Hero: Emmet Bolton celebrates his remarkable last-gasp equaliser Inpho

As it happened: Kildare v Limerick, All Ireland SFC Round 3 Qualifier

It took an amazing injury-time equaliser from Emmet Bolton to save his side, but the Lilywhites kicked on and somehow escape. A remarkable evening and we had it all live right here.

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Result: Kildare 0-19 Limerick 0-12 (AET)

Welcome to Portlaoise for Kildare’s home qualifier against Limerick. Of course Newbridge had its capacity slashed by the health and safety authorities thus the venue switch which led to all sorts of conspiracy theories. But anyone who has been to Newbridge will probably be glad they are here on what is a nice evening – it’s mild, still and dry. Ideal for football and there are toilets with running water. Viva the Celtic Tiger.

There’s a place at Sligo in the last 12 up for grabs at a neutral venue and Kildare are hot favourites. They have never lost a qualifier under Kieran McGeeney and this is a side that were considered certainly provincial contenders and possibly All Ireland contenders before their shock loss to Meath. On top of that, they looked to hit a high gear in dismantling Cavan last week and have become experts at getting passed lesser teams.

Are Limerick a lesser team? Yes and by some distance. One win against Longford can’t plaster over a wretched season where they couldn’t get out of Division Four and couldn’t get past Clare to reach a Munster final. They’ve been without their heart and soul John Galvin for vast tracts of the year but there is one upside. Aside from Galvin, they’ve finally got their strongest line-up on the pitch. Johnny McCarthy excelled at three last week while the midfield diamond of Lucey, Donovan, Buckey and Kelly does look strong and that’s an area they’ll have to obliterate Kildare in to have a chance.
Even at that though, we can’t see them pulling this off. They may stay close for a while but should be run out of steam by the last quarter. Indeed in our preview we said Kildare will win by eight and nothing on the journey to O’Moore Park changed our minds. If you want to know why we think it’ll be so comfortable, here is that preview.
We aren’t far from throw-in now – about 10 minutes – so here are the teams and there’s one change to the Kildare side with Ollie Lyons in at corner-back for Aindriu Mac Lochlainn.
Kildare: S Connolly; O Lyons, P Kelly, H McGrillen; E Bolton, M O’Flaherty, E Doyle; M Foley, R Kelly; E O’Flaherty, M Conway, A Smith; J Doyle, T O’Connor, J Kavanagh
Limerick: B Scanlon; A Lane, J McCarthy, L O’Dwyer; J Riordan, S Lucey, P Ranahan; J Donovan, S Buckley; E O’Connor, S Kelly, P Browne; G Collins, S O’Carroll, I Ryan.

The referee is Barry Cassidy from Derry.

There’s a good crowd here, the stand is full, the far terrace is half full and not surprisingly it’s pretty much all white. They may not have home advantage in name, but it’ll feel like it for Kildare. The teams are finishing their warm-ups and we’ll be underway shortly.

National anthem just coming to its conclusion, Limerick stand with their subs on the touchline. Kildare’s starting 15 stand alone at the town end.

We are underway and John Doyle hits an early wide after a good move straight from Mick Foley collecting the kickout. Stephen Lucey is gone into full-back to pick up Tomas O’Connor from the off. Peter Kelly is trailing Ian Ryan at the other end while Hugh McGrillen is on Seamus O’Carroll.

5 minutes: Kildare 0-0 Limerick 0-0: Lorcan O’Dwyer is noted but not booked for a high tackle on Alan Smith. Kildare are glad to get a free though as Limerick have 13 in their own half when the opposition are in possession.  They are looking to clog up all the channels. That’s wasted by Eoghan O’Flaherty. Kildare have been very hit and miss from fress this season.

7 minutes: Kildare 0-1 Limerick 0-0: Mick Foley and Seanie Buckley getting to know each other in midfield, Stephen Kelly the peace maker for now, we’ll keep an eye on that. Kildare on top possession-wise and as expected Tomas O’Connor the focal point. He is fouled in front of the posts. O’Flaherty does get this one.

