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McNally and Flynn hit 2-7 as Kildare swat Meath aside to reach first Leinster final since 2009

Kildare powered to a nine-point win in Tullamore today.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Kildare 2-16

Meath 0-13

Kevin O’Brien reports from Bord na Mona O’Connor Park

KILDARE POWERED INTO their first Leinster final in eight years with a commanding defeat of Meath in Tullamore today.

The trajectory of Kildare football continues to rise and rise under manager Cian O’Neill. Today represents another significant milestone for this rapidly improving group of players.

Paddy Brophy, who only recently returned from Australia, was a late addition to the Kildare attack but it was his fellow forwards Cathal McNally (1-3) and Daniel Flynn (1-4) who really impressed with 2-7 from play between them.

Kildare led nine points at half-time after completing ripping Meath apart with a scintillating performance. It could have been worse. Kildare kicked 10 wides in a wind-assisted first-half.

Shane McEntee, Conor McGill, Pauric Harnan and Donnacha Tobin tackle Daniel Flynn Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A dominant, athletic half-back line of Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle and Keith Cribbin laid the groundwork for the victory, while wing-forward David Slattery was also excellent.

A likely Leinster final against Dublin awaits, provided they overcome Westmeath in the other semi-final on Sunday. Under O’Neill the Lilywhites look well-drilled, fit and primed to give Dublin their sternest test in the province in some time.

Meath played with Bryan McMahon and Donal Lenihan acting as inside forwards and Graham Reilly dropping out to form a three-man midfield.

Kildare were slightly more offensive with six out-and-out attackers, although wing-forwards Fergal Conway and Slattery did drop deep when they lost possession.

The Niall Kelly-Flynn axis held their shape on the 45, while the full-forward pair of McNally and Brophy were major threats inside.

Meath managed to stick with Kildare for a good ten minutes, before O’Neill’s side turned up the heat and powered clear.

Conor McGill and Paddy Brophy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McNally’s 13th minute goal was a microcosm of the opening half. David Hyland, who followed Graham Reilly out to midfield, had time and space to pick out the Johnstonownbridge attacker with a long kick-pass inside. McNally toasted Donnacha Tobin and had time to place a neat finish past Paddy O’Rourke.

Kildare led by 1-8 to 0-4 at the interval, as Messrs McNally, Flynn and Brophy went into the break with 1-7 between them from play.

Six minutes into the second-half and Meath had doubled their tally thanks to a brace apiece from Lenihan and O’Coileain.

A couple of booming Bryan Menton efforts followed, but Kevin Feely’s frees kept daylight between the sides.

The fizz went out of Meath’s game down the final furlong as late Kildare points followed from Daniel Flynn, substitutes Eamonn Callaghan and Neil Flynn, before Slattery set Flynn up for the cherry on top.

Scorers for Kildare: Daniel Flynn 1-4, Cathal McNally 1-3, Kevin Feely 0-5 (0-4f), Paddy Brophy 0-2, Eamonn Callaghan 0-1.

Scorers for Meath: Donal Lenihan 0-5 (0-2f), Ruairi O’Coileain 0-3, Bryan Menton 0-2, James Toher, Mickey Burke and Shane McEntee 0-1 each.

Kildare

1.Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)

4. Ollie Lyons (Celbridge)
2. Mick O Grady (Celbridge)
3. David Hyland (Athy)

7. Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)|
6. Eoin Doyle (Naas)
5. Johnny Byrne (Allenwood)

8. Kevin Feely (Athy)
9. Tommy Moolick (Leixlip)

10. Fergal Conway (Celbridge)
11. Niall Kelly (Athy)
12. David Slattery (Confey)

13. Cathal McNally (Johnstownbridge)
14. Daniel Flynn (Johnstownbridge)
15. Paddy Brophy (Celbridge)

Subs

19. Eamonn Callaghan (Naas) for Brophy (49)
17. Fionn Dowling (Suncroft) for Moolick (58)
22. Chris Healy (Two Mile House) for McNally (61)
18. Peter Kelly (Two Mile House)  for Hyland (64)
20. Emmet Bolton (Eadestown) for Byrne (69)
26. Neil Flynn (Maynooth) for Doyle (69)

Meath

1. Paddy O’Rourke (Skryne)

3. Conor McGill (Ratoath)
6. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)
4. Donnacha Tobin (Blackhall Gaels)

5. Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey)
2. Mickey Burke (Longwood)
7. Shane McEntee (St Peter’s, Dunboyne)

8. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
9. Ronan Jones (St Peter’s, Dunboyne)

10. James Toher (Trim)
11. Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)
12. Eamon Wallace (Ratoath)

13. Graham Reilly (St Colmcille’s)
14. Bryan McMahon (Ratoath)
15. Donal Lenihan (St Peter’s, Dunboyne)

Subs

17. James McEntee (Curraha) for Toher (28)
19. Ruairi O Coileain (Navan O’Mahonys) for Wallace (ht)
20. Brian Conlon (Simonstown Gaels) for Jones (47)
21. Thomas O’Reilly (Wolfe Tones) for McMahon (52)
23. Sean Tobin (Simonstown Gaels) for Reilly (57)

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

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Kevin O'Brien

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