ONE game in and one defeat. Hardly an ideal start to life in Division 2A for the Kildare hurlers, writes Ruth Chambers.
Facing Laois in the opening round, despite playing at home, was always going to be a tough task for Willie Sunderland’s side and despite the nine point defeat there were some positives to take from the encounter.
During the opening 35 minutes Kildare weren’t really at the proverbial races but they turned it around in the second and gave the visitors a run for their money. However, missed chances and the concession of some silly frees certainly contributed to the Lilies’ downfall.
“We gave it a go in the end alright but you have to play the game over 70 minutes. In the first half, whether we were a little bit overawed or what, we let them (Laois) off the hook. We missed some crucial frees and even the basics, like the first touch, wasn’t there like it should have been and I’m disappointed in that,” said manager Willie Sunderland at full time.
He added: “The most heartening thing though was that they did pick it up in the second half. For a while they looked like they could have came back and won the game but we gave away some silly frees. We worked our heart out to get a score and then went and conceded silly frees at the other end to nullify what we had done. We just have to get back to basics. We’ll work hard for the next few weeks and hopefully when we hit the Wicklow game we’ll be in better shape.”
The Lilies were a changed side in the second period and perhaps it was Sunderland’s rousing half time talk that jolted them in to life?
“People often talk about what’s said in a dressing room at half time but sometimes there’s very little you can say. They are an honest bunch of fellas and they know they didn’t perform in the first half and they know they can perform better than they did in the second too as it transpires,” he admitted.
The Wexford man wasn’t all doom and gloom and looked for the positives ahead of Kildare’s second round game against Wicklow in Croke Park.
“The way we finished the game was positive. Well maybe not the finish but there was a period in the middle of the second half when we started to open up and got a few scores.
“They now understand where they are at now but they should have understood that before today. They are good hurlers down in Laois and I’ve always said that and they are a Liam McCarthy Cup team but that’s no consolation to us,” said Sunderland.
On Sunday, March 10 Sunderland’s players will get the chance to show off their skills at headquarters in the second round and although the boss thinks it’s a welcome move, all he is concerned about is putting two points on the board and not the venue.
“I don’t particularly care whether it’s Croke Park, St Conleth’s or any other park, the most important thing that we’re looking for is getting two points on the board. It’s all about a result. Don’t get me wrong it’s great to play in Croke Park but going to Croke Park and being a winner is more important than playing there,” he insisted.