1o minutes: Kildare 0-1 Limerick 0-1: Ollie Lyons has started really well on Ger Collins and if Limerick lose possession after committing numbers they could be opened up due to the pace differential. That’s what happens there but Emmet Bolton fluffs a goal chance after a glorious pass by James Kavanagh. Ian Ryan punishes that miss with a free at the other end.

13 minutes: Kildare 0-2 Limerick 0-2: A great move sees Ian Ryan get in behind Peter Kelly there but he shoots over from close range with the goal gaping. More shoving follows that score. But at the other end there’s danger every time Kildare attack. O’Connor is dropping out to deep, laying off ball and there’s room in behind with plenty of runners each time. Alan Smith finished off such a move there.

14 minutes: Kildare 0-2 Limerick 0-3: If Kildare are doing it as a team, Ian Ryan is doing it by himself. He’s tormenting Peter Kelly, gets inside him for the second time in minutes and this time he’s hauled down. No yellow card but an easy free for the corner-forward.

16 minutes: Kildare 0-3 Limerick 0-3: Back come Kildare and while it’s predictable, Limerick can’t stop it. Johnny Doyle feeds O’Connor who with his back to goal feeds James Kavanagh coming through. Nice score.

19 minutes: Kildare 0-3 Limerick 0-5: End to end stuff here and while some of the Limerick forwards are a little lateral, Ian Ryan is compensating. Great power in a shot there  to carry over from 35 from a standing start and he wins a free now. Kildare need to do something be it take Peter Kelly off him or double-team him. Ryan swings over that free.

22 minutes: Kildare 0-3 Limerick 0-5: Damien Quaid is on for Andrew Lane in the Limerick defence but a long ball at the other end sees Ryan go down, another free close in here and Kelly is furious with that. Eoin Doyle is booked for a late hit that led to that stoppage but Ryan misses that. All action here as Tomas O’Connor now goes into the book and Stephen Lucey applauds that call.

26 minutes: Kildare 0-3 Limerick 0-5: The Munster side have copped on to the Tomas O’Connor tactic. He’s getting ball with back to goal but when he lays it off, the next man is swamped and it’s forcing Kildare to go either lateral or backwards and it’s leading them to shoot from bad positions. John Doyle does just that here and it’s wide. Now Rob Kelly misses a much easier chance after great hands from Alan Smith finally created space and go-forward ball. The intensity just keeps going it up and up.  Really good game.

28 minutes: Kildare 0-3 Limerick 0-5: If there is one negative side affect of Limerick dropping so deep and playing with such intensity, it’s trying to get the ball from their own 30 to the opposition 21 with few or no men in between. When Ian Ryan does get it he has space but it takes broken tackles, pace and a lot of energy to cover the middle 2/3s of the ground.

32 minutes: Kildare 0-3 Limerick 0-5: John Doyle drops another short from way out but he had to take the shot as there is no room inside and that Limerick defence has been remarkable. How much will it take out of them though because they are already struggling to break like they were a mere 10 minutes ago?

33 minutes: Kildare 0-3 Limerick 0-5: Mikey Conway finally gets Kildare closer. They’ve dominated territory and possession since around the 20-minute mark. Their defence is mopping up a lot of poor ball going towards an isolated Ryan and Collins. The attendance is 11,345

35+1: Kildare 0-4 Limerick 0-6: Great score from Stephen Kelly. He goes off on one after that went over, one that would make John Mullane look subdued. Rope-a-dope stuff from the Treaty men.

Half-time: Kildare 0-4 Limerick 0-7: Pa Ranahan with a great score closes out the half. That was hot and heavy and a damn good game of football. Actually far more entertaining than the big match earlier. Can Limerick’s creaking bodies keep this up because Kildare cannot buy an inch inside the opposition 40? That’s a key question in all of this. Their defending has been immense and when Ian Ryan does get the ball he’s punishing Peter Kelly. Cracking second half ahead and we’ll be right back after we cool down.

Limerick out on the field for the second half. If they can keep up that intensity and Kildare continue with the slow approach play, then the shock is on. Granted, Kildare still not out. That dressing room may need repair after this.

