Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Kildare survive Monaghan fightback

Kildare leapfrogged over both Monaghan and Cork to take top spot in the Allianz Football league when they recorded a first victory over Monaghan since 1982.

In the early stages it looked as if Kildare would canter to victory as they completely dominated the exchanges with Monaghan failing to produce anything like the form they had shown in previous rounds and but for some erratic finishing and some last-ditch defending Kildare could have had the game out of sight by the half way mark.

In the second-half it was a totally different affair as Monaghan dug in and turned it around to level the game with five minutes to go.

Kildare led by the five points after 11 minutes, thanks to Eamonn Callaghan, Mark Scanlon, John Doyle (2), one from a free, and Ken Donnelly.

Monaghan opened their account through Mark Downey in the 12th minute and were thrown a real life line when they were awarded a penalty in the 20th minute after Dick Clerkin was grounded and Tomas Freeman dispatched his effort to bring Monaghan back into contention.

Kildare responded with a spirited six minutes period that finished with Ronan Sweeney flashing to the Monaghan net in the 22nd minute to open a seven points gap.

Monaghan pulled back two points through Rory Woods and a Freeman free, but things still looked bleak for the home side when they trailed by five at the break on a half-time score of Kildare 1-9, Monaghan 1-4.

Monaghan were a transformed side in the second-half even though Kildare opened with a point by James Kavanagh, but four unanswered points for Monaghan reduced the margin to two.

That was a period too that saw Kildare have John Doyle yellow carded as Monaghan's star was now in the ascendancy and points by Freeman and two long-range efforts by Darren Hughes had the sides deadlocked at 1-11 apiece.

That was as good as it got for the home side with Kildare finishing strongly as points by Ronan Sweeney, Karl Ennis and Alan Smith sealed victory.

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