Longford 2-14 – 0-14 Kildare
(O’Byrne Cup senior football Round 1 report from St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge )
Perhaps history will repeat itself and a Jack O’Connor-led team will bounce back from a loss to Longford with a strong season but, for now, it’s frustration for the new Kildare manager.
It’s 15 years since O’Connor managed the Kerry seniors for the first time, a National League Division 1 game in Longford that ended in a surprise 3-7 to 1-12 defeat to the hosts.
Padraic Davis scored five points for Longford that day in 2004 and is currently in charge of his native county who had goalscorers this time in Joseph Hagan, who hit 1-3 overall, and Daniel Mimnagh.
It all worked out pretty well for O’Connor in Kerry, of course, with an All-Ireland win at the end of that 2004 campaign and two more Championship wins in 2006 and 2009.
It remains to be seen if Kildare can operate at those lofty heights in 2020 and O’Connor ran in his entire bench in an effort to assess all the players at his disposal.
“It was nine or 10 subs we used I think,” said O’Connor. “Look, the name of the game at this time of the year is experimentation with young lads and some fellas did well and other fellas maybe under performed a bit.
“The bottom line is it’s pre-season, you’re just trying to get your feel for it and try things out. It’s a learning curve and we have another game next weekend so we’ll go from there.”
Longford duo Rian Brady and Peter Lynn scored points from advanced marks under the new playing rule that rewards high fielding in attack.
But those were the only two advanced marks of the entire game and there were no sin-binnings, another new rule.
“Sure we are all only getting used to them,” said O’Connor of the rules. “It’ll take us a while. That was the first game really where we got a look at them. They didn’t have a major impact on the game.”
O’Connor had hoped to start Daniel Flynn after a year out but the full-forward, a former back to back All-Star nominee, missed out with a hamstring twinge.
Jack Robinson, who scored seven points for the Kildare juniors in this year’s Leinster final, did start and hit 0-2 on his competitive debut.
But it wasn’t a day when any Kildare player really shone as Longford built on Hagan’s 22nd minute goal to take a 1-8 to 0-8 lead at half-time.
Kildare got the margin down to just one approaching the hour mark following scores from Paddy Brophy, Darragh Kirwan and Robinson but couldn’t get any closer.
Longford finished strong with 1-3 to Kildare’s 0-1 from the 59th minute, a haul that included a cracking Mimnagh goal when he soloed in from the right wing and curled a left footed shot into the far corner.
Longford scorers: J Hagan (1-3); D Gallagher (0-5, 4 frees); D Mimnagh (1-1); R Brady (0-2, 1 mark, 1 free); K Diffley, D Reynolds, P Lynn (1 mark) (0-1 each).
Kildare scorers: N Flynn (0-5, 5 frees); P Brophy (1 free), P Nash and J Robinson (1 free) (0-2 each); L Power, T Moolick and D Kirwan (0-1 each).
Longford:P Collum; P Fox, A Farrell, B O’Farrell; I O’Sullivan, M Quinn, G Flynn; D Gallagher, K Diffley; P Lynn, D Mimnagh, D Reynolds; R Brady, J Hagan, O Kenny.
Subs: PJ Masterson for O’Sullivan (30); D Doherty for Quinn (35+1); A McGuire for Doherty (46); L Hughes for Lynn (63).
Kildare: M Donnellan; L Healy, E Bateman, S Ryan; J Byrne, D Hyland, K Flynn; P Connell, L Power; T Archbold, N Kelly, J Tracey; J Robinson, N Flynn, P Nash.
Subs: T Moolick for Power (35+1); D O’Neill for Ryan, C Kavanagh for Byrne and C Byrne for Archbold (all h/t); P Brophy for Nash (44); D Kirwan for Flynn (46); S Doran for Tracey (55); D Ryan for Robinson (64); C O’Donoghue for Bateman (72).
Ref: C Dwyer (Offaly).