U21 Championship – Young Lillies fall at the first hurdle
EirGrid Leinster Under 21 Football Championship
By Robert Cribbin
Stephen Comerford in action for Kildare. Photo by Sean Brilly
Kildare’s hopes of making their third Leinster Final in a row were dashed as a well drilled Longford side overcame them in Hawkfield.
Despite trailing by eight points at the break Kildare looked to have turned the tide when after kicking nine points in a row they lead 0-10 to 2-3 with ten minutes remaining but they didn’t score again as scores from Connor Berry and Jayson Matthews help seal a famous win for the Midlanders.
Kildare will be bitterly disappointed with their performance as they never really got going especially in the first half and added to this the loss of star forward Ben McCormack to a hamstring injury at half time certainly curtailed them.
Longford started brightly and were on the board in the 2nd minute when corner forward Rian Brady kicked a beautiful point after turning inside the Kildare defence.
That good start then continued when the outsiders kicked two quickfire goals.
Firstly centre forward Nigel Rabbite volleyed left footed to the net after Daryl Carrigy gave an inside pass before Rabbite rattled the net again in the 12th minute when he took advantage of Kildare giving the ball away, to easily stroke pass Declan Campbell in the Kildare goal.
Midfielder Shane Kenny added to the score soon after with a point and Longford suddenly held a 2-2 to 0-0 advantage.
Kildare who struggled to gain any sort of possession at all in the first half finally got on the board in the 24th minute with a Paddy Woodgate free but David McGivney replied in kind right on the whistle to leave Longford with an eight point lead.
Despite the loss of McCormack Kildare came out a completely different team at the start of the second half as they camped themselves in the Longford half when playing with the wind.
Woodgate duly added five frees on the bounce in the first ten minutes and Kildare were back to within three points.
Wing Back Stephen Comerford then hit a fine point from distance after Woodgate found him in space before Substitute Cian Costigan kicked a brace of scores as Kildare wiped out the Longord lead entirely.
Another sub Jack Robinson put Kildare into the lead for the first then in the 50th minute as the Lilywhites looked set to sail for home.
Longford though upset the apple cart as they found themselves again as Connor Berry with a brace and a fine Jayson Matthews effort helped them towards the finishing line.
Longford lost wing back Cian Brady to a red card in injury time but the game was done at that stage as they held on for a famous win.
Kildare: Declan Campbell; Mark Dempsey, Darren Maguire, Mark Hyland, Ruadhan O’Giollan, Shea Ryan, Stephen Comerford 0-1, Jamie Flynn, Daniel Courtney, Con Kavanagh, Barry Kelly, Conor Hartley, Paddy Woodgate 0-6 (6fs), Eoghan Boyle, Ben McCormack. Subs: Cian Costigan 0-2 for Flynn h-t, Jack Robinson 0-1 for McCormack h-t, Kevin O’Callaghan for Boyle 45 mins, John Costello for Kelly 56 mins.
Longford: Conor Gallagher; Kevin Sorohan, Conor Farrell, James Mooney, Cian Brady, Dessie Reynolds, Russel Brady, David McGivney 0-1 (1f), Shane Kenny 0-1, Joe Kelly, Nigel Rabbitte 2-0, Peter Lynn, Rian Brady 0-1, Daryl Carrigy, Aidan McElligott. Subs: Connor Berry 0-2 for Kenny 22 mins, Eoin Higgins for Brady 40 mins, Jayson Matthews for Carrigy 46 mins, Darragh Doherty for Lynn 53 mins, Cillian Lee for Rabbitte 59 mins.
Ref: Stephen Murphy (Louth)