Louth 2-11 Kildare 0-12
Revenge secured and the threat of relegation now a speck in their rear-view mirror, it was a highly productive afternoon for Louth in Ardee.
Technically, Mickey Harte’s men could still be sucked back down to Division 3 but after three consecutive wins, and with Cork and Dublin still to play, you’d get shorter odds on them actually securing promotion to Division 1.
Harte scoffed at that notion immediately after this win over a Kildare side that hammered Louth just last summer in the Championship, but stranger things have happened.
Goals from Man of the Match Tommy Durnin and Conor Grimes helped propel Louth to this win with Harte happily declaring they are now safe from relegation.
He acknowledged too that the memory of that 16-point Leinster quarter-final loss last year provided huge motivation.
“I think that still hurt the boys until now and they were determined that they wouldn’t get beaten like that again and, in doing so, they put up a really good performance,” said Harte. “We didn’t want to be walked over and beaten into the ground like we were last year. That was very, very humiliating for all of us and it really spurred us on.
“It’s only one result but an important one for us in many ways in that I think it keeps us safe now in this division which is special to be able to say with two games to go.”
Kildare’s problems, however, gather at pace. They trailed from the opening score of the game, Niall Sharkey’s seventh minute point, until full-time and never looked like picking up a second win of the campaign. Just a point ahead of rock bottom Limerick, they will travel to the Shannonsiders’ home in round six on March 19th.
“It was neither the result nor the performance we trained for,” lamented Kildare manager Glenn Ryan. “We are trying to execute our basic skills which we are not doing.”
Durnin’s ninth minute goal, when he latched on to a hand-pass over the top of Kildare’s defence from Sam Mulroy, set Louth on their way.
Mulroy’s exit in the run up to half-time with a hamstring twinge was concerning though Grimes raised morale again with a stoppage time goal when he burst through Kildare’s defence and fired low past Mark Donnellan.
Trailing 0-7 to 2-6 at half-time, Kildare reduced the deficit to three points on a couple of occasions but late Louth points from subs Craig Lennon and Bevan Duffy proved the insurance scores.
LOUTH: J Califf; P Lynch, D McKenny, N Sharkey (0-1); L Grey, C Murphy, C McKeever; C Early, T Durnin (1-2); C Grimes (1-0), S Mulroy (0-2 frees), L Jackson; D McConnon (0-2, one mark, one free), C Downey (0-1), R Burns (0-1).
Subs: B Duffy (0-1) for Grimes (blood sub 6-14 mins), C Lennon (0-1) for Mulroy (28 mins), C McCaul for Burns (57 mins), Duffy for Jackson (61 mins), J Hughes for McConnon (68 mins).
KILDARE: M Donnellan; J Sargent (0-1), K Flynn, M O’Grady; P McDermott, D Hyland, S Ryan; K Feely, K O’Callaghan; E Doyle, B McCormack (0-1), P Woodgate (0-3, two frees); N Flynn (0-3, two frees), D Flynn (0-1), D Kirwan (0-2).
Subs: M Joyce for McDermott and A Masterson for Feely (both h-t), C McMonagle for McCormack (48 mins), J Robinson for Kirwan (55 mins), B Coffey (0-1) for N Flynn (63 mins).
Referee: B Tiernan (Dublin)