Worrying times as Lilies out-played and out-gunned

Disappointing end to League campaign

Tommy Callaghan

Reporter:

Tommy Callaghan

Email:

tommy.callaghan@leinsterleader.ie

Worrying times as Lilies out-played and out-gunned

Kildare manager Cian O'Neill

Half time in Fr Tierney Park in Ballyshannon on Sunday and the mobile bleeped. A message from a regular traveller to games but could not make it on this occasion.
If you leave now (half time) you'll be back home for a pint before the Angelus rings out.
I declined the suggestion, somewhat reluctantly I have to say, well not really, never left a game at half time in my life but could certainly have understood if some or any, of the Kildare supporters that had travelled big distances to witness a display that was as close to being as embarrassing as one could get.
It was a game that the toss of the coin was always going to have a major bearing on the outcome and while there seems to be a lot of disagreement who won the toss, it was Donegal who had the elements in their favour in the opening half and within eight minutes the home side were four clear. The writing was on the wall.
But let's not suggest for one minute that if it was Kildare who had begun with the very strong wind on their backs, the result would have been different.
The display from the boys in white suggested that if they had played with the wind in both halves they would probably not have won this one.
Out-played, out-fought, out-maneuvered, out-thought The Lilies kept their worse performance for the final game of this campaign.
If this had been a race at Punchestown, The Curragh or Naas, there would have been an immediate Stewards Enquiry.
Those participating would have been called before the stewards to explain their actions, or in this case their lack of actions.
One well know Kildare supporter, irate to say the least, suggested as he made his way back to his car, that Kildare did not want to return to Division 1; they are happy where they are was his views.
And while I could see where he was coming from, I could not for the life of me agree with his assessment.
But cast your mind back some 12 months ago; the same two teams in the final round of 2018 league. Kildare without a win and Donegal no better.
We left the Ballyshannon grounds that day feeling very sorry for ourselves as it was a game that Kildare should have won but for the seventh outing in that campaign left empty handed.
Has anything changed?
I would suggest a lot.
Donegal have come on in leaps and bounds while Kildare, it would seem, have gone in the opposite direction, gone back, big time.
Don't forget the three teams that Kildare defeated in this season's campaign are the three teams that fought out relegation.
No doubt the two best displays came against Meath and Clare, but only, and this cannot be forgotten, only in the opening half.
Against The Royals, a fiercely impressive opening half was followed by a total collapse. Something similar against Clare, but thankfully they held off a fairly decent Clare comeback in the second half to collect the points.
Looking back at those games, and actually in most of Kildare games this season, would it be fair to suggest that The Lilies look off the boil, off the pace, maybe even lacking in fitness levels at this level?

Maybe, maybe not, but it is certainly a legitimate query.
Another aspect of Kildare's play that needs to be looked at, and looked at big time, is discipline.
Black cards, yellow cards and red cards have been prevalent in practically every game and it has certainly not helped the cause.
Yet even after all that Kildare were just 70 minutes from returning to the top division. It was a situation that one would have thought and expected would bring out the best in the team; an opportunity to return to the top table.
And then you get a display that was both heartbreaking and disappointing to the point one would wonder if everyone is pulling together.
Are the players all singing off the same sheet?
Is the management all singing off the same sheet?
Is there a togetherness that is so essential if success is to be gained; a togetherness that includes all, not some, but all of the relevant stake holders?
We hear everything in the camp is rosy, but that depends on who you are talking to.

Talk of unity would not be a trait universally held it would seem.

Are all the players happy and content in the squad?

Having said all that missing players such as Ben McCormack, Paul Cribbin, Niall Kelly, not forgetting one Daniel Flynn, and a few others coming back form injury, was always going to be a big ask.
Incidentally word on the grapevine is that the Johnstownbridge man is back in Lilywhite land.

What a bonus it would be to have him back in the fold.
Ben McCormack (finally) had his operation on Friday last and depending again on who you are talking to will be out of action for between 6 and 12 weeks.
Eoghan O'Flaherty played 30 minutes for his club last weekend while a few others of the walking wounded are expected back in a week or two.
One thing is for sure, on what we have seen to date, there is a mountain of work to be undertaken between now and championship time.
As ever, we live in hope but patience is certainly been tested!