Allianz Football League Roinn 2
Kildare 0-13 0-8 Meath
Allianz FL D2: Determined Kildare too good for Meath
Allianz Football League Division 2
KILDARE 0-13 MEATH 0-8
By Ger McNally at St. Conleth's Park
Kildare said goodbye to St Conleths Park for the next 18 months or so with a comfortable win over Leinster rivals Meath.
The gates at the Newbridge venue shut after the final whistle redevelopment work will begin next week with a new main stand scheduled to be in place by the time a ball is next kicked in anger there.
Among all the emotion of supporters, players and management saying goodbye to the ground, there was an important game to be played with fifth place in Division 2 at stake. Never has that position been more important and ultimately the difference between finishing fifth or sixth could prove to be the difference in competing in the Sam Maguire or Tailteann Cup.
Kildare certainly started like a team in a determined mood and they scored the first four points in the opening 16 minutes, including a point from David Hyland on his 100th league and championship appearance for his county.
Meath looked like a side low on confidence and their response was pretty feeble, a long rang Jack Flynn free was all they had to show for their efforts in the opening half hour, by which time Kildare led 0-6 to 0-1.
Cillian O’Sullivan and Ronan Jones pulled back points for the Royal County but Kildare finished out the half with the excellent Darragh Kirwan scoring his fourth point before the break and a free from Jack Robinson, leaving them 0-8 to 0-3 ahead.
Robinson, Paul Cribbin and Kirwan scored the first points after the restart as Kildare threatened to run away with the game but the frees of Donal Lenihan brought Meath back into the game. When he converted in the 69th minute close range effort to leave just four in it, there were thoughts of a hugely unlikely Meath comeback but Kirwan struck with a an injury time free to make sure of the win and make sure Kildare supporters left with a happy last memory of St Conleths Park under its current guise.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady, Shea Ryan, Ryan Houlihan; David Hyland 0-1, Kevin Flynn, Jack Sargent; Aaron Masterson, Kevin O’Callaghan; Barry Coffey, Ben McCormack, Alex Beirne; Jack Robinson 0-3 (2fs, 1mark), Darragh Kirwan 0-5 (1f), Paddy Woodgate 0-3 (2f). Subs: Paul Cribbin for Alex Beirne 36, Jimmy Hyland 0-1f for Paddy Woodgate 49, Daniel Flynn for Jack Robinson 49, Kevin Feely for Aaron Masterson 53, Paddy McDermott for Barry Coffey 65
MEATH: Harry Hogan; Adan O’Neill, Michael Flood, Harry O’Higgins; Ross Ryan, Padraic Harnan, Eoin Harkin; Ronan Jones 0-1, Jack Flynn 0-1f; Daithi McGowan, Matthew Costello 0-1f, Jason Scully; Aaron Lynch, Diarmuid Moriarty, Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1. Subs: Donal Lenihan 0-4fs for Aaron Lynch 29, Cathal Hickey for Eoin Harkin 32, Jack O’Connor for Michael Flood 36, Thomas O’Reilly for Cillian O’Sullivan 45, Keith Curtis for Diarmuid Moriarty
Referee: John Gilmartin (Sligo)