keith’s penalty saving heroics help Down salvage draw with Kildare

Ballycran goalkeeper denies Lilywhites twice from the spot as Ardsmen also see penalty saved

Down's Stephen Keith making the first penalty save of the game  during the GAA Allianz Hurling Division Two A Round Three  game between Down and Kildare at Ballycran on 02-25-2024.
Down's Stephen Keith makes first penalty save of the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A game between Down and Kildare at Ballycran Picture: Philip Walsh
Allianz NHL 2A: Down 1-24 Kildare 1-24

It’s not very often that you’d see four penalties in one game with only one being scored.

Both of the Sands brothers, Daithí and Eoghan were involved in the winning of Down’s penalties against Kildare in Sunday’s NHL Division 2B clash in Ballycran, with Marc Fisher drilling the second penalty low and hard to Paddy McKenna’s right, for the only goal scored from the spot of the four awarded.

Kildare took a four-point lead 12 minutes into the first half when Ruairí McCrickard had to stretch to control a short puck-out, leaving Jack Sheridan free to race through for the opening goal.

Things appeared to get worse 10 minutes later when Matt Conlan received a black card for pulling Muiris Curtin down on the edge of the square, but with cat like reactions Stephen Keith diverted a bullet like shot destined for the top right of his net out for a 65m.

This was a real shot in the arm as Down then rattled off six of the next seven scores, as Chris Egan, Danny Toner and a brace from Eoghan Sands saw Down take a one-point lead with six minutes to play with Danny Toner and Tim Prenter ended the half with five very well taken scores between them.

Down ended the half only a point behind having scored the lion’s share of their points from play, 13 as opposed to Kildare’s eight.

Kildare had to rely on Jack Sheridan’s accuracy from dead balls to keep their slender one-point lead at the break shortly after Pearse Óg McCrickard had his penalty saved.

In the 16th minute of the second half, Down won their second penalty when Eoghan Sands was judged to have been illegally held up in the small square and Marc Fisher dispatched confidently past a not so lucky Paddy McKenna who was unable to make it two from two from the spot.

Fisher’s goal gave Down a two-point lead, that they pushed out to three over the next five minutes, Daithí Sands and a McCrickard free in reply to a Simon Leacy point.

These two evenly matched sides were not finished entertaining the crowd yet as Cian Boran, Declan Faherty and Sheridan drew the team’s level with 10 to play.

The drama was only beginning and with less than a minute of regulation time to go Kildare were thrown a lifeline, Sheridan fed off a one two combination only to be pulled down inside the large square, but again the feline like reactions of Keith goal deflected Sheridan’s penalty out for a 65m and saved the day for Down once more.

Down: S Keith, M Conlan, B Trainor, T Murray, M Fisher, C Taggart, R McCrickard, D Hughes, T Prenter, C Egan, P Óg McCrickard, L Savage, D Sands, E Sands, D Toner

Subs: P Sheehan for Toner (51mins), C McAllister for Fisher (55mins), N Milligan for Egan (60mins), P Savage for Hughes (68mins)

Scorers: M Fisher (1-1, 1-0 pen.), P Óg McCrickard (0-10, 0-7f), D Toner (0-3), T Prenter (0-2), E Sands (0-2), C Egan (0-2), D Hughes (0-2), D Sands (0-2)

Kildare: P McKenna, C Shanahan, H Carroll, M Grace, J McKeon, S Leacy, Conan Boran, R Boran, P Dolan, J Burke, C Kehoe, D Guerin, M Curtin, J Sheridan, Cian Boran

Sub: S Christianseen for Grace (35mins), C Byrne for McKeon (44mins), D Flaherty for Kehoe (56mins), C McCabe for Dolan (61mins), D Qualter for Curtin (61mins), J Higgins for Leacy (68mins)

Scorers: J Sheridan (1-12, 0-10f, 0-1 65′), J Burke (0-4), S Leacy (0-3), C Kehoe, H Carroll, Cian Boran, D Flaherty, M Curtin (all 0-1)