- Kildare's Johnny Doyle was disappointed with aspects of their play despite the win over Offaly
- Offaly manager Emmet McDonnell says they can take a lot of positives from the loss to Kildare
- Nigel Crawford and Ray Silke discuss the growing divide between the top football counties and the rest
- Pauric Lodge reports on Kildare's win over Offaly at Croke Park
Kildare finished strongly to see off Offaly 0-19 to 1-12 in the Leinster SFC at Croke Park.
Johnny Doyle bagged six points, with Paul Cribbin and Eoghan O’Flaherty hitting four each as the Lilywhites marched on.
Four Doyle points and three from O’Flaherty saw Kildare lead by 0-10 to 0-07 at half-time, with Ken Casey hitting three Offaly scores.
Niall McNamee led an Offaly revival with a five-points tally, and David Hanlon netted a late penalty for a consolation goal.
Both of the first-half goal chances fell to Kildare, and on both occasions goalkeeper Alan Mulhall came to the Faithful’s rescue, tipping close-range flicks from Paul Cribbin and Eoghan O’Flaherty over the bar.
As the Lilywhites moved into a 0-03 to 0-01 lead after eight minutes, it appeared their superior class and experience would see their opponents’ early flourish off, but Emmet McDonnell’s side had other ideas.
They pushed men forward to take the game to a Kildare side that played with extra defenders, and had the final delivery to the elusive Ken Casey been of a higher quality, they would surely have had more to show for their efforts.
In any case, they were level by the 19th minute, Casey and Niall McNamee both nailing points.
But the genius of Johnny Doyle gave Kildare an edge, and he set the game alight with two glorious points in as many minutes, one a huge punt from distance, the other a more delicate finish from a difficult angle on the right.
Alan McNamee banged over a long-range point at the other end, but once Kildare began to get the better of the battle for possession around midfield, they got momentum going, and two Niall Kelly scores opened up a four-points lead.
Casey’s third narrowed the gap, but Kildare led by 0-10 to 0-07 at the break, and with Daniel Flynn running strongly from midfield, they stretched the advantage to five with Kelly’s third score.
But Niall McNamee’s wonder point from the shadow of the Hogan Stand sparked an Offaly revival.
Alan Mulhall added his name to the growing list of free-kicking goalkeepers by drilling a ’45 between the posts, and another McNamee gem - his fourth from play - trimmed the deficit to two.
But that was effectively the end of Offaly’s challenge. They became ragged and disorganised, lacking the method and purpose of their Division One opponents, whose superior fitness saw them seize control in the final quarter.
The Lilywhites hit the next six scores to put the game beyond their opponents’ reach. Two each from Doyle and Cribbin exposed gaping holes in the opposition defence, and Mulhall had to be at his best to keep out a fiercely hit shot from Tomas O’Connor.
By the 68th minute, Kildare had opened up an eight-points lead but, to their credit, Offaly battled to the end.
Niall Darby and McNamee, with his fifth, hit the target, and David Hanlon made it a three-point game when he netted a penalty, awarded for a foot block in the final minute. But Seanie Johnston wrapped up the action, scoring a point to give a final score of 0-19 to 1-12.
Kildare: M Donnellan, P Kelly, M Foley, H McGrillen, E Doyle, E Callaghan, E Bolton, Daryl Flynn, Daniel Flynn, P Cribbin (0-04), N Kelly (0-04), E O’Flaherty (0-04), J Doyle (0-06 (4f), T O’Connor, P Brophy.
Subs: F Dowling for Brophy, S Johnston (0-01) for O’Connor, M O’Flaherty for E O’Flaherty, D Hyland for Bolton, R Kelly for Daryl Flynn
Offaly: A Mulhall (0-01, ’45), B Darby, P McConway, D Brady, E Carroll, S Sullivan, M Brazil, A McNamee (0-01), B Connor, G Guilfoyle (0-01), J Brickland, D Hanlon (1-00, pen), A Sullivan, N McNamee (0-05, 1f), K Casey (0-03, 2f).
Subs: P Cunningham for Carroll, N Darby (0-01) for Brazil, J Moloney for Connor, R Allen for Brickland, P McPadden for Sullivan
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).