/ GAA

Donegal 1-12 Kildare 0-14 (aet)

Updated: Saturday, 30 Jul 2011 22:30

Kevin Cassidy celebrates his extra-time winning point for Donegal against Kildare
Kevin Cassidy celebrates his extra-time winning point for Donegal against Kildare

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Donegal are the first team through to the All-Ireland Football Championship semi-finals following their sensational extra-time 1-12 to 0-14 win over Kildare at Croke Park.

Kevin Cassidy’s superb long-range winner in stoppage time at the end of extra-time sent the Ulster champions through to the last four.

This was a game in which both sides adopted a cautious, defensive strategy, but which delivered a gripping encounter packed with drama and excitement.

In front of a crowd of 39,612, the men from the north-west displayed immense courage to withstand all Kildare could throw at them before laying on an irresistible finish which saw them hit the last four points of the game to win by one.

Heroic defensive performances by Karl Lacey and Frank McGlynn were at the heart of this memorable triumph for Jim McGuinness and his men, who now go on to meet the winners of next week’s Tyrone-Dublin clash in the last four.

Eoghan O’Flaherty was a constant torment to the Donegal defence in the early stages, opening his side’s account, before Paddy McBrearty took Kevin Cassidy’s return pass to equalise.

Donegal went back in front briefly through Rory Kavanagh, but for all the possession they had, they were unable to add to those early scores.

Both sides dropped extra players back in packed defences, but it was Kildare who proved more adept at breaking down the Donegal rearguard action, and after O’Flaherty had converted a free, Padraig O’Neill landed an excellent point.

They went two ahead with O’Flaherty’s third, and as Donegal built again with patience, Morgan O’Flaherty took a handful of interceptions to thwart the Ulster champions.

Donegal did craft a goal chance when Karl Lacey pushed forward to link with David Walsh, but when Mark McHugh slipped inside, he was denied by a smart Shane Connolly save.

Eamon Callaghan floated another Lilywhite score between the posts, before McHugh ended a half-hour of scoreless action for Donegal with a stoppage-time score.

Kildare led by 0-05 to 0-03 at the break, and stretched the advantage with a long-range free from O’Flaherty.

But just after a disallowed goal that would have given them a six-point advantage, Kildare found themselves pegged back level by the resurgent Tir Chonail men.

Johnny Doyle's long-range punt had come back off a post, and was gathered by full-forward Tomás O’Connor who drove to the net from close range.

But O’Connor was adjudged to have been in the square, and the score was ruled out.

Spurred on by the let-off, Donegal rallied, and three quickfire points from Michael Murphy - who had come in as a 28th-minute substitute after injury ruled him out of the starting fifteen - Ryan Bradley and Dermot Molloy made it 0-06 apiece on 45 minutes.

But poor service to their inside forwards Murphy and Colm McFadden frustrated Donegal’s attempts to turn a useful spell of possession into scores.

But substitute Christy Toye made a sensational entry to the action. Just seconds after replacing McFadden in the 58th minute, he slipped in behind the Kildare cover to take Frank McGlynn’s shot and beat goalkeeper Shane Connolly with a low finish, a priceless goal with his very first touch.

O’Flaherty nailed a free to end a 16-minute scoreless spell for Kildare, and as Donegal were forced back by relentless Lilywhite pressure, James Kavanagh narrowed the gap to a point with a sublime effort from wide on the left, and O’Flaherty levelled at 1-07 to 0-10 in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Kieran McGeeney freshened things up from the bench, and it was substitutes Ronan Sweeney, Alan Smith and Gary White who hit the target to ease Kildare into a 0-13 to 1-08 lead midway through extra-time.

Murphy dragged Donegal back into contention with a couple of much-needed scores, before Toye levelled in stoppage time, and there was still time for Cassidy to drill over the winner from long range.

Donegal scorers: C Toye 1-01, M Murphy 0-03 (1f), K Cassidy 0-02, K Lacey, R Kavanagh, M McHugh, R Bradley, P McBrearty, D Molloy 0-01 each.

Kildare scorers: E O’Flaherty 0-06 (4f), A Smith 0-02, E Bolton, P O’Neill, E Callaghan, J Kavanagh, G White (f), R Sweeney 0-01 each.

Kildare: S Connolly, A MacLochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen, B Flanagan, M O’Flaherty, E Bolton, J Doyle, D Flynn, P O’Neill, E O’Flaherty, E Callaghan, R Kelly, T O’Connor, J Kavanagh.

Subs: A Smith for O’Connor, O Lyons for MacLochlainn, R Sweeney for Flanagan, M Conway for O’Neill, G White for Doyle, F Dowling for Kavanagh, Doyle for E O’Flaherty, Flanagan for Kelly

Donegal: P Durcan, F McGlynn, N McGee, P McGrath, A Thompson, K Lacey, K Cassidy, N Gallagher, R Kavanagh, M McHugh, M Hegarty, R Bradley, P McBrearty, D Walsh, C McFadden.

Subs: M Murphy for McBrearty, E McGee for McGrath, M McElhinney for Gallagher, D Molloy for Hegarty, C Toye for McFadden, McFadden for Molloy, K Rafferty for McElhinney, Gallagher for Rafferty, Molloy for McFadden, McBrearty for Bradley

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)

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