Despite ref’s faux pas this was far from a vintage Kildare display

NOT for the first time Kildare were involved in a fine game of football with the Dubs.

NOT for the first time Kildare were involved in a fine game of football with the Dubs.

But unfortunately you get nothing for that.

Eamonn Callaghan’s goal late on will probably be a contender for the goal of the season.

But you get nothing for that either.

Of course the easy target is the match official. And yes it was a wrong call by referee Cormac Reilly on Andrew McLoughlin but these type of calls happen all the time and while it seems to happen to Kildare a lot of late, nevertheless it should not cloud over a very disappointing overall display from Kildare on the day.

Manager, Kieran McGeeney and his selectors certainly had the tongues wagging when the team finally hit the streets on Saturday evening.

Starting Ollie Lyons in his first championship game against Dublin is one thing but asking him to mark Bernard Brogan who is regarded (and rightly so) as one of the best inside forwards in the modern game was entirely something else.

But in fairness to the Celbridge man he probably did as well as anyone would have had on Brogan, while at the same time dropping Andrew McLoughlin seemed extremely harsh on the Ellistown player.

As for the game itself Kildare on their first half showing showed Dublin way too much respect. It was like they believed and sucked in everything that has been written about Gilroy’s boys who, let’s be fair, have not proven themselves by any stretch of the imagination over the last few seasons.

This is the same Dublin side that choked in the National League final and not for the first time but still it seemed Kildare were somewhat overawed by them particularly in the opening half.

An opening half it has to be said that Kildare’s tactics simply did not work.

Kicking long high, hopeful balls into Sweeney and Smith was like cannon fodder for the Dubs full back line.

Remember Rory O’Carroll is one of the best number threes around at the minute while Michael Fitzsimons is no mean defender either.

Surely the way to beat Dublin is to run at them. That is where they are vulnerable as was shown in the second half when Kildare finally began to show what they are capable of.

The Lilies did lack Johnny Doyle’s influence and while the captain did all in his power it was obvious he was not a fully fit player from early on.

The Allenwood man had not trained for the best part of a fortnight and it was clear the engine was not purring like we have become accustomed to.

However one can only wonder at the tactic of playing Doyle as a sweeper in the second half. The top scorer in the country for the past two years would surely have been better employed nearer to the Dublin goals rather than further from it under the circumstances.

Kildare’s half back line of Bolton, White and O’Flaherty has been one of the strongest in this campaign to date. However on Sunday the line just did not function as a unit at all and on top of that Dublin’s one and only goal came from a dreadful mistake with Kildare losing possession but even at that when Paul Flynn got hold of the ball he actually lost control of it but still had the time to regain control before firing it past Shane Connolly.

And all that came after Kildare had settled down to take the lead (0-3 to 0-2) after fifteen minutes but the fact that they managed just one more white flag before the break was a sure indication that everything was not going to plan.

Coming into this game there was a worry that Kildare needed to create a lot of scoring opportunities having hit 35 wides in their two opening games. And while they certainly improved in that regard, recording nine wides on Sunday, nevertheless it should not be forgotten that on seven occasions they hit the ball into Stephen Cluxton’s arms.

That is practically a mortal sin against a side like Dublin and a ‘keeper like Cluxton who is probably the best in the business in those type of situations.

To be fair to Kildare they did prevent Cluxton from finding men early on but when Eamonn Fennell was introduced, Cluxton seemed to find the St Vincent’s man with consummate ease.

Eoghan O’Gara’s sending off certainly helped Kildare and while it took them an awful long time to capitalise on it, it should not be forgotten that the Dublin defence as a whole did extremely well stifling the Kildare attack time and time again.

But as we said earlier that Kildare attack, particularly in the opening half was really poor. Four points in 37 minutes could hardly be described as vintage football.

Eoghan O’Flaherty hit two early second half points before Andrew McLoughlin made a brilliant goal line clearance to prevent a certain Dublin goal and that seemed to lift the Kildare boys with Eamonn Callaghan and Rob Kelly (did very well in the second half) finding the range to leave just two between them.

But despite playing with the extra man Kildare just could not get that lead down to one never mind square up proceedings.

Four points were shared before the Dubs put four between them, and all seemed lost.

Then the move of the game saw Eamonn Callaghan hit a brilliant goal to leave the minimum between them and two minutes later the game was tied with Callaghan once again splitting the posts in the 71st minute.

The rest as they say is history.

Cluxton’s kick out landed on a blue shirt. The ball was kicked forward and heading out of play.

The match official signalled McLoughlin pulled Brogan and awarded the free which was duly kicked over (after the Dublin player stole at least five yards) to win the game.

McLoughlin was adament after the game he did not foul and the TV pictures certainly came down on his side.

But at the end of the day and despite a heroic fight back, it is difficult to dispute that the best team on this showing are through to the Leinster final.

A draw was maybe the best that Kildare deserved, but it was not to be.

This Kildare team has been involved in some great games over the past few years but unfortunately have failed to defeat any of the top three or four sides on the journey.

Until that is achieved the Lilies will remain a lovely side to look at. A side that is good value for money but unfortunatley a side that has of yet, not quite made the break through that all involved, players, management and supporters yearn for.

Next up the qualifiers and a trip to Portlaoise to take on a Laois side that has gained promotion to Division 1. A Laois side that recorded a comfortable high scoring win over Tipperary in the opening round of the qualifiers.

Expect nothing easy from Justin McNulty’s side, despite the hiding they got at the hands of the Dubs.

But show them too much respect, like what was shown to Dublin, and the result could be the same again!