A Special Report
SLIGO FOOTBALL imploded last night
(Saturday) in one of its worst ever performances in the All Ireland GAA
senior football Qualifier knockout series in front of an official
attendance of 12,851 in Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon.
there were seventy minutes and forty eight seconds on the clock when
Sligo registered its solitary score from play, per veteran Eamon O'Hara.
However, many Sligo fans didnt see the score -- maybe O'Hara's last
ever in senior Championship football -- as they had begin to drift from
the ground with barely an hour on the clock.
On this occasion it
was hard to blame the fans - it was all over as contest much earlier
than that. Sligo got it tactically wrong -- woefully so -- but there was
also indiscipline and lack of cohesion in this Sligo showing.
was an intensity about Kildare, as they 'laid into' Sligo from the
start; even their forwards tackled Sligo coming out of defence.
result was Kildare forced turnovers of possession -- something not too
often seen from Sligo in Championship runs in recent years. They rattled
Sligo from the start and also won the throws-in in each half.
Kildare's blonde haired full forward Tomas O'Connor had the edge all
the night, when facing Johnny Martyn especially, but O'Connor's lively
mobility caused lots of problems for Sligo, all night.
The frustration boiled over in the 66th minute when Sligo's flame haired
stalwart Charlie Harrison clearly struck a low blow on Johnny Doyle
when Sligo had won a free.
Sligo still got their free, and when
whistler David Coldrick gave a long lecture to Harrison -- after he had
discussed the issue with his linesman -- it seemed a yellow card might
be the Carraroe clubman's punishment.
But the Meath referee brandished a straight red to Harrison for what
as a stupid foul on the tenacious Doyle, who gave a man of the match
Doyle also set a new record
last night with a 62nd consecutive Championship outfield outing for his
county, overtaking Philip Jordan of Tyrone.
Almost immediately after
the sending off, Doyle earned a sustained ovation from his followers
when he was substituted by Seanie Johnston, one of the summer's big GAA
talking points as he ''beds in'' after switching from Cavan to Kildare.
It was that sort of night for Sligo, when the lesser aspects of football were the team's main talking points afterwards.
lionhearted Eamonn O'Hara had been introduced as a sub in the 53rd
minute but not even he could be King Canute and turn back the Kildare
story of this game, for a place in the last last eight of the All
Ireland, is best revealed in examining the first 12 minutes of each
The Lilywhites ratcheted up six points inside the game's opening 12 minutes to lead 0-6 to 0-0.
It took exactly 12 minutes for the first score of the second half....but that fell to Kildare's Alan Smith.
The more ominous message in
that opening phase of the second half was that Kildare had also shot
three wides while the expected Sligo surge, with the wind at its back,
was simply stillborn.
In fact, despite being aided by a stiffening breeze Sligo registered only a single score in the second half.
score only came in added time, when Eamonn O'Hara pointed from
play. Sligo's three other scores were all first half frees ...and there
was doubt as to whether or not even one of those was a score.
Amazingly, the prospects for a place in the last eight had looked reasonably good for Sligo at half time last night.
Sligo had they held Kildare, who had played with a strong wind into the
goals at the graveyard end of the Roscommon town venue, to a manageable
five point lead at the break, 0-8 to 0-3.
Secondly, and most encouraging of all Sligo had dominated the game
between the 12th and 35th minute and even 'won' that segment by three
points to two.
Sligo Won Contest
The on-air assessment in Kildare at the interval was by 1982 All Ireland
winning manager Eugene McGee. He said Sligo had won the contest at
centre field in the second part of that first half. He noted the role of
Tony Taylor. He felt would never get the scores needed to win the game.
So it was.
Sligo manager Kevin Walsh -- who won an All Ireland title at centre
field with Galway -- also seemed to struck it lucky with his decision
last night to pull David Maye back into a role sweeping between the half
back line and centre field. Maye did well and has added significantly
to his reputation against both Mayo and Kildare.
was Maye, too, who opened the scoring for Sligo on 15 minutes with an
excellent 45 yards free which he judged perfectly to curl in against the
In that same opening 15 minutes, Kildare had struck four wides in addition to their tally of six points.
Maye was unlucky not to add another in the 16th minute after Kildare
fouls on both Adrian Marren and Paul McGovern. Striking from 40 yards
the ball seemed to come off Maye's boot and tailed left.
Stephen Coen had a chance in the 20th minute but his snap shot drifted wide.
A further nine minutes elapsed before an Adrian Marren free reduced the margin, 0-8 to 0-2.
saw the urgency of tacking on a few precious points against the wind
but in the 31st minute Eugene Mullen burst from centre field but shot
hopelessly wide while David Maye's shot dropped wide in the 32nd minute.
Sligo did add a third just before the break, a score which was shrouded in controversy.
Breheny won a free after he had been doubly fouled by Emmet Bolton.
Some spectators were of the view that Adrian Marren's shot had drifted
But the near side umpire signalled a score. A brief consultation
with the referee followed and the Sligo score stood, to leave it 0-8 to
0-3 at the break.
