A welcome return to winning ways for Kildare footballers, even if the performance was far from perfect and Clare might count themselves unlucky not to have taken something from the game. With better individual performances all around the pitch it was actually hard enough to pick an outright man of the match. Irish Independent ratings are in brackets for comparison.
Mark Donnellan 7 (7) – customary point blank save one-on-one and was imperious and commanding under high ball while kickouts worked out ok. We’ll forgive the stumble near the end that put the heart across me.
Mark Dempsey 6 (7) – did a lot of good things but gave up a goal chance with a bad pass which Jamie Malone thankfully spurned. Caught in possession again in the second-half and needs to be stronger come out with the ball.
Mick O’Grady 7 (7)– kept David Tubridy very quiet and is making the full back position his own.
David Hyland 6 (7)– Made some good interceptions and one excellent block in particular but hard to rate higher when Clare found us so easy to run through. The senior defenders have to step up more in that scenario. Scored a very important point when we we badly needed it.
Peter Kelly 6 (7) – Quiet enough return to the fold and not as tigerish as we needed in the half-back line given Clare’s pace.
Eoin Doyle 6 (8) – the primary task of a centre back is defending, particularly in a six-man set up. Usual questions therefore have to surface about his role and when his opposite numbers in each half (which looked like Malone and then Cleary) score eight points from play, I can’t give him more than 6 despite his regular involvement on the ball and usual workrate.
Jason Gibbons 7 (7) – promising debut. Did very little wrong and is an out-and-out defender which is perhaps what we need most back there.
* Kevin Feely 8 (8) – Marginal call as Man of the Match. What a great battle he had with Gary Brennan and Feely dominated the aerial exchanges while Brennan was better covering the ground. Feely’s involvement and distribution was back to something like his best and his partnership with Tommy Moolick gave us a foothold in an area where Clare often prosper. Penalty expertly slotted again as well.
Tommy Moolick 7 (7) – has been patiently waiting for game time and showed a lot of his old strengths here, buttressing midfield with Feely. Started like a train with something to prove and those two early long-range points were classy and did more than anything to blow away any lingering lack of confidence in our shooting after Enniskillen. Probably did enough to retain his place for Navan.
Fergal Conway – 7 (7) – back in his more regular wing forward position Conway was his all-action self. Thought he could have had a shot or two but a sound game overall.
Jimmy Hyland 7 (8) – interesting call from Cian O’Neill to play him at 11. rather than say McCormack or Flynn, but it worked out well. Jimmy had little room to manoeuvre but battled non-stop and did a decent job as a link man while knocking over three points from play.
Keith Cribbin 6 (6) – Average enough performance despite a couple of strong breaks. Didn’t feature in the play enough for a wing forward for me.
Ben McCormack 8 (8) – Closest to Feely for Man of the Match in my view, he gave experienced Clare defender Gordon Kelly a torrid time, resulting in one penalty and almost another later on. His point from near the sideline was sublime and sums up what he can do. Scored two other points from play and magnificent catch in second half set up Hyland for a point.
Paddy Brophy – 5 (6) – the Celbridge man is becoming the great conundrum and it’s starting to look as if injuries and confidence issues have taken a permanent toll on a player who had such a promising future in the game before he went to Australia. Played somewhere between half-forward and corner-forward here but prospered in neither area really. Very weak shot from a good mark in the second-half summed up his play.
Neil Flynn 7 (7) – good first half during which he reached the 100 point mark in double-quick time with four points, but went into his shell a bit after the break.
Aaron Masterson 6 (6) – decent outing again but struggled against such an experienced Clare midfield to win much clean possession.
Aaron Tyrrell 7 (7) – injected some pace and energy although his decision-making wasn’t always brilliant.
Kevin O’Callaghan – 5 (5) – black card was harsh, didn’t get much possession before that.
Cian O’Donoghue – 5 (6)- very little involvement after replacing Gibbons
James Murray – not on long enough