All Ireland SFC Qualifiers: Kildare earn dramatic victory
All Ireland SFC Round Three Qualifier
KILDARE 0-21 MAYO 0-19
By Cian O'Connell at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge
A wild and emotional Saturday evening ended with Kildare supporters gleefully celebrating a stirring win in Newbridge.
Mayo, who had performed so many daring escape missions in 2016 and 2017 qualifier adventures, were thwarted by Kildare, who summoned a display packed with courage.
It wasn’t short on craft either, though, as Paul Cribbin nailed four gorgeous points from play, while the defending, at various stages, verged on the heroic.
Level with five minutes of normal time remaining Kildare fisted two critical points courtesy of Peter Kelly and substitute Niall Kelly in the closing stages.
Paddy Durcan, who was immense throughout for Mayo, narrowed the gap to the minimum, but Kildare replied once more.
Neil Flynn rifled over a free and another replacement Eamonn Callaghan nudged Cian O’Neill’s charges three clear.
Inevitably Mayo came with one final rally, but a last gasp Andy Moran free went over the bar following Aidan O’Shea’s dismissal for a second yellow card offence. It simply wasn’t meant to be for Mayo as a pumped up Kildare survived.
An entertaining opening period featured encouraging bursts from both teams, who thundered into the contest in front of a sold out crowd.
The locals were satisfied in the opening quarter as Kildare accumulated a 0-7 to 0-2 advantage, but Mayo responded with trademark passion.
Six Mayo points on the spin reminded the typically loud travelling support of the character that exists within Stephen Rochford’s set-up.
Still by the time the interval rolled around the teams were deadlocked which provided a fair reflection of what had been an absorbing half.
Initially Kildare had taken huge encouragement from sweet points kicked by Kevin Feely, Daniel Flynn, Paul Cribbin, and a couple of sweet Neil Flynn frees.
Those scores edged Kildare five ahead, but four Cillian O’Connor frees, and two splendid efforts from Paddy Durcan guided Mayo into the lead.
Paul Cribbin restored parity and the match continued at a decent clip as Diarmuid O’Connor and Neil Flynn (free) traded scores ensuring the teams went in deadlocked at 0-9 each.
The drama continued after the restart and by the 45th minute a Jason Doherty effort had Mayo 0-14 to 0-12 in front.
It appeared that Kildare were ailing somewhat, but they dealt with Mayo’s spell by clipping five of the next six points.
Suddenly belief and conviction was back in the Lilywhites system, but Mayo replacement Eoin O’Donoghue dragged Stephen Rochford’s outfit level in the 63rd minute.
From then until the finish it was about Kildare’s mixture of dynamism and desire as O’Neill’s gutsy team advanced to the last 12 of the All Ireland Championship. A famous Mayo scalp taken and glory attained.
Scorers for Kildare: Neil Flynn 0-8 (6fs, 145), Paul Cribbin 0-4, Daniel Flynn and Kevin Feely 0-2 each, Peter Kelly, Johnny Byrne, Fergal Conway, Niall Kelly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor 0-6 (5fs, 1 45), Paddy Durcan 0-4, Andy Moran 0-3 (1f), Jason Doherty 0-2, Diarmuid O’Connor, Stephen Coen, Eoin O’Donoghue, Kevin McLoughlin 0-1 each.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, David Hyland, Mick O'Grady; Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick; Fergal Conway, Paul Cribbin, Keith Cribbin; Neil Flynn, Daniel Flynn, Paddy Brophy.
Subs: David Slattery for K Cribbin (48), Chris Healy for Brophy (52), Niall Kelly for Moolick (54), James Murray for Byrne (68), Eamonn Callaghan for Doyle (70).
MAYO: David Clarke; Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, Paddy Durcan; Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle; Stephen Coen, Aidan O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Jason Doherty, Diarmuid O’Connor; James Durcan, Cillian O’Connor, Andy Moran.
Subs: Eoin O’Donoghue for Boyle (56), Donal Vaughan for J Durcan (58), Conor Loftus for Doherty (68), Cian Hanley for McLoughlin (70, BC).
REFEREE: David Gough (Meath).