Allianz Football League Division 2
KILDARE 0-16 WESTMEATH 0-11
By Ger McNally at St. Conleth’s Park
Kildare won their second game since the return of intercounty games but results failed to fall their way elsewhere and they will be playing Division 2 football again next season.
They probably would have settled for that after losing three of their first four league games but they have finished strongly and now Jack O’Connor’s team look well placed going into Championship season.
Like most of the division, Westmeath arrived in Newbridge knowing a win could see them possibly promoted as well but they were second best on the day against their well organised opponents.
After a close opening to the game, Westmeath led 0-3 to 0-2 just after the water break but a point from full back Mick O’Grady started a spell of four points in a row from Kildare.
Darragh Kirwan (2) and Ben McCormack scored to push Kildare three clear and that was still the gap by half time, 0-8 to 0-5 to Kildare.
Westmeath played with a little more freedom in the second half and Killian Daly and Ger Egan scored either side of O’Grady’s second of the game.
Kildare’s towering midfield duo of Kevin Feely and Aaron Masterson were in top form and they helped Kildare get back on top again. Jimmy Hyland scored a close range free and then Neil Flynn kicked a brilliant effort from the 45 with his first touch after coming into the game, the last kick before water break, to put Kildare 0-11 to 0-7 ahead.
Hyland scored Kildare’s third in a row after the resumption of play to put Kildare five clear but Jack Cooney’s men battled back well.
With news that Clare had got back on level terms with Armagh in Ennis filtering through, Westmeath sensed their chance and Heslin (2) and Egan scored to leave just two in it with ten minutes to go.
But that was as good as it got for Westmeath and as Armagh pulled away in Ennis, Kildare got back on top and the home side scored four of the last five points to finish five point winners.
Scorers for Kildare: Jimmy Hyland 0-5 (3f), Neil Flynn 0-3 (3f), Mick O’Grady 0-2, Darragh Kirwan 0-2 (1m), Kevin Feely 0-1 (m), Aaron Masterson 0-1, Ben McCormack 0-1, Paul Cribbin 0-1.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mick O’Grady, Eoin Doyle, Shea Ryan, Con Kavanagh, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feely, Aaron Masterson; David Hyland, Paddy Brophy, Fergal Conway, Ben McCormack, Darragh Kirwan, Jimmy Hyland.Subs: Darragh Malone for Doyle, 17; Paul Cribbin 0-1 for Conway, 51; Neil Flynn for McCormack, 51; Liam Power for K Flynn, 53; Luke Flynn for Brophy, 65.
Scorers for Westmeath: John Heslin 0-4 (3f), Ronan O’Toole 0-2, Ger Egan 0-2, Sam Duncan 0-1, Luke Loughlin 0-1, Jack Smith 0-1.
WESTMEATH: Jason Daly; Jack Smith, Ronan Wallace, Boidu Sayeh, Jamie Gonoud, Kevin Maguire, James Dolan; Ray Connellan, Sam Duncan; Luke Loughlin, Ronan O’Toole, Paddy Holloway, Ger Egan, John Heslin, Kieran Martin. Subs: Killian Daly for Holloway, 33; Brandon Kelly for Daly, 65; Lorcan Dolan for Egan, 70+1; Alex Gardiner for Egan, 70+1.
REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan.
Report by GAA.ie