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Kildare power past Mayo to be crowned Christy Ring Cup champions

Gerry Keegan hit 0-10 for the Lilywhites in Croke Park.

Kildare's Pat Leahy with his daughter Olivia after the game.
Kildare's Pat Leahy with his daughter Olivia after the game.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

Kildare 2-29

Mayo 0-19

IT WASN’T THE the 30-point hammering that Mayo endured when these two counties met in the first round of this year’s Christy Ring Cup competition at Ballina, but there was still no mistaking the gulf in class between the sides in this evening’s championship final at Croke Park, as Kildare proved beyond doubt that they belong at Joe McDonagh Cup level.

In truth, if Kildare needed to win by 30 points again, they possibly could have. They led by 15 at half-time and pushed that margin out to 19 early in the second half, before Mayo rallied in the last 20 minutes to salvage further pride at the end of an impressive first season in this company, having just won the Nickey Rackard Cup 12 months ago.

Gerry Keegan’s ten-point haul will take a lot of the headlines, and rightly so as the Celbridge player produced a masterclass in finishing, but also in his timing and awareness of space, putting himself in good positions time and again throughout the game.

Nonetheless, there was a lot like about the hurling produced by David Herity’s side all across the field, as they ensured that no Mayo player scored more than 0-2 from play, and dominated the physical exchanges under both puckouts.

Even in the opening minutes, when the first four scores of the game were equally shared between the teams, there was a sense that Mayo were doing well just to hang on in contention. Keegan crashed one shot off the post, while Kildare also butchered a goal chance when they had an overlapping player, Gary Nolan coming up with the vital interception to avert the danger.

Quick wrists from Keegan and a long range strike from Cathal McCabe gave Kildare a bit of a forward push, but they were set firmly on the path to victory when Brian Byrne crashed in their first goal in the tenth minute.

There was a touch of misfortune on the Mayo side as Bobby Douglas did well to block the initial attempts from Byrne and Shane Ryan, but he could do nothing as Byrne seized on the sliotar and third time and whipped it across the goal and into the top corner.

From then on, the floodgates opened and by half time, there was no way back for Mayo. James Burke’s points from play and from frees put distance between the sides while Cathal Dowling raised the second green flag, batting the ball to the net after he powered along the end line and created an angle for himself under the shade of the Davin Stand.

Kildare’s 2-17 to 0-8 half-time lead was further extended when Burke, Keegan, McCabe and Dowling all struck good scores early in the second half, but there was an understandable drop in intensity from then on, allowing Mayo to build up their tally. Shane Boland added a wonderful score from the Cusack Stand side of the ground in between a series of dead ball scores, Joseph McManus fired over two from distance while Kenny Feeney added three after coming off the bench.

These were all cosmetic changes to the scoreboard however, as Kildare’s progression back up to the second level of the national hurling structure was more than assured.

Scorers for Kildare: James Burke 0-11 (0-7f, 0-1 65), Gerry Keegan 0-10, Brian Byrne 1-2, Cathal Dowling 1-1, Cathal McCabe 0-3, Shane Ryan 0-1, Paul Dolan 0-1.

Scorers for Mayo: Shane Boland 0-10 (0-8f), Kenny Feeney 0-3 (0-1f), Joseph McManus 0-2, Eoin Delaney 0-1, Joseph Mooney 0-1 (sideline), Keith Higgins 0-1, Seán Kenny 0-1f.

Kildare

1 Paddy McKenna (Clane)

2 Niall Ó Muineacháin (Celbridge), 3 Simon Leacy (Naas), 4 Cathal Derivan (Leixlip)

5 Kevin Whelan (Naas), 6 Rian Boran (Naas), 7 Conan Boran (Naas)

8 Cathal McCabe (Maynooth), 9 Paul Divilly (Confey)

11 James Burke (Naas), 10 Gerry Keegan (Celbridge), 12 Johnny Byrne (Coill Dubh)

13 Brian Byrne (Naas), 14 Shane Ryan (Naas), 15 Cathal Dowling (Naas)

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Subs

  • Jack Travers (Leixlip) for Derivan (43)
  • Mark Delaney (Coill Dubh) for Divilly (44)
  • Jack Sheridan (Naas) for Ryan (47)
  • Seán Christiansen (Clane) for Whelan (57)
  • Paul Dolan (Éire Óg Corra Choill) for Dowling (63)
  • Tom Finnerty (Celbridge) for C Boran (63, temp).

Mayo

1 Bobby Douglas (Tooreen)

4 Paul Kirwan (Ballyhaunis), 3 Stephen Coyne (Tooreen), 2 Gary Nolan (Tooreen)

5 Mark Phillips (Ballyhaunis), 6 Gerard McManus (St. Jude’s), 7 David Kenny (Tooreen)

8 Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis), 9 Daniel Huane (Tooreen)

10 Seán Kenny (Tooreen), 11 Joseph Mooney (Loughrea), 12 Adrian Phillips (Ballyhaunis)

14 Joseph McManus (St. Jude’s), 15 Shane Boland (Tooreen), 13 Eoin Delaney (Tooreen)

Subs

  • Kenny Feeney (Tooreen) for Kirwan (30)
  • Eoghan Roe (Claremorris) for Phillips (half-time)
  • Conal Hession (Tooreen) for Ruane (49)
  • Patrick Lyons (Tooreen) for Delaney (63)
  • Brian Hunt (Ballyhaunis) for S Kenny (67).

Referee: Michael Kennedy (Tipperary).

About the author:

Kevin Egan

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