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Eoghan Lawless celebrates at Croke Park.
Eoghan Lawless celebrates at Croke Park.

Leinster JFC Final: Kildare earn victory

Leinster Junior Football Championship Final


By Michael Devlin at Croke Park

The junior footballers of Kildare rounded off a memorable weekend for the county after emerging on the right side of a 2-17 to 2-15 scoreline in a pulsating Leinster Junior Football Championship final at Croke Park.

Saturday saw a win for the Senior footballers over Longford in the qualifiers, while the hurlers won the Christy Ring Cup trophy at GAA headquarters, and Colin Ward’s men kept up their part of the deal.

Both teams served up an open and exciting game, and Meath deserve plenty of credit for pushing the winners right to the end.

The Royals made a lightning start with Kevin Ross cutting in from the right to split the posts after just 20 seconds. A minute later they struck for the game’s first goal, Daire Rowe exchanging passes with Danny Quinn to fire past Declan Campbell in the Kildare goal, with Peter O’Connell adding another point moments later.

Kildare’s first foray into the opposition half yielded a point, David Malone breaking through a tackle and opting to fist over Conor McHugh’s cross bar. Barry Noone then followed up with a free for the Lilleywhites.

O’Connell landed a good score before Rowe registered two more frees, while the lively Malone pointed at the other end for Kildare. Moments later the Raheens’ clubman almost worked his way in for a goal, but a brave block from Conor McHugh pushed it behind for a ’45, which was converted by Declan Campbell. Kildare goalie Campbell then sent over a long range free soon after to leave the scores at 1-5 to 0-5 to the Royals on the quarter hour mark.

Quinn got his first of the game for Meath before Kildare captain Graham Waters capped off a fine solo run through the heart of the Royals’ defence with a point.

The next two points came for Meath via O’Connell and Ross, only for Kildare substitute Eoghan Lawless to find the net, roving in from the left wing to calmly slot past McHugh.

Meath responded well though with a McHugh ’45, followed by points from Quinn and Rowe, but Brian Travers got the last score of the half for Kildare as the sides went in at the break separated by four.

Kildare started the second period with much more spark, and got the first three points from Eoghan McMonagle, Conor Murray and Lawless. In the 39th minute they then moved into the lead for the first time, Mark Nolan rounding McHugh to lash into the empty net. Travers and Murray then popped over two scores in quick succession, and the resurgent Kildare were now leading by four.

A Barry Noone point extended the Lilleywhites’ lead before they lost McMonagle to a black card, but suddenly Meath came storming back into the game after Ross landed a free before the Castletown club man powered through to fire in his side’s second goal.

Kildare kept their noses in front with points through Murray and Noone, with sub Sean Clarke responding for Meath. The game was going right down to the wire heading into the last five minutes, and a monster free from off the ground from Campbell answered by points from Quinn and John Keane. Kildare though still had the upper hand, and Declan Flaherty kept them two in front while Meath’s Conor Dempsey was shown a red card in injury time.

Scorers for Kildare: Eoghan Lawless 1-1, Barry Noone 0-4 (2f), Declan Campbell 0-3 (1 ’45 2f), Mark Nolan 1-0, Brian Travers 0-2, Conor Murray 0-2 (1f), David Malone 0-2, Graham Waters 0-1, Eoghan McMonagle 0-1, Declan Flaherty 0-1.

Scorers for Meath: Daire Rowe 1-3 (0-2f), Kevin Ross 1-3 (1f),  Peter O’Connell 0-3, Danny Quinn 0-3, Conor McHugh 0-1 (’45), John Keane 0-1, Sean Clarke 0-1.

KILDARE: Declan Campbell; Kevin Corrigan, Willie Burke, Cian Sharkey; Graham Waters, Eoghan McMonagle, Nathan Sherry; Liam Power, Brian Travers; David Malone, Mark Nolan, Kevin Foley; Conor Murray, Seamus Hanafin, Barry Noone. 

Subs: Eoghan Lawless for Kevin Foley (20), Tom Barron for Cian Sharkey (46), Tom Dore for Eoghan McMonagle (BC 48), Shane Maughan for Seamus Hanafin (52), Declan Flaherty for Barry Noone (52), Stephen O’Leary for Conor Murray (61).

MEATH: Conor McHugh; Ciaran O’Rourke, Cian McPartland, Michael Flood; Nicky Judge, Thomas O’Reilly; Conor Farrell, Kevin Traynor; Danny Quinn, Peter O’Connell, Cathal McConnell; Kevin Ross, Luke Martyn, Daire Rowe. 

Subs: John Keane for Thomas O’Reilly (35), Sean Clarke for Kevin Traynor (37), Ger Reidy for Michael Flood (38), Paul Lynch for Daire Rowe (47), Eamon O Donachada for Conor Farrell (52).

REFEREE: Darragh Sheppard (Dublin)

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