KILDARE 0-26 DOWN 0-15
Kildare hurlers chalked up their third successive win in the Kehoe Cup against Down in Hawkfield on Sunday afternoon with a performance that couldn’t have contrasted more with the narrow win against Wicklow the week before.
Both sides fielded a mixture of youth and experience, and the game will have little or no bearing on their League and McDonagh Cup clashes later this year, but Kildare manager David Herity will nonetheless be happy with the marker laid down and the emphatic nature of the win over a team who reached the Division 2A final last year.
With Brian Byrne back bringing his usual composure to the sweeper position, Jack Travers on fire at wing back and Cathal McCabe his usual workaholic self in midfield, Herity’s side laid an early foundation with the game’s first six points, quickly putting the wastefulness of the Wicklow game behind them.
James Burke was another to show his class, both with his shooting and distribution while Declan Flaherty looked a good option at full forward after his first-half introduction. The only negatives for Herity really were injuries to Cathal Dowling and Jack Higgins that forced their withdrawal.
Leixlip’s Travers, who took a lot of physical punishment from the Down men, got Kildare off the mark within two minutes and further scores from McCabe, Dowling, Paul Dolan and two Burke frees gave them a confidence-boosting start.
Down, who shot ten first-half wides, got themselves onto the scoreboard after 16 minutes from a Chris Egan free but Kildare continued in the ascendancy. Three points from Burke and further scores from Travers (2), McCabe (2), Johnny Byrne, and substitute Declan Flaherty helped them into a 0-15 to 0-5 half-time lead.
Down lifted their game in the second half, with wing forward Pearse Óg McCrickard proving a lively presence in their attach and it developed into a much more even affair. But with Kildare using all their outfield substitutes the game lost its pattern somewhat. That said a tally of 26 points is not to be sneezed at, even if the Lilywhites didn’t manage a goal scoring opportunity over the course of the seventy minutes.
David Qualter, who had a quiet opening period, topped the scoring charts in the second half with three scores with Burke and Flaherty weighing in with two each. Kildare ended the game with ten different scorers with McCabe, Dolan, Brian Byrne, and young substitute Reece Gavin also getting on the scoresheet in the second half.
At the other end Down threatened a couple of times to raise a green flag but Paddy McKenna produced a fine save from a low Oisin McManus drive and another from Tom McGrattan and was solid under the dropping ball throughout.
Kildare can sew up their first Kehoe Cup title since 2016 with a draw or win against Meath next Saturday lunchtime in Rathmolyon before the League commences the following weekend away to Carlow.
KILDARE: Paddy McKenna; Simon Leacy, Sean Christianseen, Cormac Byrne; Jack Travers 0-3, Cian Shanahan, Harry Carroll; Cathal McCabe 0-4, Paul Dolan 0-2; Johnny Byrne 0-1, James Burke 0-7 (4fs), Jack Higgins; Brian Byrne 0-1, David Qualter 0-3 (2fs), Cathal Dowling 0-1. Subs: Killian Aherne for Dowling 25, Declan Flaherty 0-3 for Higgins 31, Drew Costello for Carroll 49, Frank Bass for Burke 57, Reece Gavin 0-1 for Dolan 57, Sean Whelan for McCabe 61, Peter O’Donoghue for C Byrne 61, Micheál Hogan for Shanahan 61.
DOWN: Stephen Keith; John McManus, Barry Trainor, Tom Murray; Caolan Teggart, Matt Conlon, Niall McFarland; Jordan Doran 0-1, Liam Savage; Ryan McCusker, Chris Egan 0-6 (5fs), Pearse Óg McCrickard 0-5 (1f); Tim Prenter, Oisin McManus 0-1, Paul Sheehan 0-1. Subs: Tom McGrattan for McCusker 45, Sean Campbell 0-1 for Sheehan 51, Padraig Doran for Prenter 58, Jason Croskery for Egan 60.
Referee: Derek Ryan (Meath).