Strength of Wind
Kildare had led from the second minute when Alan Smith turned away from Ross Donovan to open the scoring.
Kelly had acres of space to add another in three minutes and then Smith
released O'Connor who pointed from 20 yards in the 4th minute.
Mikey Conway made it four for Kildare in six minutes and all the
while Sligo were still struggling to get inside the Kildare '45.'
O'Flaherty added a fifth for Kildare after Ross Donovan was judged to
have touched the ball on the ground and the same player added a fine 50
yards free lofted high in the breeze.
There were barely 10 minutes gone in the game. It was one way traffic at that point.
struck a 40 yards free over the centre of the bar in 19 minutes to
leave the scores 0-7 to 0-1 and then hit the crossbar from fully 65
yards, giving some indication of the strength of the wind.
James Kavanagh struck his first point of the day and Kildare's eighth in the 28th minute.
Sligo started the second half with Pat Hughes coming in for David Kelly who continues to be plagued by an ankle injury.
In the 38th minute Sligo keeper Philip Greene stopped a goal attempt by Emmet Bolton.
the 41st minute Johnny Doyle won a free off Paul McGovern as Kildare
pursued a carrying/running game against the wind. Sligo hearts were
lifted when Mikey Conway put it wide from just 25 yards out.
However, maybe the defining image of a 'bad night at the office' for
Sligo came in the 43rd minute when Alan Costello, playing one of his
quieter games and eventually substituted, looked up but had no Sligo
player within 30 yards of the Kildare goal.....and Sligo playing with
The omens were looking even more decidedly ill-disposed towards Sligo when David Maye slipped as he kicked in the 46th minute.
One minute later Alan Smith added another Kildare point.
in an incident similar to that which gave Laois its winning penalty
against Meath yesterday afternoon, Tomas O'Connor put Sligo keeper
Philip Greene under pressure when he chased down an attempted backpass, a
puzzling regular feature of Sligo's pattern in League games.
Eoin Doyle took Kildare's 10th point in the 51st minute after he
initiated an interplay which also involved forwards Conway, O'Connor,
Smith, O'Flaherty. Kildare was on fire.
A sign of Sligo's
raggedness was there in the 53rd minute as Shane McManus shot wide when
Stephen Coen and Adrian Marren were each better placed to score.
Sligo almost immediately introduced Eamonn O'Hara but this task was too much of an 'ask' even from the Tourlestrane Titan.
minute later Tomas O'Connor rose to fetch and feed Emmet Bolton who put
Kildare 0-11 to 0-3 ahead with 16 minutes left. Mikey Conway added
Kildare's 12th in the 57th minute.
The high-energy Kildare game may yet lead them to further glory this
season but the evidence also suggested they toyed with Sligo, and maybe
even stepped down a gear in the latter part last night as they now face
playing a stamina-sapping third consecutive weekend in the Championship
knew there was no, no way back in last night's game when Dermot Earley
was introduced by Kildare in the 62nd minute. Almost immediately Alan
Smith added the Lilywhite's 13th and final point.
Sligo lost by nine points but the defeat was more comprehensive than
that; with 23 minutes still on the clock one disappointed football fan
commented last night: ''Sligo is not offering a lot.'' It was true. It
was all so different from Sligo's historic one point win over Kildare at
Croke Park in the same qualifer series in 2001.
Footnote: Kildare were drawn
later last night on radio to meet the bookies favourites Cork in the All
Ireland Quarter Finals next weekend. The winners will then meet the
winners of tie-of-the-round on Bank Holiday weeend, ie Donegal versus
Kerry, for a place in the All Ireland Final.
Kildare scorers: E O’Flaherty 0-04 (0-4f), M Conway (2f), A Smith 0-02 each, T O’Connor, J Kavanagh, R Kelly, E Bolton, E Doyle 0-01 each.
Sligo scorers: Adrian Marren 0-02 (2f); D Maye 0-1 (f); Eamonn O’Hara 0-01 each.
Connolly, O Lyons, P Kelly, H McGrillen, E Bolton, M O’Flaherty, E
Doyle, M Foley, R Kelly, E O’Flaherty, M Conway, A Smith, J Doyle, T
O’Connor, J Kavanagh. Subs; P
O’Neill for Kelly (55 mins), D Earley for Foley (62), E Callaghan for E
O’Flaherty, S Johnston for J Doyle, G White for Bolton (69).
Greene, Neil Ewing, Johnny Martyn, Ross Donovan, Charlie Harrison, Mark
Quinn, Paul McGovern, Eugene Mullen, Tony Taylor, Mark Breheny, David
Maye, Stephen Coen, Alan Costello, Adrian Marren, David Kelly.
Subs used: Pat
Hughes for Kelly (h/t), Shane McManus for Mullen (44 mins), Eamonn
O’Hara for Coen (53), Keelan Cawley for Costello (57), Brendan Egan for
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).