Armagh Cruise past Kildare

March 16, 2010

NFL Divison Two Armagh 0-12 – Kildare 0-5

Following their big win over Donegal the previous week and the hype surrounding Kieran McGeeney and Aidan O’Rourke’s to one of their old stomping grounds when they donned the Orange jersey this fourth round league encounter promised a lot but like a lot of Mother’s Day treats there was no delivery.

With the pitch in perfect condition and a crossfield wind to contend with the large crowd that turned out were all set for a classic but after 25 minutes of very mediocre football which yielded 2 points for Armagh through Stevie McDonnell after 2 minutes and the impressive Stefan Forker in the tenth minute the attendance knew that McGeeney’s charges were not all the hype made them out to be. The Lillywhites had picked up 3 yellow cards from referee Joe McQuillan in the first twenty minutes for hand trips and hauling players to the ground and with team captain John Doyle not on his game from placed balls the visitors were toothless and rudderless. The much vaunted midfield of Dermot Earley and Darly Flynn were non existant against a Paddy O’Rourke side which showed two changes from the selected 15 as Ronan Austin came to midfield instead of James Lavery and Gareth Swift replaced half forward Malachy Mackin. Armagh gave starting berths to Paul Kernan at half back and Stefan Forker at corner forward. All four players who were introduced will give the Armagh management plenty to think about as they did nothing wrong to enhance their prospects for permanent inclusion.

Armagh had posted four wides when Kildare hit three in a row wide of the target before hauling themselves level with two points in as many minutes Karl Ennis passed the ball to full forward James Kavanagh to open the visitors account before half back Gary White punched a high dropping ball into the square between the uprights to level. Game on one thought but it was Armagh who rose to the challenge posed by parity as Aaron Kernan wearing number 11 for the first time pulled the strings which led to a 5 point Armagh haul prior to the short whistle. On 28 minutes Forker scored his second of the half following a good pass from Aaron who was fouled for the next score pointed by Stevie. Paul Kernan was not going to let brother Aaron hog all the limelight and strode upfield to show the attackers how it’s done with a good point to put a goal between the teams. Aaron again found Forker with a quality ball and the Maghery man made no mistake slotting over his third and Armagh’s sixth point. Stefan who was causing the Kildare defence all sorts of problems was fouled off the ball which allowed Aaron complete the scoring for the first half by pointing the resultant free to leave it 7-2 at the interval.

Kildare could only improve in the second half and with that in mind their manager brought on Willie Heffernan and Ronan Sweeney for corner forwards Ken Donnelly and Karl Ennis who got nothing from Andy Mallon and Paul Duffy in the opening half.  The interval pep talk worked as Kildare produce their first flowing move as Earley, Padraig O’Neill and Flynn combined for the latter to open the second half scoring. Five minutes in Aaron again found Forker who jinked in along the end line to fist his fourth point of the afternoon. Doyle responded with his first converted free and doubled his haul twenty minutes after the re-start when Armagh were penalised for picking the ball off the ground to destroy the tremendous block effect by a defending Stevie as Kildare were back within a goal 0-8 to 0-5 but amazingly except that of surrender it was to be the last flag raised by the Lilywhites. If McDonnell’s previous block was good his answer at the opposite end of the field was super as he pointed a terrific score following good work by Henderson.  The first home score for 18 minutes signalled the death knell for Kildare. On the hour mark dogged harrying and chasing from Paul Kernan allowed him get the ball to Ryan Henderson who passed it to substitute Mickey McNamee (on for Joe Feeney) who scored with his first touch on his home pitch. A sublime sideline slicer from a very acute angle by Stevie brought his personal tally to four as Armagh went 0-11 to 0-5 in front with 10 minutes left on the clock. Ronan Austin got on the end of an eleven pass movement of the ball by Armagh to take the tally to a round dozen with a terrific team point. The Clan Na Gael clubman had a chance for a goal in added time but his piledriver was superbly saved by Kildare keeper Paul Flood to leave it finishing 0-12 to 0-5 and a third league win on the trot for Armagh.

Armagh – P McEvoy, A Mallon, B Donaghy, P Duffy, P. Kernan (0-1), C McKeever, F Moriarty,. K Toner, R Austin (0-1) , J Feeney , A Kernan (0-1), G Swift, R Henderson , S McDonnell (0-4), S Forker (0-4) Subs- M McNamee (0-1) for Feeney, J O’Neill for Henderson, B.Mallon for A Kernan

Kildare: P Flood, H McGrillen, D Hendy, E Bolton, K Cribbin, M Scanlon, G White (0-1), D Flynn (0-1), D Earley, D Whyte, P O’Neill, J Doyle (0-2, 2f), K Donnelly, J Kavanagh (0-1), K Ennis.Subs: E Callaghan for Whyte, R Sweeney for Donnelly, W Heffernan for Ennis, M Foley for Cribbin, H Lynch for Flynn.

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

Saturday March 20th – Pairc Esler, Newry. Down v Armagh at 7.30pm.