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NFL DIVISION 2 ROUND 1 - Kildare dish out one hell of a beating

When Sean Dempsey said last week that he wouldn't wish for any other team to start the league campaign against, he could hardly have imagined things going any worse than they did.

His first game as Laois manager in O'Moore Park last Sunday ended in a comprehensive seven-point loss to Kildare. It goes without saying that he's unlikely to forget it too easily. Nor will his players. This, to paraphrase the Norwegian commentator after his country beat England in a World Cup qualifying game, was one hell of a beating.

Even in last year's win-less Division 1 campaign, Laois never went down as badly as they did here. In an incredible second-half collapse, Laois were outscored by 0-12 to 0-4, as Kildare did what they pleased. It was all-too-easy for Kieran McGeeney's side and it's a win that will send their confidence levels through the roof. We expected it to be tight and tough and to go right down to the last whistle. They had drawn their last three league meetings but this was emphatic; Laois played well for a while in the first half but when Kildare went through the gears in the second half, they were left rooted to the spot an the sight of home fans streaming out of the grounds with ten minutes remaining was a depressing snapshot of a disappointing day.

For a county who have traditionally struggled to get the scoreboard moving, Kildare hit 18 points, and it could have been a whole lot more, as evidenced by the 13 wides they kicked. And they managed all that without Johnny Doyle playing anything close to his best.

It was an eye-opening experience for Dempsey and while Laois could be strengthened in the coming weeks with the return of a handful of more experienced players, the opposition are going to get better too. League results are bound to be schizophrenic again this year but even at this early stage, it looks as if we could be in for another battle against relegation. There were a few positives but, right now, there's so many fires lighting, Dempsey is going to decide which ones need to be put out first.

Where do Laois go now? They travel to Armagh in two weeks but before that, it'll be back to the drawing board as they try to figure out how to avoid a repeat of last Sunday.

At the break it had looked well set up for a home win. Laois led by a point, 1-4 to 0-6, had wind advantage to come and through the clever use of Noel Garvan and Padraig Clancy at midfield and Brendan Quigley at wing-forward were dominant around the centre. Kildare, admittedly, had kicked 10 wides at that stage but Laois had had their chances too and could have had more scores on the board were it not for some weak shooting. Brian McCormack got the first point of the second half but suddenly Kildare got a grip on midfield, with Dermot Earley outstanding, and they powerfully overwhelmed Laois' young and inexperienced backline.They outscored Laois by 0-12 to 0-4 in the second half as they clocked up a tally almost twice what they'd usually hit.

Ross Munnelly, who was brilliant in the opening half, got the game off to a good start when he landed a great point from play from the left wing but Eoghan O'Flaherty and James Kavanagh responded for Kildare only for Munnelly to swing over from the opposite corner to level things up.

Eamonn Callaghan got the first of his four points after a good run by Ronan Sweeney but a Munnelly free, after Quigley was fouled in front of goal, tied the scores again. A brave block by Paul Begley on Callaghan denied Kildare a goal chance and, within minutes, Laois had the ball in the net. Quigley won a high ball in the square and, despite being surrounded by Kildare defenders, fired an unstoppable effort to the roof of the Kildare net from a tight angle after 17 minutes.

The play was frantic from there until the end of the half but Laois would only get one more score – a fabulous point from Chris Bergin after he won a long delivery from Ger Reddin – as points from Callaghan and Doyle (two frees) left just one point in at the break.

With Kildare squandering chance after chance at one end, Laois were guilty of some poor shooting too and Shane McCormack in the Kildare goal was kept busy gathering the shots that dropped short into his hands.

McCormack and Garvan pointed soon after half-time but their scores were either side of a nice effort by Kildare corner-back Hugh McGrillen, who followed Shane Conlon up the field, and angled over from under the stand. That was a sign of things to come. Kildare hit four points in as many minutes to take the lead and although Brendan Quigley pulled one back for Laois, Kildare were only beginning to find their rhythm. They created countless overlaps as they attacked relentlessly as they kicked seven points in the last 15 minutes with Laois' only response coming from Padraig Clancy.

