Front door still the best way forward despite Lilies' advance, says Kavanagh
IT'S the goal that will feature in every end-of-season highlights reel. Kildare's James Kavanagh gathers a high, dropping ball in the Meath full-back line, sells the deftest of dummies with a right-footed solo and taps home from a narrow angle with the left.
It was a moment of footballing instinct, but one the Ballymore man plays down.
"It was my first goal in Croke Park so I was just happy to get the first goal there. It wasn't a bad one to start off with, I suppose," he said yesterday.
Kavanagh's man-of-the-match performance against the Royals helped him win the Opel GPA Player of the Month award for July, along with Waterford hurler Michael 'Brick' Walsh, and that win brought to an end a gruelling schedule of six successive weekends of championship action for the Lilywhites.
"It was nice to get a break and freshen up the legs," said the 25-year-old. "We enjoyed that six weeks on the trot but the focus went straight back to training after (the Meath game).
"The six weeks didn't seem to bother us. Kieran (McGeeney) kept telling us it was in the head and a lot of it is."
Kildare made no secret of the fact that their primary aim for this season was to win the Leinster title, and although they are now just 70 minutes away from their first All-Ireland final appearance since 1998, Kavanagh believes the front door is still the best way to go, despite all four provincial champions losing out at the quarter-final stage.
"Our goal at the start of the year was to win Leinster, so we failed in that objective," he said.
"We would like to have won Leinster and not have gone (through) the back door, but these things happen and you have to take them in your stride."
Down stunned Kerry to earn their last-four spot and Kavanagh wants to set the record straight with the Mourne men after they inflicted a heavy defeat on the Lilywhites in Newbridge in the league in February.
"In fairness to Down, they have kept their form all year. We know we have a lot to do. Hopefully it won't go the way the league match went. We know we didn't perform on the day so I wouldn't read too much into it."