Impressive start to NFL season for Down

Kildare 0-7

Down 1-16

DOWN’S NFL campaign got off to an impressive start as they defeated Kildare in Newbridge on a scoreline of 1-16 to 0-7.

For most of the first half the game was nip and tuck and it looked like there would be nothing to separate the teams going into the interval.

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An exquisite Martin Clarke pass, however, on 26 minutes, which was gathered by Paul McComiskey and netted by the Dundrum man meant that Down had the wind in their sails going in at the break.

McComiskey looked menacing throughout the first half and managed to amass three points on top of his goal in the 35 minutes before the break.

Also on target was John Clarke, who registered two points from play, and Ambrose Rodgers who powered through the middle to add to Down’s half time tally of 1-07 to Kildare’s 0-6 points.

If the first half showed that the two teams were evenly matched, the second half certainly didn’t. Down were really good. Defenders were ferocious in the tackle and moved the ball forward quickly into a full forward line which was commanded by the men in red and black.

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It only took Down 26 seconds to register a score in the second half which was a well taken point from the industrious Danny Hughes. Both he and Conor Maginn worked tirelessly up and down the wings throughout the game.

After Danny’s early point the game became very physical and it was easy to see that Kildare weren’t prepared to lie down and let the Mourne men dominate.

It took Down another seven minutes to score when Conor Garvey scored an exquisite point from half back on 42 minutes. This point was then quickly followed by a converted free by Kildare; this score was to be one half of their entire tally for the second 35 minutes.

Four points by Down in seven minutes effectively ended the game for the Lilywhites. Conor Garvey’s long range point, followed by a free by Martin Clarke and another two points by newly instated captain Ambrose Rodgers meant that Down were in control on the 50 minute mark and led by 1-10 to 0-7.

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James McCartan had time to introduce five subs to the team including Stephen Kearney, Conor Laverty, Conor Poland, Peter Fitzpatrick and Paul Greenan but this didn’t seem to weaken the side. Laverty in particular was a constant threat during his 20 minutes on the field and was unlucky not to register more than one point.

One effort clipped the post and on another occasion Conor could’ve been played in by Paul McComiskey for a great goal chance.

The team looked very strong and the defence in particular will be happy with their performance. Kildare forwards were allowed little time on the ball in the second half. James Colgan looked assured at centre back and Damien Rafferty never let up in the tackle.

Arguably Down’s best performer was John Clarke who led the full forward line superbly and presented himself as a very reliable outlet throughout, and kicking two points.

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Down look forward to next week’s Prc Esler encounter with Meath. The Royals defeated Armagh in their opening game and will be an entirely different prospect to a Kildare team which in truth looked a pale shade of their best.

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