Lilies travel in force and shine bringtly in the Cavan sunshine

AND the sky didn’t fall in!

AND the sky didn’t fall in!

No one died.

The riot squad weren’t needed.

The GAA is as strong today as it was last week, last month, last year, writes Tommy Callaghan.

So now maybe we can all concentrate on football, on the qualifiers, on the All Ireland Series and what ever that brings with it.

Seanie Johnston made a ten minute cameo appearance (getting good at these) scoring the final point of the game and one has to wonder what in God’s name has all the fuss been about.

Just short of 15,000 turned up at sun drenched Breffni Park to witness something a lot more important than whether Johnston would or would not make an appearance, and that was defeating Cavan and booking a place in the next round of the All Ireland qualifiers.

And that, thankfully, they did and did in style albeit against as poor a side we have seen for many a long day.

After some 19 minutes when Emmet Bolton found the Cavan net there were just two remaining questions to be answered.

The first being just how much would Kildare win by.

The second would the former Cavan man get a run.

On the first, and most important point, we got our answer after some 74 minutes of action with the visitors clocking a massive 3-20 to Cavan’s 1-9 with a display that simply emphasised the huge gulf in class, the huge gulf in fitness and the huge gulf in strength and conditioning levels between the two sides.

The second saw Mr Johnston coming off the bench with some eight minutes of play remaining and while he did, as expected got lots of whistles and plenty of boos, it was nothing that was not expected and to be fair to Cavan folk there were no real surprises in all of that.

At least it gave the home crowd something to shout about. Up to that they had absolutely nothing to get excited about, except for a brief spell in the opening six or eight minutes.

Kildare started this game incredibly edgy; very tentative; extremely nervous. They were foostering and fumbling, dropping balls, misdirecting passes and generally looked out of sorts.

Cavan opened strongly and had the visitors penned back into their own half for ten minutes or so, scoring the opening two points of the game.

But as sure as a dog slips on newly polished lino Kildare gradually got into their stride. Using a combination of quick and accurate passing they began to tear the Cavan defence to shreds, a defence that had little or no answer to the pace and power as the Lilies cranked into top gear.

No doubt this win brings huge relief to Kieran McGeeney, his back room team and all Kildare supporters.

There were many positives, and a few negatives it must be said.

On the plus side, putting on a display such as they did without the services of Daryl Flynn, Eamonn Callaghan, amongst others, was very encouraging, as was the individual performances of players such as Alan Smith, Tomás O’Connor, Eoghan O’Flaherty and the hard working Johnny Doyle, not forgetting the fine display of young Naas man Eoin Doyle.

One gets the feeling that he has a real future at this level. Big and strong, he reads the game well and when he gets a few more games under his belt, coupled with the experience, he certainly has the potential to make it on the evidence we have seen to date.

On the minus side, it has to be said that against stronger opposition there is still huge improvement required, particularly in midfield, while the defence at times, can look somewhat vulnerable.

We have seen it against Meath and against other opposition throughout the season, when Kildare are not on top in the middle the defence comes under pressure.

If the midfield area can be strengthened, and yes of course injuries are a problem, the rest can fall into place.

Playing Mick Foley at midfield certainly looked the best option on Sunday all things considered and while he did not reach the heights of the league final, nevertheless, unless injuries improve, he will probably start there again.

On the flip side of that there is an argument that playing the Athy man there is robbing Peter to pay Paul as his absence on the edge of the square can be a big negative.

Is it time to give Dermot Earley a start in the middle?

Yes, he may not have the legs he once had, but he is in mighty condition, St Conleth’s probably would have suited him better, and experience can be a huge plus for Kildare.

The front men played very well indeed. Smithy was immense, and if he can keep that up, who knows. Tomás O’Connor again showed what a fine player he has become, practically winning everything that came his way.

Mikey Conway, despite scoring 1-4 drifted in and out but if he can keep up that scoring rate, there will be few complaints, and while James Kavanagh did not raise a flag he was involved in some of the best movements of the day while his pass to Conway for the goal was simply exquisite.

Johnny Doyle worked his socks off, especially when Kildare were struggling while Eoghan O’Flaherty showed signs of returning to his best form.

Of course when evaluating the strengths of Kildare one must take into consideration the opposition but again if Dublin, Kerry or Tyrone scored 3-20 against poor opposition we would be told these top teams are moving up a notch and in a different class, but when it’s Kildare ........

Next up Limerick.

Croke Park have decided the venue is O’Moore Park at 7pm on Saturday. They fear Newbridge won’t be able to handle the crowd. This is in light of a dismal Limerick crowd making their way to Longford last weekend. Kildare supporters not happy.

On we go, another weekend to look forward to and who knows what lies ahead. Here’s hoping.

PS: A road side sign caught the eye as we entered Cavan saying: “All our Lilies are home grown”. So good, I say to myself you (Cavan) have now started to export them. Something we in Kildare did years ago. And hardly a word about it.