And Kildare finally back out, they left Limerick waiting about three minutes there. We’ll be underway in seconds.

35 mins: Kildare 0-4 Limerick 0-7:  Underway, no changes on either side.

36 mins: Kildare 0-5 Limerick 0-7: Far more intent from Kildare there. They work it across the half-forward line, Rob Kelly overlaps and slots over. We saw little of that in the first half.

38 mins: Kildare 0-6 Limerick 0-7: Better again as Hugh McGrillen drills it in quick and long. A few bobbling balls later and Mick Foley has it close in and shoots over from 21.

40 mins: Kildare 0-6 Limerick 0-8: Ger Collins wins a free and Limerick needed that, to stall the game and get a score to settle them. But so much of that free was about Stephen Kelly. Serious pace and intent in his running there and all day, the key ball carrier in a game where defence and attack are separated by a lot of ground. Ian Ryan gets the free.

42 mins: Kildare 0-6 Limerick 0-9: And another one, this time Collins isn’t fouled and he dummies Ollie Lyons and threatens to shoot off the left, cuts back and points off the right. He’s started this second half well. Now it really is a twin threat there with Ian Ryan so dangerous.

46 mins: Kildare 0-7 Limerick 0-10: That was a pressure free for Mikey Conway there. He was poor from deadballs against Meath but stitches that one. Kildare need a few more of those, especially as Collins and Kelly set up Eoghan O’Connor for a patient score at the other end. Gap still at three and Limerick winning the midfield battle. It could have been six but Lorcan O’Dwyer – hugely physical performance from him – blasts across the face of goal.

48 mins: Kildare 0-8 Limerick 0-10: Padraig O’Neill and Seanie Johnston on for Kildare, Eoghan O’Flaherty and Rob Kelly off. Huge free from Conway as they settle in, he was 50 out and even with the breeze that was some effort.

50 mins: Kildare 0-8 Limerick 0-11: Seanie Johnston welcomed to the game by being pinned to the ground by Seanie Buckley. Linesman talks to referee but no action, what did they bother with the chat then? Lorcan O’Dwyer now picks him up although it’ll be mass defence when the ball is in there. But for now it’s at the other end as goalkeeper Brian Scanlon nails a 50. Ian Corbett on for Seamus O’Carroll.

54 mins: Kildare 0-8 Limerick 0-11: Another Limerick sub as the energy reserves run low, this time Bobby O’Brien on for Jim Donovan. The latter has covered serious yards. Barry Cassidy getting on Kildare fans’ nerves but so should this performance. They are on the ropes. They aren’t helped by Brian Scanlon pulling a ball from a yard over the crossbar after a shot by Padraig O’Neill. Now Tomas O’Connor is gone, Padraig Fogarty on, expect a more orthodox attack from here on in.

57 mins: Kildare 0-8 Limerick 0-11: Johnny Doyle and Padraig Fogarty both waste chances. They can’t afford any of that. Over 10 minutes since they scored, not a lot over 10 minutes left, still three in it.

58 mins: Kildare 0-9 Limerick 0-11: A clutch free from John Doyle from near the stand touchline, on the 40. Massive score. They need to follow it up with the next and pile the pressure on.

63 mins: Kildare 0-10 Limerick 0-11: Kildare hang on, a last-gasp block denies Ger Collins a key score. But Kildare get one back. Mick Foley did the dirty work and was taken out but only after giving the pass to James Kavanagh who scores. This place shakes with the noise although Mikey Conway wastes a chance to level.

66 mins: Kildare 0-10 Limerick 0-11: Eamonn Callaghan, out for so long with injury, comes on for Alan Smith as Brian Scanlon can’t covert a free from outside 50. Next score so crucial and Mick Foley has a chance but slices wide with the outside of the boot. Eleven wides each.

68 mins: Kildare 0-10 Limerick 0-11: Ger Collins off, John Cook on. Nail biting.

69 mins: Kildare 0-10 Limerick 0-11: Morgan O’Flaherty has a chance but drives wide on the run from 30.

70 mins: Kildare 0-10 Limerick 0-11: Two minutes of additional time, Limerick have a line ball at the Kildare end.