Laois have two weeks now until they travel to Armagh but on the evidence of what we saw last Sunday, they've got plenty of work to do to keep them busy.

SCORERS

KILDARE - Johnny Doyle 0-6 (five frees), Eamonn Callaghan 0-4, Dermot Earley 0-2, James Kavanagh, Eoghan O'Flaherty, Hugh McGrillen, Ken Donnelly, Alan Smith and Ronan Sweeney 0-1 each

LAOIS - Brendan Quigley 1-1, Ross Munnelly 0-3 (one free), Chris Bergin, Noel Garvan, Padraig Clancy and Brian McCormack 0-1 each

KILDARE: Shane McCormack; Morgan O'Flaherty, Declan Brennan, Hugh McGrillen; Brian Flanagan, Michael Foley, Michael Conway; Dermot Earley, Daryl Flynn; Eamon Callaghan, Ronan Sweeney, James Kavanagh; Eoghan O'Flaherty, Willie Heffernan, Johnny Doyle. Subs: Alan Smith for E O'Flaherty (48 mins) and Ken Donnelly for Heffernan (53 mins)

LAOIS: Michael Nolan (Portlaoise); Damien Murphy (Stradbally), Paul Begley (Stradbally), Rory Stapleton (Annanough); Peter O'Leary (O'Dempsey's), Ger Reddin (Mountmellick), Darren Strong (Emo); Noel Garvan (St Joseph's), Padraig Clancy (Timahoe); Brian McCormack (Portlaoise), Donie Brennan (Arles-Killeen), Brendan Quigley (Timahoe); Chris Bergin (The Heath), Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise), Shane Conlon (Mountmellick). Subs: Cathal Ryan (Portarlington) for Stapleton (injured – 9 mins), Peter McNulty for Conlon (53 mins), Niall Donoher for Strong (yellow card – 56 mins), Mark Timmons for Begley (61 mins), Jason Horan for McCormack (yellow card – 68 mins)

BOOKED: Paul Bergley, Padraig Clancy, Niall Donoher, Brian McCormack, Ross Munnelly (Laois); Michael Conway, Dermot Earley (Kildare)

YELLOW CARDED: Darren Strong, Brian McCormack

Referee: Pat McEnaney (Monaghan)

In Brief

Main Man – Dermot Earley (Kildare)

Earley was the driving force behind Kildare in the second half as he won a mountain of ball around midfield and chipped in with two points from play as well. He had been quieter in the first half, when Noel Garvan was on top, but he took over after the break and neither Garvan nor Brendan Quigley could stop him exerting a massive influence

Score(s) of the game

While Kildare landed 18 points, and Hugh McGrillen's effort just after half time was the pick of them, the two best scores of the day were scored by Laois. Brendan Quigley's goal was brilliantly finished after he won a high ball in the square and somehow managed to find space to get his shot in. Chris Bergin's point was just as impressive though after he won a long ball from Ger Reddin and moved into the space to kick his score

Talking Point

While the Laois supporters had very little to shout about in the second half, it was quite notable in the stand that the Kildare supporters were in the majority. If Laois can't get a good home support for a game against Kildare, then what chance is there for the less interesting home clashes against Cork, Fermanagh or Monaghan, or the away trips to Armagh, Wexford or Meath?

They outscored Laois by 0-12 to 0-4 in the second half as they clocked up a tally almost twice what they’d usually hit.

Ross Munnelly, who was brilliant in the opening half, got the game off to a good start when he landed a great point from play from the left wing but Eoghan O’Flaherty and James Kavanagh responded for Kildare only for Munnelly to swing over from the opposite corner to level things up.

