HomeFootballGer Brennan’s Louth make second Leinster final in a row as Kildare’s...

Ger Brennan’s Louth make second Leinster final in a row as Kildare’s horrible year continues


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The crowd was tiny in Croke Park – Kildare were greeted to the pitch 15 minutes before throw-in by just a light ripple of applause – but you could feel the weightiness of what was at stake in the bright evening air.

The butterfly effect of Armagh’s win over Down last night meant that Louth’s place in this year’s All-Ireland round-robin series was already secured before throw-in.

That bit of business was ticked off. Kildare, meanwhile, faced a far graver equation. Just because it was straightforward doesn’t mean it was simple. Beat Louth or spend the high summer months paddling around football’s murky backwaters in the Tailteann Cup.

In culinary terms, it was all duck or no dinner.

It has been a desperate year for Kildare. Relegation to Division 3 is one thing, but losing all seven games, as they contrived to, takes some doing.

The hope among the very few who travelled to Croke Park today was, presumably, that their near-death experience against Wicklow would have some profound effect on the team.

Everything would have a new perspective and they would live every day – and play every game – as if it was their last.

This is to discount how poorly organised Kildare have looked all year. A theme that continued in Croke Park today. In the end, Louth won by four but were quite a bit better than that and Ger Brennan won’t have to watch too much tape of the game back for evidence of underperformance.

A theory that got plenty of traction when Brennan took the job from Mickey Harte was that he could only take Louth backwards. That they had maxed out with Mickey Harte and the sour nature of his leaving would force the group backwards before they could move in the other direction.

The unofficial title of Leinster’s second-best team might not be one to which they aspire, but a second provincial final spot in a row negates further discussion.

Louth took a four-point lead with them to half-time, scoring six on the spin between the 20th and 30th minutes to put a tangible expression on their superiority.

Sam Mulroy kept the scoreboard ticking. In all, eight Louth players scored. Kildare had issues with their frees – Kevin Feely missed three in the first half. They also failed to profit from Daniel Flynn’s movement, butchering a couple of goals chances he opened up.

They won by four in the end, but that didn’t tell the real story of the game.

SCORERS – Louth: S Mulroy 0-7 (4f, 1 ’45); T Durnin, C Lennon, C Grimes 0-2 each; P Mathews, N Sharkey, R Burns, C Downey 0-1 each. Kildare: K Feely 0-4 (2f); S Farrell 0-3 (3f); P Woodgate (2f), D Kirwan 0-2 each; D Flynn, T Archbold 0-1 each.

LOUTH: N McDonnell; D McKenny, D Corcoran, P Lynch; N Sharkey, A Williams, C McKeever; C Grimes, T Durnin; C Lennon, C Keenan, C Downey; R Burns, S Mulroy, P Mathews. Subs: L Gray for Sharkey (52), C Early for Burns (55), B Duffy for Corcoran (57), C Byrne for Matthews (69), C Murphy for Downey (72).

KILDARE: M Donnellan; R Burke, S Ryan, M O’Grady; J Sargent, E Doyle, P McDermott; A Masterson, A Beirne; K O’Callaghan, N Kelly, S Farrell; K Feely, D Kirwan, D Flynn. Subs: B Kelly for Beirne (41), P Woodgate for Kelly (50), T Archbold for Burke (55), L Killian for O’Callaghan (59), S O’Sullivan for Masterson (68).

REF: C Lane (Cork).

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