HIS team is back on track. Just over two weeks ago Kildare bowed out of the Leinster Championship after a most disappointing display against Meath but last Sunday they picked themselves up, brushed aside the Royal’s neighbours with ease and now find themselves in the third round of the qualifiers, writes Ruth Chambers.
There was much to be happy about for Kieran McGeeney after last Sunday’s drubbing of Cavan, despite the obvious lack of quality from Terry Hyland’s team. The Lilies’ attack certainly fired on all cylinders with Alan Smith and Tomas O’Connor standing out in particular and the manager was pleased with his teams showing but knows improvement is needed.
“It was decent but it just gets us in to the next round. We just have to knuckle down, work hard and go at it again,” McGeeney said at full time.
“The first five minutes of the game and probably the first seven or eight minutes of the second half were tough. Cavan really came at us. I think Keating is a class player though. He’s good in the air, has both feet and he did cause us problems inside.
“We probably lost our way around the middle a bit too. We’ve been killed with injuries in the middle. Daryl (Flynn) has a groin problem, Paudie (O’Neill) has been off form a wee bit, Dermot (Earley) is just coming back and Hughie Lynch is just coming back too. Mick (Foley) had played well for us there in the league but there’s big difference going from full back to midfield and maybe the legs were getting tired late on,” added the manager.
Of course all eyes were on Kildare’s new boy in Breffni Park too. Seanie Johnston was named among the substitutes in a ground he is oh so familiar with and on 62 minutes he got his chance. The manager now hopes that the whole saga will be put to bed.
“I would like to have had it but to bed four or five months ago. He was playing well this week in training so he deserved a chance and he got it. Smithy (Alan Smith) had been going well and Tom (O’Connor) in the inside line and Jimmers (James Kavanagh) was moving well too and he (Johnston) still has a bit more to do before he dislodges any of those. The three inside fellas played well and that’s the level he (Johnston) has to get too if he wants to start. He’s like everybody else and I can’t treat him any differently. If he’s playing well he’s entitled to a start,” insisted the Armagh man.
Kildare’s support was massive in Cavan. The sheer volume of traffic on route to Breffni Park signalled a bumper visiting crowd and McGeeney paid tribute to the Lilies’ fans afterwords. However, he refused to acknowledge that that atmosphere, especially when Johnston made an appearance, was more hostile than most.
“There was a great atmosphere. Kildare supporters were brilliant today. Fantastic from the word go. I’ve got booed on a football field before, it’s no big deal,” remarked McGeeney.
Up next is Limerick in Newbridge and Kildare will be intent on keeping the wagon rolling. Their record in the qualifiers speaks for itself and they don’t want it tarnished.
“Everybody keeps saying that we haven’t beaten any of the top teams but if we did we’d be All Ireland champions. They are the top four teams for a reason and we’re trying to break in to it. You now have Tyrone, Kerry and Laois in the draw and they are all moving well. You seen Tipperary yesterday too and their performance against Kerry was obviously no fluke. At the end of the day the people who are doing the talking will have the last laugh. You have to win something to try and stop that,” said McGeeney.
And winning something is all that’s on his mind.