Kildare captain Brian Byrne lifts the Christy Ring Cup alongside his fellow players this evening at Croke Park.
Kildare captain Brian Byrne lifts the Christy Ring Cup alongside his fellow players this evening at Croke Park.

Christy Ring Cup: Kildare cruise to victory

2022 Christy Ring Cup Final

KILDARE 2-29 MAYO 0-19

Kevin Egan at Croke Park

Just as it has been all year throughout this championship, Kildare had it all their own way this evening at Croke Park, as their class and style overwhelmed Mayo and secured their fourth ever Christy Ring Cup title.

A remarkable ten points from play from Gerry Keegan will take the headlines, but overall there was a lot to like about the hurling produced by David Herity’s side in this contest and they look like a side that will be right at home at Joe McDonagh Cup level in 2023, having narrowly been relegated last year.

Mayo’s commitment and honesty never wavered throughout the contest and over the course of the second half they were only outscored by a single point, 0-12 to 0-11, but they simply didn’t have anything like the same range of threats up front. Outside of captain and freetaker Shane Boland, they had just four scorers from play, chipping in with 0-6 between them, and that contrasted sharply with a Kildare side that looked like they could hurt Mayo in any number of ways.

By some distance however, the main threat was Keegan, as he fired over scores from all over the field. There were a couple of highlight reel scores in the mix from the Celbridge player, but it was mainly his ability to find space at the right time to add the finishing touch to attacking plays, which he did time and again throughout the game.

Even in the opening minutes, when the first four scores of the game were equally shared between the teams, there was a sense that Mayo were doing well just to hang on in contention. Keegan crashed one shot off the post, while Kildare also butchered a goal chance when they had an overlapping player, Gary Nolan coming up with the vital interception to avert the danger.

Quick wrists from Keegan and a long range strike from Cathal McCabe gave Kildare a bit of a forward push, but they were set firmly on the path to victory when Brian Byrne crashed in their first goal in the tenth minute.

There was a touch of misfortune on the Mayo side as Bobby Douglas did well to block the initial attempts from Byrne and Shane Ryan, but he could do nothing as Byrne seized on the sliotar and third time and whipped it across the goal and into the top corner.

From then on, the floodgates opened and by half time, there was no way back for Mayo. James Burke’s points from play and from frees put distance between the sides while Cathal Dowling raised the second green flag, batting the ball to the net after he powered along the end line and created an angle for himself under the shade of the Davin Stand.

A 15-point lead at half-time was pushed out to 19 when Burke, Keegan, McCabe and Dowling all struck good scores early in the second half, but there was an understandable drop in intensity from then on, allowing Mayo to build up their tally. Shane Boland added a wonderful score from the Cusack Stand side of the ground in between a series of dead ball scores, Joseph McManus fired over two from distance while Kenny Feeney added three after coming off the bench, all of which represented significant progress for the Connacht county, who lost by 30 points when the two counties met in the first round of this year’s championship.

For Kildare however, the progress was much more tangible, as they now move up to the second tier of the hurling championship structure in 2023, and will do so with a considerable spring in their step.

Scorers for Kildare: James Burke 0-11 (0-7f, 0-1 65), Gerry Keegan 0-10, Brian Byrne 1-2, Cathal Dowling 1-1, Cathal McCabe 0-3, Shane Ryan 0-1, Paul Dolan 0-1.

Scorers for Mayo: Shane Boland 0-10 (0-8f), Kenny Feeney 0-3 (0-1f), Joseph McManus 0-2, Eoin Delaney 0-1, Joseph Mooney 0-1 (sideline), Keith Higgins 0-1, Seán Kenny 0-1f.

Kildare: Paddy McKenna; Niall Ó Muineacháin, Simon Leacy, Cathal Derivan; Kevin Whelan, Rian Boran, Conan Boran; Cathal McCabe, Paul Divilly; James Burke, Gerry Keegan, Johnny Byrne; Brian Byrne, Shane Ryan, Cathal Dowling.

Subs: Jack Travers for Derivan (43), Mark Delaney for Divilly (44), Jack Sheridan for Ryan (47), Seán Christiansen for Whelan (57), Paul Dolan for Dowling (63), Tom Finnerty for C Boran (63, temp).

Mayo: Bobby Douglas; Paul Kirwan, Stephen Coyne, Gary Nolan; Mark Phillips, Gerard McManus, David Kenny; Keith Higgins, Daniel Huane; Seán Kenny, Joseph Mooney, Adrian Phillips; Joseph McManus, Shane Boland, Eoin Delaney.

Subs: Kenny Feeney for Kirwan (30), Eoghan Roe for Phillips (half-time), Conal Hession for Ruane (49), Patrick Lyons for Delaney (63), Brian Hunt for S Kenny (67).

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary)