Kildare edged past Wexford in the GAA Leinster Football Championship after a 0-9 to 0-8 result at Croke Park.
In a crazy closing sequence of events, Wexford had the opportunity to tie the game with a free in injury time. Rather than give the free to Donal Shanley who had been on frees all day, Ciaran Lyng took it and kicked it wide.
Having led by four points at the break, Wexford replied with four-in-a-row to level the game before the Lillywhites edged clear in the closing 15 minutes. And winning by a point going into injury-time Kildare inexplicably played possession football and lost the ball to set up the injury-time free which was sent wide.
Kildare were the better team in the opening half but their insistence on leaving eight players back in defence saw them unable to make the best of their chances.
After Wexford’s John Tubritt kicked them in front in the opening minute, Kildare took control, firing over four consecutive points to lead 0-4 to 0-1 after 18 minutes.
Kildare’s kevin Feely was yellow carded in between while Wexford kicked the first of five first-half wides. But it was pure madness from Kildare who almost refused to put in a tackle before Wexford got past the 65-metre line.
Donal Shanley who was key for Wexford in the league responded with a free 20 minutes in, but Alan Smith and Neil Flynn tagged on points to see the Lillywhites lead by four.
But it was an awful game with neither side taking the game by the scruff of the neck. And despite leading by four, Kildare failed to kick on. As the rain started to pour down, Colm Kehoe and Alan Smith ended the scoring of the half at 0-7 to 0-3.
Wexford brought in Shane Roche for Tubritt at half-time and Wexford were level within 15 minutes. Two Shanley frees started the scoring, Roche from play and Kevin O’Grady leveled the game at 0-7 apiece.
Kildare edged clear through points from substitutes Eamonn Callaghan and Cian O’Donoghue. Shanley pointed for Wexford to narrow the gap to one which set up the grand finale. Why Wexford went for Lyng rather than Shanley, only they can say, but it cost them the game.
Kildare go on to a semi-final where the will meet Westmeath or Offaly while the qualiifers await Wexford.
1 Mark Donnellan – 2 Peter Kelly, 3 David Hyland, 4 Ollie Lyons – 5 Eoin Doyle, 6 Fergal Conway, 7 Emmet Bolton – 8 Kevin Feely, 9 Tommy Moolick – 10 Adam Tyrrell, 11 Eoghan O’Flaherty, 12 Paul Cribbin – 13 Eamonn Callaghan, 14 Alan Smith, 15 Neil Flynn.
1 Anthony Masterson – 2 Joey Wadding, 3 Jim Rossiter, 4 Michael Furlong – 5 Simon Donohoe, 6 Brian Malone (c), 7 Eoghan Nolan – 8 Colm Kehoe, 9 Daithi Waters – 10 Kevin O’Grady, 11 PJ Banville, 12 Ben Brosnan – 13 Donal Shanley, 14 Ciaran Lyng, 15 John Tubritt.