/ GAA

Kildare storm past Meath to reach semis

Updated: Sunday, 01 Aug 2010 17:57

James Kavanagh starred for Kildare in their win over Meath
James Kavanagh starred for Kildare in their win over Meath

Kildare put in a typically strong second-half performance to beat Meath by 2-17 to 1-12 to book an All-Ireland football semi-final clash with Down.

Meath became the fourth provincial champion to crash out at the quarter-final stage at Croke Park.

The Lilywhites blossomed despite the loss of talisman midfielder Dermot Earley after just a minute, and systematically took the Royal defence apart with an irresistible display of positive, attacking football.

For the first time ever, no provincial title-holders will feature in the All-Ireland semi-finals, and Kildare will go into their last-four eliminator against Down brimming with confidence following this hugely impressive display in front of a crowd of 47, 016.

After the loss of Earley, Kildare fell six points behind inside the opening 12 minutes.

Cian Ward, Shane O’Rourke and Joe Sheridan all steered over points, and when Sheridan sent a screamer crashing against the crossbar, Brian Meade was fouled as he seized on the rebound.

Ward stepped up to take the penalty, goalkeeper Shane McCormack stopped the shot, but the greasy ball escaped his grasp and slipped over the line, and Meath led by 1-03 to 0-00.

This was the sort of start Kieran McGeeney and his men felt they must avoid, but they stuck to their task and got down to work.

Four points on the spin, from Johnny Doyle (2), Eoghan O’Flaherty and James Kavanagh narrowed the gap, but Meath regrouped and went four ahead with a couple of sublime strikes from corner-back Chris O’Connor and the excellent Graham Reilly.

In the 29th minute, however, Kildare got themselves right back in it with a James Kavanagh goal. He collected a searching delivery from Hugh Lynch, and calmly stepped around goalkeeper Brendan Murphy before planting the ball in the net.

Once again, Meath’s response was defiant, and another four-point salvo, including two mammoth Sheridan efforts, restored the four-point cushion.

But Kildare struck again in stoppage time, Padraig O’Neill’s vision picking out Alan Smith at the far post, and the perfectly timed pass was finished with the fist past Murphy.

Meath led by 1-09 to 2-05 at the break, but it was a fired-up Lilywhite side that stepped it up a gear on the restart.

Padraig O’Neill, Doyle and Emmet Bolton were all on target, before Eoghan O’Flaherty fired over a couple of long-range efforts as they hit the front for the first time.

Shane O’Rourke floated over a long-distance special, but while Brian Meade and Jamie Queeney added points, those three scores were all they could muster in the second half.

Kildare swept forward in droves, growing in confidence with every passing minute, and Eoghan O’Flaherty unveiled another aspect of his immense range of talents with a couple of superbly struck long-range frees.

Doyle was also on fire, hitting the target from play and frees on his way to an eight-point tally.

The pair reeled off six points without reply in the closing 10 minutes as the Royal effort faded away.

Meath's misery was compounded by the dismissal of wing-forward Seams Kenny on a second yellow card two minutes from the end.

Kildare: S McCormack, P Kelly, H McGrillen, A MacLochlainn, M O’Flaherty, E Bolton (0-1), B Flanagan, D Flynn, D Earley, J Kavanagh (1-1, 0-1f), P O’Neill (0-2), E O’Flaherty (0-5, 2f), J Doyle (0-8, 3f), A Smith (1-0), E Callaghan.

Subs: H Lynch for Earley, M Foley for Flanagan, R Sweeney for Callaghan, G White for Bolton, D Lyons for Kelly

Meath: B Murphy, C O’Connor (0-1), K Reilly, E Harrington, A Moyles, G O’Brien, C King, N Crawford, B Meade (0-1), S Kenny, J Sheridan (0-3), G Reilly (0-2), C Ward (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-2f), S O’Rourke (0-2), S Bray.

Subs: C McGuinness for Moyles, J Queeney (0-1, f) for Ward

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo)