05 Dec 2021

Time for Kildare to sit down; take stock and plan for the future

Lilies a long way off the top sides

Time for Kildare to sit down; take stock and plan for the future

Louise, Sinead and Dan Goggins supporting Kildare against Tyrone

Coming out of Croke a few weeks back having taken a drubbing from one of the best teams that most of us have ever witnessed, there was little or no air of despondency; little talk of what went wrong; nor, where do we go from here attitude, despite a 15 point defeat. In fact many were of the opinion, including this writer, that taking everything into consideration Kildare had done as well as one could have hoped for against Dublin.
Roll the ball forward to Saturday last in St Conleth's Park; great crowd; great weather; great setting with many travelling to the county grounds with more than a glimmer of hope that at last we might get the better of one of the stronger counties and advance to Round 4 of the Qualifiers.
What did we get?
You know the more I think about it, the more one tries to analyse it, the more you look back on it, there is really only one conclusion one can come to and that is that defeat at the hands of Tyrone was a bigger hammering that the 15 point defeat at the hands of The Dubs.
Make no mistake about it Tyrone are a decent side; they are experienced; they have a plan; they play, as Kildare manager Cian O'Neill said after the game, the way we knew they would play.
Yet with all that information and all that knowledge, they (Tyrone) wiped Kildare out in the opening ten minutes, that left The Lilies clutching at straws, chasing the game, a game that was played on Tyrone's terms once they got the cushion of that early lead.
Yes, and in fairness, Kildare did reduce the deficit to two before the break, with a fine goal, followed by a good point, but just like Tyrone did after practically every time Kildare raised a flag, they hit back in style, hit back with purpose and hit back where in hurts most, on the score board.
Still the Lilies went to the comfort of their dressing room at the break, trailing by just three points.
The fans gave them a good half time roar, some even standing and clapping, so to all intents and purposes the winning of the game was well back within the reach of the boys in their bottle green shirts. Or so most of us hoped.
Manager O'Neill said they were quiet happy at the break; three down as they set out their plan for the second half.
And so we awaited their return.
Tyrone were out first.
We waited and waited for The Lilies.
I often wonder what the hell goes on in a Kildare dressing room at the break. There is only so much a player can listen to; so much a player can take in, so much a player wants to hear, yet they are kept in there to the death.
After what happened in the last few minutes of the opening half, one would have expected Kildare to come through the dressing room door with hardly a need to open it.
They should have been bursting out of their shirts to get back at Tyrone.
They should have been willing to throw everything bar the kitchen sink, and including the kitchen sink, at Tyrone on the resumption.
There was absolutely nothing to lose; a place in the draw on Monday morning was still within their grasp.
Yet what do we get?
We get a start to the second half an exact replica of the opening half; run over; pushed aside and within minutes the game was over; done and dusted.
Yes The Lilies kept going to the bitter end but that hardly deserves a congratulatory pat on the back; they have trained hard over the past six months; they have put a lot of time and effort in so to say they gave it their all is surely something that should happen every time someone pulls a Kildare shirt (white or bottle green) over their collective heads.
So now the season is over.
It is time to look forward.
Time to begin planning again.
Time to look back on a season to quote the manager “a season that has been a big disappointment.”
Disappointing League but at least Division 2 status was retained but then poor performances against Wicklow, Longford before booking a date with The Dubs.
So where from here.
One thing that needs to be done and done within the next three to four weeks is to clarify what is the position of the Kildare senior football manager.
Cian O'Neill has just completed his fourth year in charge; a term that has seen The Lilies climb back to the top table of Division 1 and while now back in Division 2 that achievement cannot, and should not, be dismissed easily.
Reaching the Super 8s last year was a real high point; defeating Mayo in Newbridge will be recalled for many a long day and then travelling south to take on Kerry, a game that Kildare could so easily have won.
But now we are where we are, it is time to sit down, take stock and plan for the future.
Whether that is with the present management or not is not for this writer to say.
But what really needs to be done is to make a decision and make it quickly and decisively, regardless.
Whether it is to offer the present manager another year (he was given an additional two year term last year, with a review after 2019); or whether they should look elsewhere for a new manager is what has to be decided.
Talking to a Co. Board officer over the weekend I was informed that the next Co. Board gathering is not due until September. However it is understood, clubs can call a county board meeting provided five look for one.
The senior club football championship is due to commence in five or six weeks; surely a decision on who will lead Kildare into 2020 should be taken well in advance of that; regardless of what the decision is; retaining the present or bringing in a new management team.
The Co. Board have a big role to play here.
A role of leadership.
A role of setting out a plan for the future.
2020 will see a lot of changes in Kildare; the start of the revamped St Conleth's Park; big changes at the top table at board level but the most important decision of all is possibly who will lead the county senior footballers come 2020.
Over to the Executive.
Let's be hearing from you.
Sooner rather than later.

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