You pay your money, you take your choice.
Banty was back on the touch line Dancing mode.
McGeeney and Co?
Well they never really found the dance floor.
And now to boot a visit to Seanie Johnston land in the qualifiers, writes Tommy Callaghan.
Who would have believed it.
The sceptics would say the GAA ...
No, don’t go down that road.
But back to the action and the writing for this one was on the wall early. Very early in fact.
From the time the ball was thrown in, Kildare were struggling.
Meath came with a plan.
Not an over elaborate plan mind you.
A fairly simple plan.
Pack the defence.
Drop a midfielder back to number six.
Drop the number six back behind the half back line.
And then work your socks off. Coming forward in numbers and at pace when the opportunity arose.
Remind you of any team?
The Lilies were beaten at their own game on Sunday.
And well beaten at that.
When you go in at half time only one point in arrears and you are fairly happy at that it says it all.
Kildare had been under pressure time and time again in this one.
Every time that Meath came forward they threatened.
And they threatened.
And they threatened.
Under pressure in midfield throughout, the Kildare defence as a unit never got into their attacking mode.
Their number one priority was to defend, they didn’t like it and while they certainly did not get much rub of the green (the Meath goal ought to have been a free out) overall Kildare can have few complaints.
The sending off of Daryl Flynn (first yellow an absolute joke) was the final nail in the Kildare coffin.
Meath sensed blood and while Kildare did take the lead with a Michael Conway goal (going in off a defender) within a minute the Royals had the game back on level terms and the Lilies failed to bother the scoreboard again.
And from there, there was always only going to be one result.
A result that no Kildare man or woman could quibble with.
A result that Meath fully deserved.
A result that sends Kildare down the qualifier route for the fifth season in a row.
This time though and on Sunday’s performance, and now having to travel to Breffni Park, it is going to take one almighty effort to make an impression in the back door series.
Nothing is impossible of course.
Anything can happen.
No need to throw in the towel yet.
Can they put an absolute dreadful performance behind them and rise again?
We have to believe they can.
But why were they so flat on the day?
One eye on the Dubs?
And a crack at the Leinster title?
A combination of all these, probably.
Some will point to the Seanie Johnston debacle but I don’t for one minute believe that had any bearing, at least not on the overall display.
Meath looked more up for the game than Kildare. Hungrier too.
Having got a third game, against Carlow, would seem now to have been a crucial factor.
It was that game that gave them the confidence and the belief, that without some of their better known stars, they were still more than capable of taking Kildare on the day.
Unfortunately there were few stars on the Kildare team.
Mick Foley had a ding dong battle with Joe Sheridan with the big number 14 coming out on top in the end but the entire full back line was under constant and consistent pressure.
Rarely picking up the breaking ball in the middle and while Emmet Bolton was seen on numerous occasions beavering forward, even he, apart from an early point, failed to penetrate that tight marking Meath rearguard.
Midfield played second fiddle for long periods. Daryl Flynn and Padraig O’Neill never gained parity in this area and while Flynn’s first yellow was downright wrong the odds of him picking up a second were narrowing by the minute.
It is fair to say that a player like Flynn, when on a yellow, is really walking on thin ice and it took just nine minutes between the first and the second.
Should he have been replaced once the first yellow arrived?
Hindsight is a great thing of course but when Ciaran Lenihan picked up Meath’s first yellow after 16 minutes by the 19th minute he was on the bench.
Some players can carry yellows, others can’t and Daryl Flynn, unfortunately, falls into the latter category.
Up front Kildare failed to ignite.
Players such as Johnny Doyle, James Kavanagh, Mikey Conway and Eoghan O’Flaherty never came close to reaching the heights they are capable of. They looked far from fresh, bordering on stale at times.
Alan Smith, played too deep early on, but showed fine form knocking over three excellent points to raise the hopes of all of Kildare.
And what of Tomás O’Connor?
Overall I must say I felt he did okay considering some of the ball that came into him looked like it could have been dropped out of a Michael O’Leary incoming flight.
Hoofing balls into the full forward line to a player with at least two and some times three around him was always a gamble, yet the big Clane man did well; calling him ashore did not make much sense to most it has to be said.
Substitutions are often a gamble.
You take a chance.
Some days they come off.
Some times they don’t.
Making three substitutions at the same time in the 62 minute was certainly a gamble. The fact that Kildare failed to score from the 56 minute suggests that the gamble failed, albeit when with fourteen men.
But one thing is for sure, changes had to be made, the players on the field up to then were not going to win the game.
So now it’s up to Breffni.
Who would believe it.
Just when we expected the Seanie Johnston affair to die away up pops Cavan. And another circus.
On Sunday’s performance and taking everything into consideration, a game that you would expect Kildare to win suddenly looks a major obstacle.
Approaching that game in the wrong frame of mind, taking the eye off the ball and the season of 2012 could well be history!
A win can get Kildare back rockin’ and rollin’ again.
On the other hand a loss could have major consequences.