WHEN Kildare fell to a heart breaking defeat to Dublin in the Leinster semi final almost a month ago many wondered would Kieran McGeeney’s team have the guts and determination to come through the qualifiers again.
The draw was hardly helpful with two local derbies and a game against the beaten Ulster finalists but once again Kildare proved that they are the team to avoid in the back door system and McGeeney was happy with how the team dealt with the Dublin defeat.
“Defeats are something you have to live with in Gaelic football or any sport. You take even Daragh O’Sé and the Kerry lads, how many All-Irelands has he? Six? And he played for 14 years so it’s something that everybody goes through and it’s going to be more and more relevant in Gaelic football as they tweak the championship, you have to be able to deal with defeat and come back.
“There are different arguments for everything. The Leinster champions don’t get a chance to look at their weaknesses but even if you get beaten by one point or 15 points, you have to go back and look and see what sort of changes you can make. As a manager you try and treat victories as defeats and make sure you are critical of your analysis of the game but it is difficult. We’re happy to be here but let’s be honest, we want to go further. We’ve a big step to jump up now though,” he said.
The physical approach to the game by Derry was hardly a surprise and neither was their signalling Johnny Doyle out in particular for some rough house attention. Doyle was up against two big men in Joe Diver and Michael Friel and that prompted the switch between the Allenwood man and Rob Kelly midway through the first half.
“Rob is a big fella. Johnny was coming in for a lot of attention again, for the third game on the trot, and the linesman didn’t seem to see it the same as we did. Rob is a bigger lad, he is more physical, more robust and he is able to put up with those type of challenges out there. In fairness to him, he made a big difference going out there. Derry have some big men, Diver and Friel, and they are good aggressive footballers. You don’t see them looking for handy frees, they go in hard and that maybe suited Rob more than Johnny,” said McGeeney.
Kildare wracked up 19 scores on their way to victory, a tally they have only reached once before this season, with James Kavanagh back approaching his best as he returned to the starting line up but McGeeney was pleased with how his forward line up played as a unit.
“We got some good scores, some nice build up play as well. James really pushed on and took his points and Tom as well. We’re very happy with the fellas up front. Probably there was a five or ten minute period at the beginning of the first half when we could have scored four or five more points and you’d like to have those at that particular time but we’ll try and work on that for next week,” he said.
It was a record breaking day for Johnny Doyle as he scored for the 50th successive championship game and McGeeney said he is a “special player”.
“There are special players out there but my thing is can you play them anywhere? I think with Johnny you can and you could say the same about Eamonn Callaghan. There are very few corner forwards that you could play corner back or in midfield but Johnny is one of them. It’s taken a while for people to recognise it but if they all had the characteristics of Johnny no team would be hard to train, he works hard, he does everything he is asked and he doesn’t seem to have any ego, he is a pleasure to be able to train. He comes in for some extra special treatment (from opposing teams) but he is a good lad,” said McGeeney who also had some good news on the injury front when he revealed that Peter Kelly is back running and hinted that it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he might see some action before the year is out.
“Peter is back running. It’s hard to say now, this time is crucial for him whether we are still involved and how hard he can be pushed along but he’s back running anyway,” he said.