Another voyage comes
to a fruitless ending

THE rain it came, it went, it re-appeared before heading south.

THE rain it came, it went, it re-appeared before heading south.

The sun appeared, vanished, returned again before departing for pastures new.

Kildare came, went awol before returning in a near blaze of glory before eventually disappearing off the radar, not to return as Cork tore strips off the Lilies, the likes of which we have not seen for many a long day.

First things first though.

Let’s give credit where credit it due.

Cork are a strong, experienced talented side that possess some of the best footballers around and will take a lot of beating in 2012.

But that doesn’t make it any easier.

That doesn’t take away the pain.

Not just the pain of defeat but the pain of being stripped practically naked for all to see.

The pain of once again being so close but having gone through what we went through on Sunday, knowing that we are as far away as ever in the quest for championship silverware.

Some years ago Kildare were referred to as the All Ireland Challenge Champions.

Now we can probably be referred to as the All Ireland qualifier champions. Unbeaten in five years in the backdoor after some 12 or 13 games.

But at the end of the day no silverware; no trophies; no celebrations.


Heartbreak in abundance.

It was 2008 when Cork last dumped Kildare out of the All Ireland series.

That day two early goals from the Rebels set up their win.

This time it was another two first half goals that had our backs to the wall once again.

But Kildare did respond and responded splendidly.

The introduction of Daryl Flynn after 20 minutes was the conduit.

From getting a hammering in the middle section the Lilies suddenly got a grip; began to win the breaking balls and make no mistake, had Cork on the ropes.

Trailing 2-5 to 0-3 after 19 minutes it was looking gloomy but a bit like the sun and the rain, t he Lilies rose, took over, held Cork scoreless for the rest of the half while hitting five points on the trot, going in just three adrift.

It was a half time whistle that Kildare could have done without.

On top all over the field they were attacking the Rebels at every opportunity. Tomás O’Connor was (again) proving the ideal target man; Flynn made one brilliant catch but more importantly was denying Cork the possession that proved so vital (and costly) in the middle part of the half.

Could Kildare keep up the momentum?

Could Cork regain control?

For some seven or eight minutes the three point gap remained. A bit of scuffle saw players square up to one another.

It was the beginning of the end.

Suddenly Cork took control.

The masters shook off the pretenders.

Inside three minutes the gap went to six and but for a brilliant Shane Connolly finger tip save it could have been more, but Cork kicked on.

It wouldn’t be fair to say the Rebels steam rolled Kildare but they literally pushed them aside.

Suddenly the legs began to tire.

Four weekends (plus one bout of extra time) quickly took its toll.

Mentally and physically Kildare fell apart.

Was it surprising?


The mind and the body can only take so much.

Despite annihilating Cavan, getting out of jail against Limerick (against a better team that probably wouldn’t have happened). They showed up Sligo for what they are, a pretty average lower division team.

And so it was on to Cork.

A big ask at the best of times have no doubt.

But an ask, following the road that this Kildare team have travelled this season, it was always going to be a big, big ask.

It’s not rocket science.

It is not being wise after the event.

Yes of course we all pointed out that Cork had not had a game for six weeks and two weeks prior to that was their only real competitive game of the season against Kerry.

It is a long lay-off but a lay-off that proved more beneficial to them than the road Kildare had to steer.

Kildare’s real turning point in the season of 2012 was the Meath game.

That was the game that the team, as a whole, flopped and flopped badly.

That was the game that sent us down this tortuous qualifier cul de sac.

The qualifier route is probably the greatest road a team can travel that is capable of sending out wrong signals; giving false hopes and raising false expectations.

God knows we know it, we have been down it every season for the last five and have yet to even reach the Holy Grail of an All Ireland decider.

Cracks can, and have been, papered over, ignored or simply not seen when going the back door route.

A couple of players have been showing signs of fatigue; signs of burn out and signs of losing form but the signs were ignored, or probably more to the point, left aside in the hope that they would come right on the day.

Injuries, of course, have been a problem as they will be with most teams.

Few teams would find it difficult to cope without the likes of Daryl Flynn, Eamonn Callaghan and Hughie Lynch, not forgetting Dermot Earley.

Ironically, with the exception of the Naas man, the rest all saw action on Sunday last. Flynner was responsible for Kildare getting back into the game; Dermot got another twelve or 13 minutes when all was lost, while Hughie just got a blood sub run when everything was done and dusted.

It is not an excuse for the defeat, or for the disappointment but at the same time should not be ignored or forgotten.

There will be criticism of course and probably rightly so, particularly in the use of the bench. Not for the first time the team management have baffled many of us whether calling a player ashore (especially) or indeed when introducing a new face. But in fairness substitutions are inevitably a gamble. When they work it’s great, when they don’t, well you know the rest.

It has been a difficult season in many respects, not helped by the Seanie Johnston saga, dragged out unnecessarily, at the behest of Croke Park I hasten to add, but it probably didn’t help the cause.

When you look back at 2012 yes of course there is no championship silverware on the table, but there can only be one winner and when it’s the qualifier route that is taken the consequences for a team such as Kildare will inevitably end in tears.

Possibly a bigger emphasis could, and should, be placed on winning a Leinster title at all costs and anything after that should fall into the bonus category.

Very few teams gain All Ireland success before gaining provincial honours first.

It’s a bit like learning to walk before learning to run.

There are of course no shortage of critics who will be leading the charge for a change at the top, a change that would see Kieran McGeeney depart.

I’m sorry to disappoint but I won’t be joining that band wagon.

McGeeney and his players have given us some great days; some great outings and some memorable journeys.

Our stock under the present regime has risen and risen dramatically and yes last Sunday was a major, major disappointment, but we are still short a few quality players and unless and until we can unearth them, we will struggle with the big boys, regardless who is calling the shots from the sideline.