I ‘VE SEEN seen more pushing at the mart on a Friday morning than what was there today was the reaction of one Kildare fan as we exited St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, on Sunda, writes Tommy Callaghan.
And while I couldn’t vouch for such at the Friday morning mart, what went on in Clones was nothing but shoving and pushing and ‘hold me back’ type of stuff. It doesn’t look pretty, should not happen but let’s not lose the run of ourselves here, despite RTE radio and TV doing their best to turn it into a near conflict of Syrian proportions.
There was an incident in Saturday night’s Kerry versus Armagh Division 1 game when a much decorated player in the green and gold was seen on camera forcefully putting his knee into the ‘privates’ of an opponent and while the Kerry man was immediately dispatched with a red card, I would suggest that his action was ten times worse than the entire ‘handbags’ that occurred in Clones.
Gaelic football is a physical sport; it is tough, at times it crosses over the line but considering the amount of games that are played in a season both at club and inter-county level, the number of incidents are relatively small in number and while that is not to trivialise what occurred, nevertheless it should be kept in context.
No doubt, with the Director General, Pauric Duffy sitting comfortably in the front row of the best seats in town at Clones on Sunday, an investigation, enquiry, call it what you like will probably be set up to look into the fracas.
A waste of time without a doubt. Referee McQuillan dealt with it as he saw it and while it is difficult to understand how he could pick out just one player for a red card (Brian Flanagan) he acted as he saw fit.
It was a terrible pity he was not as vigilant throughout the game as he was selecting names for cards during the half time break.
McQuillan’s antics in booking Niall Carew is another baffling one. The Kildare selector is perfectly entitled to be on the field of play giving his players instructions. It all simply adds to the intrigue of the match official’s display, while the amount of times he penalised or failed to give Daryl Flynn a free would try the patience of a bloody saint.
Overall the display from a man who is regarded as one of the top whistlers in the county had, in this writer’s opinion an absolute stinker. Now don’t get me wrong, his decisions had no bearing on the result with Monaghan far and away the best team on the day, nevertheless I would suggest that most fair minded people would agree that the display of the match official was so biased it was hard to understand and practically impossible to fathom.
I would dearly love to see the referee assessor’s report as it would surely make for some interesting reading.
And so to the real action itself.
And what a horrible performance from the boys in white (sorry navy blue and green). It was shocking and even after just two Football League games, it is somewhat worrying. Another display such as this and the worry will soon be turning to alarm.
When Sunday’s team was finally announced it showed five changes in personnel from the side that went under to Tyrone. Peter Kelly was a virus victim, while Ciaran Fitzpatrick picked up a wrist injury, which thankfully we hear will not keep him out of action for too long.
The team itself failed to function as a unit. The defence was pulled to shreds with Paul Finlay putting on a masterclass display while Matthew McKenna and the hard working Kieran Hughes at full forward doing a lot of the spade work.
Kildare’s midfield, while not dominating, did reasonably okay but for the second week in a row bringing in Johnny Doyle to the middle (replacing Ken Donnelly on this occasion) and moving Roli Sweeney up front simply did not work. Johnny is not functioning on full throttle by any manner of means at the minute while moving Sweeney up front practically took him out of the game.
The defence to a man was extremely poor. The amount of room they afforded their opponents was the stuff of schoolboys.
On Sunday last Kildare looked like a team that was in dire need of a rest; in dire need of recharging of the batteries. Time and time again they were second to the ball, as they looked leg-weary right from the word go.
The team itself certainly looked disjointed. Surely a fine natural forward like Eoghan O’Flaherty should be restored to where he can do most damage for Kildare, he improved matters considerably when moved forward but the time to stop the experiment at wing back has surely arrived while lining out Johnny Doyle, who was the top scorer in the entire country twice in the last few years, needs to be pushed forward where he can be most effective.
Is Mikey Conway the answer to the troublesome centre forward spot? Has he the legs for that position, would he not be more dangerous nearer to goal, near to the breaking ball from the likes of Tomas O’Connor.
O’Connor himself was disappointing last week, he found his immediate opponent somewhat of a handful but he was certainly very predicable on the day.
At the back the return of Mick Foley is to be welcomed, hopefully he will get enough game time to get him back to his best.
Centre back remains a troublesome spot and while Tommy O’Neill is a good defender, a fine tackler, who reads the game well, is centre back his best position?
There are more problems at the minute than there are solutions and while it is, as we said earlier, just two games into the league the fact that we are looking towards the bottom of the table rather than the top of it tells it all.
Of course it must not be forgotten that Kildare played the entire second half with just 14 men, overall though a horrible disappointing day, one no doubt that McGeeney and his selectors and his players will realise.
Next up are the Royals in Pairc Tailteann. Another tough game against Banty’s unbeaten side.
Another display like last Sunday and the diminishing hopes of promotion to Division 1 will definitely be but a distant dream but even more worrying the possibility of relegation will start to come into the picture.
That would be some scenario.
Maybe a bit of a rest over the coming weeks might do the trick.
We live in hope.