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County Draw With League Leaders

Now we know how Limerick, Athlone and Dundalk felt when they came to Station Road and went away with something they didn't deserve. For long periods this was Kildare's worst performance of the season as Waterford outplayed Kildare for the first hour of the game.

Kildare manager Dermot Keely showed his displeasure with the way Kildare threw away their last game against Dundalk by making five changes to the starting line up even if two of them were forced upon him. Out went Danny O'Leary, Damian Maher, Alan Kelly, the suspended Keith O'Connor and the injured John Ryan. In came Gareth Byrne, Tommy Dunne, Peter Rogers, Philip Gorman and Shay Zeller.

Maybe it was because of all these changes that Kildare started very shakily with the defence in particular looking nervous. Byrne did his best to help the nerves by looking very confident collecting crosses and with some excellent distribution and apart from one Barthez-esque attempt at trying to pass the ball out of defence he was excellent for the whole game.

The first half hour was very scrappy with Waterford having most of the possession and territory without looking dangerous. Indeed, it wasn't until the 32nd minute that there was a shot on target when Kevin Waters hit a long range shot straight at Byrne.

Kildare took the lead out of nothing in the 36th minute. James O'Callaghan cleared a long ball up field to the feet of Zeller who quickly took the ball under control and laid it wide to Cathal O'Connor, O'Connor proceeded to hit the most amazing defence splitting pass to the on running Gorman. Gorman showed tremendous coolness to cut back inside David Breen before tucking the ball under the out coming Wayne Russell.

County had manager Dermot Keely pulling his hair out again as they gave away a very soft goal just three minutes later. Waters swung in a great corner but Seth Lilburn was allowed a free run and he planted a header past Byrne.

County could have went 2-1 down just before half time when a long ball from Willie Byrne fell over Tommy Dunne's head and Vinny Sullivan struck a superb volley off the inside of the post.

No doubt Dermot's half time talk was about keeping the defence tight for the first ten minutes and try to kill off Waterford but within 30 seconds Waterford had a penalty. Byrne hit a long ball over Dunne's head and just when Dixon looked like he might get a shot in Dunne pulled him back. Waters firmly struck the ball into top corner.

The game was changed in the 55th minute when Keely brought Mikey McCann on for Tommy Dunne. This move saw Zeller restored to his normal position on the right, O'Connor to his normal position in the middle and Ben Whelehan move back into the centre of defence.

Kildare immediately looked like they could match Waterford but it still came as a surprise when they equalised in the 79th minute. Gorman took a short throw to Damian Brennan, who cut into the box before pulling the ball back to Shay Zeller who hit a great shot with the outside of his right foot.

Kildare suddenly found belief in themselves and almost snatched the win when with just five minutes to go Cathal O'Connor went on a great run before picking out McCann whose low shot was excellently saved by Russell.

Gareth Byrne had to produce a brilliant save with almost the last touch of the game to guarantee the point.

Overall Kildare were probably lucky to get a point but following some of the misfortunes they have suffered in recent weeks who can begrudge them a bit of luck?

Kildare County: Byrne, Brennan, O'Callaghan, Dunne (McCann 55), Dykes, Whelehan, C O'Connor, Rogers, Gorman, Zeller, Scully (Kelly 66) Subs not used: Maher, O'Leary, Darker.

Waterford: Russell, Leahy, Rea, Breen (Lilburn 36), Byrne, Cosgrove, O'Brien, di Lalia (Murphy 76), Waters (Kennedy 82), Dixon, Sullivan. Subs not used: Watson, Fennelly.


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