Paul Fitzpatrick reports from Páirc Tailteann, Navan
LEINSTER CHAMPIONS KILDARE hung on to beat a strong-finishing Cavan in a fantastic All-Ireland minor football quarter-final in Páirc Tailteann this evening.
A huge Lilywhites side, who looked physically stronger all over, raced into a six-point half-time lead which could easily have been double.
They went ahead 0-3 to 0-0, thanks to three frees from Ciaran Kelly, before Cavan even launched an attack and the margin was extended to four, from another Kelly free, before Matthew Kelly released the young Clane man for a terrific goal in the 17th minute.
By that stage, Cavan had spurned a great chance of their own, Ryan O’Neill firing inches wide of the post, and although Thomas Edward Donohoe opened the Ulster finalists’ account via the fist, excellent points from Matthew Kelly and Rory Feely helped Kildare into a 1-8 to 0-1 lead.
Cavan, though, replied with a super goal from Donohoe, created by Darragh Kennedy, and when James Brady rose highest to palm home moments later, they were back in the game.
But Kildare steadied the ship with Ciaran Kelly on target again as they went in 1-11 to 2-2 in front at the break.
The second half was exhilarating, both sides pouring forward. Kildare started with a point but Cavan soon had them on the back foot, Donohoe firing over two great points and sub Darragh Gannon two more, with Ciaran Kelly on the mark for the Lillies.
A free from Robbie Fitzpatrick and a point from wing-back Dillon Raythorne brought the Breffni boys back to within three but Kildare rattled the net again through Jimmy Hyland.
In a helter skelter final quarter, Gannon and Ciaran Kelly exchanged scores before David Brady landed a free and a 45 to drag Cavan closer.
They had one final chance when the same player fielded brilliantly in the square but Kildare held on to edge a brilliant game.
Scorers for Kildare: Ciaran Kelly (1-7, 5f), Jimmy Hyland (1-4, 1f), Rory Feely (0-1), Matthew Kelly (0-1), Ethan O’Donohue (0-1)
Scorers for Cavan: Thomas Edward Donohoe (1-2), David Brady (0-3, 1f, 1 45), James Brady (1-0), Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-3, 2f), Darragh Gannon (0-2), Dillon Raythorne (0-2),
1. Declan Campbell (Raheens)
2. Ronan Slattery (Eadestown)
3. Mike Joyce (Round Towers)
4. Darren Lawlor (Rheban)
5. Sean Healy (Moorefield)
6. Shea Ryan (Sarsfields)
7. Gavin Burke (Two Mile House)
8. Daniel Courtney (Kilcock)
9. Rory Feely (Athy)
10. Conor Hartley (Sarsfields)
11. Ethan O’Donohue (Clane)
12. Stefan Lawler (Rathangan)
13. Ciaran Kelly (Clane)
14. Matthew Kelly (Round Towers)
15. Jimmy Hyland (Aylmer Gaels)
Sam Doran for Lawler (blood sub, 36)
Kevin O’Callaghan for Ryan (black card, 45)
Tony Archbold for Healy (53)
Kevin Flynn for M Kelly (59)
1. Fergal O’Rourke (Laragh)
2. Luke Fortune (Cavan Gaels)
3. Patrick O’Reily (Crosserlough)
4. Lewis Fay-Cooper (Killinkere)
5. Dillon Raythorne (Templeport)
6. Donal Monahan (Drumlane)
7. David Wilson (Lacken)
8. Darragh Kennedy (Killygarry)
9. Conor Brady (Gowna)
10. Ryan O’Neill (Kildallan)
11. Thomas Edward Donohoe (Denn)
12. Rhys Clarke (Bailieborough)
13. Robbie Fitzpatrick (Gowna)
14. David Brady (Ballyhaise)
15. James Brady (Ramor United)
Conor Smith for J Brady (41)
Darragh Gannon for O’Neill (30)
Stephen Smith for Gannon (50)