Eamonn Callaghan got the first of his four points after a good run by Ronan Sweeney but a Munnelly free, after Quigley was fouled in front of goal, tied the scores again. A brave block by Paul Begley on Callaghan denied Kildare a goal chance and, within minutes, Laois had the ball in the net. Quigley won a high ball in the square and, despite being surrounded by Kildare defenders, fired an unstoppable effort to the roof of the Kildare net from a tight angle after 17 minutes.

The play was frantic from there until the end of the half but Laois would only get one more score – a fabulous point from Chris Bergin after he won a long delivery from Ger Reddin – as points from Callaghan and Doyle (two frees) left just one point in at the break.

With Kildare squandering chance after chance at one end, Laois were guilty of some poor shooting too and Shane McCormack in the Kildare goal was kept busy gathering the shots that dropped short into his hands.

McCormack and Garvan pointed soon after half-time but their scores were either side of a nice effort by Kildare corner-back Hugh McGrillen, who followed Shane Conlon up the field, and angled over from under the stand. That was a sign of things to come. Kildare hit four points in as many minutes to take the lead and although Brendan Quigley pulled one back for Laois, Kildare were only beginning to find their rhythm. They created countless overlaps as they attacked relentlessly as they kicked seven points in the last 15 minutes with Laois’ only response coming from Padraig Clancy.

Laois have two weeks now until they travel to Armagh but on the evidence of what we saw last Sunday, they’ve got plenty of work to do to keep them busy.

KILDARE: Shane McCormack; Morgan O’Flaherty, Declan Brennan, Hugh McGrillen; Brian Flanagan, Michael Foley, Michael Conway; Dermot Earley, Daryl Flynn; Eamon Callaghan, Ronan Sweeney, James Kavanagh; Eoghan O’Flaherty, Willie Heffernan, Johnny Doyle. Subs: Alan Smith for E O’Flaherty (48 mins) and Ken Donnelly for Heffernan (53 mins)

LAOIS: Michael Nolan (Portlaoise); Damien Murphy (Stradbally), Paul Begley (Stradbally), Rory Stapleton (Annanough); Peter O’Leary (O’Dempsey’s), Ger Reddin (Mountmellick), Darren Strong (Emo); Noel Garvan (St Joseph’s), Padraig Clancy (Timahoe); Brian McCormack (Portlaoise), Donie Brennan (Arles-Killeen), Brendan Quigley (Timahoe); Chris Bergin (The Heath), Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise), Shane Conlon (Mountmellick). Subs: Cathal Ryan (Portarlington) for Stapleton (injured – 9 mins), Peter McNulty for Conlon (53 mins), Niall Donoher for Strong (yellow card – 56 mins), Mark Timmons for Begley (61 mins), Jason Horan for McCormack (yellow card – 68 mins)

BOOKED: Paul Bergley, Padraig Clancy, Niall Donoher, Brian McCormack, Ross Munnelly (Laois); Michael Conway, Dermot Earley (Kildare)

YELLOW CARDED: Darren Strong, Brian McCormack

Referee: Pat McEnaney (Monaghan)

In Brief

Main Man – Dermot Earley (Kildare)

Earley was the driving force behind Kildare in the second half as he won a mountain of ball around midfield and chipped in with two points from play as well. He had been quieter in the first half, when Noel Garvan was on top, but he took over after the break and neither Garvan nor Brendan Quigley could stop him exerting a massive influence

Score(s) of the game

While Kildare landed 18 points, and Hugh McGrillen’s effort just after half time was the pick of them, the two best scores of the day were scored by Laois. Brendan Quigley’s goal was brilliantly finished after he won a high ball in the square and somehow managed to find space to get his shot in. Chris Bergin’s point was just as impressive though after he won a long ball from Ger Reddin and moved into the space to kick his score

Talking Point

While the Laois supporters had very little to shout about in the second half, it was quite notable in the stand that the Kildare supporters were in the majority. If Laois can’t get a good home support for a game against Kildare, then what chance is there for the less interesting home clashes against Cork, Fermanagh or Monaghan, or the away trips to Armagh, Wexford or Meath?

 
 
 

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