TICK tock; tick tock; tick tock. The hopes and dreams of a Leinster title lie in ruins and now time is ticking away on our All Ireland ambitions, writes Tommy Callaghan.
We’ve been down this road before. In fact this is our fifth consecutive season in a row to head down the qualifier route. Not the preferred route mind you, but that’s the hand that has been dealt and that’s the hand we must play. We should remember, of course, we are unbeaten in the past four years in the qualifiers, that must say something, possibly more so when you find yourself clutching at straws, seeking out some positives, some crumbs of comfort even.
The defeat by Meath still hurts.
The questions are still being asked.
Few answers are forthcoming.
Explanations are thin on the ground.
Was it just one of those days? Again!
Was it just a case of having an off day?
The entire team, management included.
Many remain of the opinion that Kildare (and Dublin) both had eyes on the Leinster final. The difference being Dublin got away with a very poor display while Kildare paid the price.
But do you know what is one of the real worrying aspects of that Kildare display.
The Lilies looked tired, at times even jaded.
No sparkle. No bite. No urgency.
And a one dimensional game plan hardly helped the cause either.
Did they over train?
Did they fail to show their opponents enough respect?
Did they over do preparations the day before?
Hard to say. Hard to fathom. Hard to digest.
But what’s done is done, we must move on. For now. We’ll park all those questions and queries for another day.
And so we are off to Breffni on Sunday.
What a draw. Amazing or what.
The qualifiers seem to be getting a habit of throwing up ‘juicy’ pairings.
And no, I don’t for a minute believe these draws are ‘manufactured.’ Absolutely not.
But back to Breffni and under normal circumstances drawing Cavan in Breffni would be difficult but it is now made that bit more treacherous now due to the SJ affair.
But let’s stop beating around the bush here.
And while Cavan may be regarded as one of the weaker counties up north, nevertheless, they have been doing well at U21 level and have shown they are team to be respected having overturned a six point deficit against Fermanagh to win by five, having done something similar against Wicklow last term.
The boys in blue and white are strong in midfield and do possess a couple of good forwards so if Kildare are to progress, nothing but a full on display will be required.
But that will only happen if the heads are right, if the belief is restored, if preparation is right.
This Kildare side has not become a poor side over night. Remember this is a team that has been promoted, rightly or wrongly, as one of the top four or five in the entire country.
Now is the time to go out and prove it.
However they won’t win it swanning around waiting for something to happen.
They will win it by recapturing their aggressive running game that we have witnessed throughout (most) of the league campaign.
No doubt players are still hurting.
And in all fairness, that is the way it should be.
Team selection, as usual, will be vital.
But there can only be one focus for Sunday and one focus only and that is simply to defeat Cavan, all other distractions must be banished for this one.
The clock is ticking. Let’s hope it continues to tick for the Lilies when we depart Breffni on Sunday.