Electric Ireland Leinster MFC: Kildare advance to decider
Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship Semi-Final replay
KILDARE 2-12 WICKLOW 1-13
By Brendan Lawrence at Joule Park, Aughrim
A magnificent save by Kildare goalkeeper John Ball proved to be the catalyst that drove the Lilywhites on to securing a final berth against Meath after they toppled a brave Wicklow outfit.
A magic start from the home side that saw Eoin Darcy rifle home to to the Kildare net was continued by a first half tour de force from Wicklow corner-forward Matthew Ging, who contributed five points in the opening 30.
However, a stunning attack from deep from Kildare after 28 minutes saw them rip the Wicklow defence asunder and Sam Morrissey punched home from a high ball from midfielder Marcus Kiely and Wicklow headed for the dressing rooms leading by 1-7 to 1-6 after a frantic half.
Padraig Carbury’s Kildare side were out on the field way ahead of the Wicklow men and with them they brought a plan to diminish the threat of Wicklow’s Eoin Darcy and Matthew Ging by dropping a sweeper in front of the home full-forward line.
Kildare’s enthusiasm couldn’t be mistaken early in the second half as they drew level and then took the lead through points from half-time substitute Muiris Curtin and the talented Jack Smith.
Wicklow struck back through Matthew Ging from play and then one of the decisive moments of the game arrived after 38 minutes when a long ball into the Wicklow heartland was batted back in front of goal by Eoghan O’Haire to Muiris Curtin who was on hand – and very possibly in the small rectangle – to fist home to the back of Ben Fennell’s net.
Wicklow attacked for all they were worth, but somewhat uncharacteristically, their shot choices and their build up play was letting them down in a big way.
Conversely, Kildare were able to break up the field at pace and with Aaron Kennedy now playing in the half-forward line they had a distributor of the highest quality who along with the exceptional Alex Beirne caused Wicklow ferocious problems in the second half. John Ball's stunning save low to his right after 47 minutes from Shaun Cranley's rocket of a shot gave Kildare the massive boost they needed to keep Wicklow at bay at a key juncture of the game.
With time almost up Wicklow went hunting for goals and they had their chances. A breaking ball in the Kildare square was met by the boot of Matthew Ging, but his reflex shot was rifled over the crossbar and in the last play of the game substitute David Lawlor drove hard at the Kildare goal, but his shot flew over the bar to reduce the lead to two points when only a goal would save Wicklow’s skin.
Referee Barry Tiernan’s final whistle was greeted with delirium from the Kildare footballers and supporters while the Wicklow players dropped to the ground with exhaustion and heartbreak having given every last drop of effort in what has been a momentous campaign for Kevin O’Brien’s charges.
Kildare march on to face Meath in the Leinster Final and what a game that promises to be. For Wicklow, the fact that thousands of Garden County supporters flocked to Joule Park Aughrim to watch a Minor football team in a Leinster semi-final shows that the winds of change are blowing through the county and both the Wicklow and Kildare footballers quite rightly received a standing ovation.
Scorers for Kildare: Muiris Curtin 1-2, Sam Morrissey (f) 1-1, Jack Smith 0-4, Eoghan O’Haire 0-2, Alex Beirne, Nick Jackman, Liam Broderick 0-1 each.
Scorers for Wicklow: Matthew Ging (2fs) 0-8, Eoin Darcy (1 45) 1-2, Cillian McDonald, David Lawlor, John Keogh (f) 0-1 each.
KILDARE: John Ball; John Lynch, Sean Hill, Jack Hamill; Nick Jackman, Kevin Kelleher, Paddy McDermott; Liam Broderick, Marcus Kiely; Sam Morrissey, Alex Beirne, Michael McGovern; Eoghan O’Haire, Aaron Kennedy, Jack Smith. Subs: Dan Caulfield for N Jackman (26), Muiris Curtin for M McGovern (HT), Padraig Behan for J Smith (52), Drew Costello for E O’Haire (61).
WICKLOW: Ben Fennell; Fionn O’Carroll, Sam Kearney, Tom Moran; Kevin Quinn, Oisin Cullen, Christopher Grimes; Eoghan Byrne, Sean Doody; Jack Fleming Foran, Craig Maguire, John Keogh; Matthew Ging, Eoin Darcy, Cillian McDonald. Subs: Shaun Cranley for J Fleming Foran (HT), David Maloney for C Maguire (52), David Lawlor for O Cullen (58).
REFEREE: Barry Tierney (Dublin).