FOR the first time ever Kildare lifted the Kehoe Cup last Sunday after defeating Meath in Trim. They remain unbeaten for 2013 and despite Meath having a huge number of chances to win last weekend Kildare boss Willie Sunderland was most pleased with how his charges performed, writes Ruth Chambers.
“I think the determination, the will and the heart shown by our guys out there today is what is really pleasing. I can only worry about what Kildare do and we got the result and in the end that’s the most important thing,” said Sunderland at full time.
Two goals in the second half were the all important scores as the Lilies prevailed by four points. Captain Paul Divilly and Tony Murphy grabbed the goals, while goalkeeper Paddy McKenna also pulled off two fine saves at the other end to shut out the Meath threat.
“The goals gave us a bit of breathing space. Early in the second half we looked like we weren’t going to get that bit of space. In fairness, Paddy (McKenna) in goals made a couple of brilliant saves, which is a huge plus but there’s still a long road ahead for Paddy and we’ll have to see how it goes.
“Those two saves and then getting the two goals almost immediately after that made the difference and that’s what swung the game in the end,” admitted the Wexford native.
After a tumultuous start to the season Kildare seem to be back on track. Winning the Kehoe Cup might not be the be all and end all for these players but winning breeds confidence. And it’s confidence they’ll need as they face in to a tough Allianz Hurling League Division 2A campaign.
“I know these fellas for the last two years and I have great faith in them. Sometimes the worry is that they don’t believe in themselves a lot of the time. I’d like them to open up and play a more expansive game and I think we can see snippets of that out there. I can’t fault any of those fellas out there today and that’s the way it is any time they put on the jersey. You could never fault them for their commitment and effort,” said Sunderland.
He added: “The league is going to be a huge step up and it always was going to be. Winning today is a nice way to go in to the league. Winning is what playing is all about. The other pleasing aspect of it is, since the very first match we played against DIT in Hawkfield, you can see gradual improvement there all the time. We now have another two weeks to work and it’s great to see the likes of Ross (Kelly) come on there today. He hasn’t been with us all year and he made a good contribution. Bernard (Daey) also came in and there’s a few other to come in so over all I’m happy with what’s happening. We’re not going to look back, we’re just going to look forward to the match against Laois.”
Kildare open their league campaign against Laois in Newbridge on Sunday, February 24.