Full-time: Kildare 0-11 Limerick 0-11: Unbelievable. Last kick of the game and Emmett Bolton after a 70 yard run with two lay offs gets the ball back and pops over. Extra-time.

Limerick have returned to the dressing room, Kildare out on the field. What have either left in the tank. That was an unbelievable effort by Limerick, an unbelievable last score from Emmet Bolton too. We can’t emphasise how far he ran and to have the lungs and composure after 70 yards flat out and two lay offs to slot over at full pace, no wonder he’s an All Star!

Right, Limerick are back out, Kildare emerge from an intense 10-minute huddle. They should have the momentum but have Limerick one last kick. Here we go…

71 minutes: Kildare 0-13 Limerick 0-11: That’s the start Kildare wanted, to push on and finish this having escaped so dramatically. James Kavanagh opens the scoring and Eamonn Callaghan follows it up.

74 minutes: Kildare 0-13 Limerick 0-11: Limerick try to come back but are contained. They’ve shown some heart but after a decade of heart and heartbreak they want more than that. They want the win but it’s never looked further away. Emmet Bolton – the Kildare hero – is replaced by Gary White. On a sidenote, it’s getting dark here but floodlights still off. The danger being that would make sense.

77 minutes: Kildare 0-14 Limerick 0-11: Kildare are beginning to take over in the middle, break from there and create space as a result. That’s what they do now and Morgan O’Flaherty kicks over a pile of Limerick defenders for a lovely score.

79 minutes: Kildare 0-16 Limerick 0-11: Limerick are finally running on empty. Gary White wins a kickout, is fouled and Johnny Doyle extends the gap. Hard to see a way back for the Munster side. They are out on their feet after a phenomenal effort. There’s another one, Seanie Johnston with this. Morgan O’Flaherty is replaced by Eoghan O’Flaherty.

Half-time: Kildare 0-17 Limerick 0-11: The floodlights are finally on but there’s no light at the end of this tunnel for Limerick as Eoghan O’Flaherty kicks another one. How contrived a line was that!

80 minutes: Kildare 0-17 Limerick 0-11: We are underway for the second half of extra-time but after everything Limerick have been through across a decade you really have to feel for them. Another moral victory snatched from the jaws of an actual victory. There is time left, but there is nothing left in their legs. A formality from here you feel when nothing in normal time was.

82 minutes: Kildare 0-17 Limerick 0-11: Ian Corbett has a goal effort blocked although in truth he was a decent way out with bodies between him and some hope for his team.

84 minutes: Kildare 0-17 Limerick 0-12: John Riordan is gone, Stephen Kelly who covered miles and miles is back on. No footballer has more will power but surely he has nothing left to give after an exceptional performance in normal time where he carried so much ball? Limerick do have one back as Pa Ranahan wins a soft free, Ian Ryan kicks it. They have to go for goal surely from here on in though.

87 minutes: Kildare 0-18 Limerick 0-12: Pa Ranahan goes down with cramp as Mikey Conway takes off at top speed, sells a dummy and scores. That sums up extra-time.

89 minutes: Kildare 0-19 Limerick 0-12: Salt in a gaping wound, Seanie Johnston is the latest to score as Kildare go eight to one up in extra-time.

89 minutes, Kildare 0-19 Limerick 0-12: Stephen Kelly has lost it. That’s a sad end. He lays out Johnny Doyle, gets up, punches Eamonn Callaghan in the stomach and gets a yellow. No kidding but Barry Cassidy should never referee another game of intercounty based on that incident. Now Limerick are losing it elsewhere too.

Full-time, Kildare 0-19 Limerick 0-12: Limerick were immense for 70 minutes but that Emmet Bolton effort at the death just knocked them flat and extra-time was a procession. Kildare stumble on to face Sligo but have so much to work on. As for Limerick, can these guys get up off the canvas yet again. That was heart-breaking for them but what a game for the neutral.

Dublin v Meath – Leinster SFC final match guide
Kildare v Limerick — All-Ireland SFC qualifier round three match guide

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