01 Dec 2021

Kildare face a tough task but mountains are there to be climbed

Longford dispatched, Dubs next up

Kildare face a tough task but mountains are there to be climbed

Mark Dempsey (Kildare) gets away from Longford's Barry O'Farrell

It's not unusual in this great little country of ours to experience a few variations of weather, all in the one day; anything from wet miserable and cold, to sunshine and a bit of warmth even.
A bit like Kildare footballers at present I have to say.
On Sunday last, and for the second week in a row in the lovely surroundings of O'Connor Park, Tullamore, the weather was blustery, very blustery and it remained that way throughout the afternoon.
The footballers of Kildare though were not so consistent.
In front of 4,326 The Lilies fans were put through the grinder again but unlike the weather they improved as the game went on, albeit after putting in a start that would make one wonder, only momentarily I have to stress, if they were more interested in heading to Netwatch Cullen Park instead of going up the N7 and a trip to the GAA Headquarters to take on the record breaking Dubs, come Sunday.
Kildare had come in for a fair bit of stick over the past week, and rightly so it has to be said.
Management and players were no doubt feeling the heat after struggling to put Longford away, that despite, as they were against Wicklow, a 'stone' better.
Adjustments were made.
Not for the first time when things are not going to plan The Lilies revert to one of the tried and trusted.
Tommy Moolick.
One of my favourite players over the past number of seasons, big Tommy is a warrior, a worker, he leaves everything on the pitch.
He gets up and down the playing area like a war horse.
We have said it before and we will say it again, Tommy Moolick is one of the most honest players that has ever put on a white shirt.
A modern day Willie McCreery.
The school master from Leixlip has had many ups and downs in his time. He has been left out, brought back in, performed, left out again, brought back in again, yet while no doubt disappointed, he always seems to dust himself down, get back up on the horse and does the business. Again.
There are many aspects of Kildare that puzzles us, not just these days but many days, one of them is why Tommy Moolick is not an automatic choice.
He reminds me of a fellow club mate of his own, Ronan Quinn. A man who never in all his time playing for Kildare, let the side down, yet back when we were last in touching distance of Sam it was Quinn who was sacrificed.
No need to be heading back down that road again, I can hear you say, but these two lads always did and always will give it absolutely everything, and no one can ask for any more than that.
Back to Sunday and that opening 20 minutes or so, all the old failings were there to be seen.
Creating chances, buckets of them, but for some reason failing, not to actually put the final nail in the coffin of the opposition, but to actually put the first nail in.
It was heart wrenching stuff.
And then, just like following a heavy shower of rain, the skies slowly and gradually brighten up before the sun breaks through and what was a dark looking afternoon is replaced with a blue sky, a few floating whiter than white clouds dancing along the sky line.
Enter Fergal Conway.
It was just after the opposition had landed the first punch, suddenly Conway decided to grab the game by the scruff of the neck; took control; took on the Longford defence, using his power and strength, he tested the rigging behind the Longford net minder.
And while the rigging duly passed its stern test, more importantly The Lilies were up and running.
It was from this point on that the confidence began to rise.
The belief began to flow.
Struggling to put The Garden men in their box and dispatch outsiders Longford to the Qualifiers quickly became a distant memory, a forgotten nightmare.
Granted it took until the second half before the nails began to make an impact.
And when the opposition again laid the opening punch after the resumption, The Lilies took control and in a six minute spell put the contest beyond doubt.
And the winner's prize?
A trip to the Big Smoke.
A trip to take on the best.
The very best.
The Dubs are aiming to re-write the history books.
The five-in-row dream is gathering momentum.
Some suggest there is a major storm on the way.
A storm capable of laying The Lilies flat on the ground.
Who knows.
But Croker is the place to be.
It is what every young (and not so young) footballer should dream about.
Playing in Croke Park.
And against the best in the land.
That is what summer is all about.
Rubbing shoulders with the best, the very best.
No ifs or buts, this Dublin side is probably the greatest any of us have ever had the pleasure to see.
Household names.
A bench good enough to test the best of the rest.
But we still want to be there.
Nothing against Netwatch Cullen Park but come Sunday afternoon anyone worth his or her salt would take Croke over Cullen Park.
The layers give The Lilies no chance whatsoever.
Put down 33 euros and you can pick up 34 if The Dubs keep their incredible run in Leinster alive.
For those who believe that anything is possible you can earn 11 euros for one if you think that the biggest upset since The Faithful Boys halted The Kingdom's drive-for-five back in '82 can be repeated.
For those who dabble in points that never appear on any score board the layers tell us that if Kildare start with 13 invisible points on the board, they still won't win.
That's the task that lies ahead.
A mighty mountain to climb.
A storm the likes of which The Lilies have not experienced.
But mountains are there to be climbed.
Storms are there to be managed.
Dreams are there to be dreamt.
When you stop dreaming you can throw the towel in.
Walk away.
Hang up the boots.
Take to the terraces.
At the end of the day The Dubs will do what The Dubs will do.
This is not about The Dubs.
This is about Kildare.
And how Kildare will attempt to reach the top of the mountain.
Or how they will cope with the forthcoming storm.
Regardless of how things pan out.

Regardless of the outcome.
Come Sunday.
I'd still rather be in Croker than in Cullen Park!

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