By Daragh Ó Conchúir at Semple Stadium
Longford 0-11 Kildare 2-24
Kildare romped to a facile victory over 14-man Longford to continue their restorative run through the qualifiers in style at Cusack Park.
The Lilywhites tore out of the traps early on to go seven points clear with the wind and though Longford had that down to four by the 34th minute, an Alan Smith point and Eamonn Callaghan goal undid their good work to make it 1-10 to 0-5 at half time.
Jason Ryan’s men kicked the first three points of the second half and never looked back.
There was huge controversy though as Derek O’Mahoney sent off Diarmuid Masterson in an apparent case of mistaken identity in the 48th minute, meaning Longford’s already mountainous climb was made impossible with a numerical disadvantage for the final quarter.
O’Mahoney showed a yellow card before flashing the red and confirmed afterwards that the sending off was for two yellow card offences, but everyone in the ground only had Barry Gilleran cautioned, while Masterson and Jack Sheedy were incensed by the decision.
Kildare were leading by 12 points at that juncture though and when Mark Sherry ended a 30m run with a sumptuous flick to Alan Smith to goal from the resultant free, it was curtainsl
Sherry was brought on as a sub for the black-carded Padraig O’Neill in the first half for his senior debut and he performed excellently, showing commendable poise to go with his power and searing pace. He also kicked one of those early second-half points that put Kildare firmly on the front foot.
After Smith’s goal and with Longford down to 14 men, it was all too easy for Kildare. Ollie Lyons ventured forward to take a point when a goal might have been in the offing, while Emmet Bolton also got his customary score.
Mikey Conway came on to kick three frees and there was an opportunity for Jason Ryan to hand out another championship debut to Cian O’Donoghue late on.
The howling wind and lashing rain made conditions very greasy but Kildare were hugely impressive in the opening 20 minutes.
Longford did show glimpses of threat inside but Brian Kavanagh was very isolated and the strength of the wind meant they had to work it in very close to try for the posts, with moves breaking down too often in that process.
Crucially they got off to a good start and had three points on the board by the fifth minute with Eoghan O’Flaherty making no mistake from two frees and Paul Cribbin fisting over the first of his three scores in the initial period.
Kavanagh got Longford off the mark from a free but their inability to threaten from play was to be a major problem. Kavanagh did convert another three frees to get his side back in the game but Callaghan’s goal proved the beginning of the end.
Longford: P Collum, F Battrim, B Gilleran, C Farrelly, CP Smyth, B O’Farrell, D Masterson, M Quinn, K Diffley, S Doyle, R McEntire 0-1, D Reynolds 0-1, R Connor 0-1, B Kavanagh 0-7 (5fs), L Connerton 0-1.
Subs: D Brady for Smyth (25), P Foy for Diffley (45), P Gill for Doyle (56), T Gallagher for Battrim (59), R McNerney
Kildare: M Donnellan 0-2(45s), C Fitzpatrick, M O’Grady, O Lyons 0-1, K Murnaghan, E Doyle, E Bolton 0-1, T Moolick, P Cribbin 0-4, P O’Neill 0-2, E O’Flaherty 0-5(4fs), C McNally 0-1, N Kelly 0-2, A Smith 1-1, E Callaghan 1-1.
Subs: M Sherry 0-1 for O’Neill BC (22), H Lynch for Cribbin BC (49), M Conway 0-3(fs) for Callaghan (56), P Kelly for Doyle (58), P Fogarty for Smith (59), C O’Donoghue for Bolton (66)