Jackie Cahill reports from Páirc Esler, Newry
SUPERSUB DAVID SLATTERY struck twice in the second half as Kildare earned a priceless victory in the race for promotion.
The Confey clubman netted with his first contribution of the game, in the 37th minute, having been introduced as a half-time substitute.
And Slattery was on target again 20 minutes from time as Cian O’Neill’s Kildare moved three points clear at the top of Division 2.
Kildare took the chance to pile the pressure on chasers Galway and Clare by claiming victory before their promotion rivals play.
For Down, this was a disappointing setback after two wins on the spin, and they’re now looking over their shoulders again, having harboured hopes of drawing level with Kildare at the top before throw-in.
In truth, this was a disappointing contest, particularly in the first half as Kildare played with the aid of a squally breeze.
At half-time, they were 0-4 to 0-3 clear, but the sides had managed just three points from play between them before the break.
Two of those were scored by Barry O’Hagan for Down, before his influence on the game diminished.
Kevin Feely knocked over a couple of vital frees for Kildare and goalkeeper Mark Donnellan opened their account from a ’45, having denied Ryan Johnston with a smart early save.
But the game-changer was Slattery’s introduction and in the 37th minute, he finished low to the corner after Daniel Flynn and Feely had created the opening.
With 20 minutes remaining, Slattery struck again and it was another excellent finish from the Confey man.
Niall Kelly, industrious all night, made inroads and released Slattery with an excellent handpass.
Slattery still had work to do but he slipped a shot low past Michael Cunningham in the Down goal.
The hosts, playing in front of 1700 spectators, were up against it now and their task wasn’t made any easier by a black card for sub Alan Davidson, who wasn’t long on the pitch before his dismissal.
Caolan Mooney kicked a couple of lovely second half points but Down would finish the game with 13 men.
With all six subs used, defender Darren O’Hagan limped off injured to leave Down with 14 men.
And they were without the services of sub Jerome Johnston for the closing minutes, after he became the second player black-carded on the night.
Scorers for Kildare: David Slattery 2-0, Kevin Feely 0-5f, Mark Donnellan (45), Ollie Lyons, Paul Cribbin & Tommy Moolick 0-1 each.
Scorers for Down: Darragh O’Hanlon 0-4f, Caolan Mooney & Barry O’Hagan 0-2 each, Kevin McKernan & Jerome Johnston 0-1 each.
1. Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)
2. Mick O’Grady (Celbridge)
3. David Hyland (Athy)
4. Ollie Lyons (Celbridge)
5. Johnny Byrne (Allenwood)
6. Eoin Doyle (Naas)
7. Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
8. Kevin Feely (Athy)
9. Tommy Moolick (Leixlip)
10. Fergal Conway (Celbridge)
11. Niall Kelly (Athy)
12. Paul Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
13. Cathal McNally (Johnstownbridge)
14. Daniel Flynn (Johnstownbridge)
18. Conor Hartley (Athy)
22. David Slattery for McNally (half-time)
17. Fionn Dowling for Hartley (54)
19. Éamonn Callaghan for Slattery (65)
20. Eddie Heavey for Moolick (68)
21. Shea Ryan for Conway (70)
24. Liam Healy for Doyle (70+5).
1. Michael Cunningham (Caisleán an Mhuillin)
2. Ryan McAleenan (Cumann Pheadair Naofa)
3. Brendan McArdle (Eanach Chluain)
4. Darren O’Hagan (Clauin Daimh)
5. Darragh O’Hanlon (Cill Chua)
6. Conaill McGovern (Boireann)
7. Coalan Mooney (Caisleán Ruairi)
8. Aidan Carr (Cluain Daimh)
9. Peter Turley (RGU Dún Phádraig)
10. Kevin McKernan (Boireann)
11. Conor Maginn (Áth Bhriain)
12. Joe Murphy (Baile Colmain)
13. Shay Millar (An Ghleann)
14. Barry O’Hagan (Cluain Daimh)
15. Ryan Johnston (Cill Chua)
18. Alan Davidson for Johnston (55)
20. Niall Donnelly for Carr (57)
23. Jerome Johnston for Davidson (b/c 63)
25. Mark Poland for Maginn (66)
26. Sean Dornan for Millar (69)
22. Cathal Magee for Turley (69).
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)
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