Kildare hurlers survive relegation drop

Niall O Muineachain, Kildare, in action against Eana Glynn, right, and Mikey Lee, Wicklow. Picture: SPORTSFILE

Kildare 2-12 Wicklow 0-12

Kildare survived the drop to division 2B, but their victory in the relegation final at O'Connor Park Tullamore condemned Wicklow to fourth tier hurling in 2014.

Wicklow looked in good form midway through the second-half with the scores level, but a straight red card shown to corner-forward Christy Moorehouse turned the game on its head as Kildare pulled clear to win.

Derry referee Eamonn Hasson sent off Moorehouse on the advise of his linesman, but it came immediately after Hasson awarded a contentious point from Mikey Lee, which had levelled the game.

Playing with the aid of a fluctuating breeze in the first-half Wicklow looked the stronger outfit, and with skipper Jonathan O'Neill proving particularly dangerous, it was a surprise that they failed to open out a lead at the break.

But that was largely due to Kildare's two goals in the opening 35 minutes, which arrived through Tony Murphy and Gerry Keegan.

Both O'Neill and the impressive Michael Lee hit points for Casey O'Brien's side in the opening stages, but Keegan also got Kildare off the mark with a smart point from play in the fifth minute.

Indeed Kildare could well have been ahead by the tenth minute as they registered three early wides, but they soon took over when Murphy made the most of some hesitation at the back from Joe Murphy and Stephen Kelly to goal and gave his side a 1-1 to 0-2 lead.

Kieran Divilly slotted a free for the Lilywhites, but then Wicklow took over around the middle of the park and the points began to flow.

Five points in a row from Wicklow, including three from O'Neill and one each from Lee and Andy O'Brien saw the Garden County open out a 0-7 to 1-2 lead by the half-hour mark.

But four minutes from the break Keegan struck a wonderful goal to the roof of the net after he showed admirable pace to outstrip the Wicklow defence as the sides went in level at the break 2-2 to 0-8.

Both sides hit two points in the early exchanges after the restart, but once Moorehouse was sent to the line, Kildare dominated.

They hit the next five points – all from play – to take control as Keegan (2), Divilly, Bernard Deay and Murphy all found the target.

O'Neill responded for Wicklow with two quick scores to reduce the deficit to just three points, but with a man advantage Kildare pulled clear again in the final minutes to secure their position in division2A for the second season.

Scorers

Kildare: G Keegan 1-3, K Divilly 0-4 (3f), T Murphy 1-1, D Harney, B Deay, R Kelly & M Delaney 0-1 each.

Wicklow: J O'Neill 0-7 (4f), M Lee 0-4, A O'Brien 0-1.

Wicklow: J Murphy; P Keane, S Kelly, B Cuddihy; G Byrne, L Kennedy, E Dunne; E Kearns, R Keddy; C Moorehouse, J O’Neill, W O’Gorman; A O’Brien, E Glynn, M Lee.

Subs: R Byrne for Keane, B Osbourne for O'Gorman, Shane Byrne for Glynn, Aaron Nugent for Dunne.

Kildare: P Dermody; J Doran, F Ó’Muineacháin, P Curtin; N Ó’Muineacháin, R Hoban, P Reidy; M Moloney, K Divilly; P Divilly, M Purcell, D Butler; D Harney, T Murphy, G Keegan.

Subs: M Delaney for Butler, R Kelly for Purcell, B Deay for Kieran Divilly.

Referee: Eamon Hasson (Derry).

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