Grimley says 'majestic' Lilies must be faster off the mark
Paul Grimley has predicted that a "majestic" Kildare outfit that boasts one of "the top half-dozen forwards in Ireland" in James Kavanagh can go all the way to an All-Ireland final, but insists that they must cut out the slow starts and perform for an entire game.
Grimley was part of the Monaghan management set-up that saw their team lose to Kildare on Sunday but is better placed than most to analyse Kieran McGeeney's men, having spent the previous two years as coach and selector with his fellow Armagh native.
In every championship outing this year, Kildare have begun poorly and it was only against Louth in the Leinster championship that they failed to turn it around, having left themselves too much to do after defending abysmally.
It took two bites of the cherry to dispense with the Antrim challenge but since then Leitrim, Derry and Monaghan have all fallen by the wayside, despite those teams enjoying a better opening than the men from the Short Grass.
Kildare play Leinster champions Meath in the All-Ireland quarter-final and, even with Kavanagh and Eamonn Callaghan in stellar form, and Morgan O'Flaherty dominating midfield, the tendency to rely on second-half blitzkriegs will have to be shelved if they are to go all the way, according to Grimley.
"When James plays well he is probably in the top half-dozen forwards in Ireland and he showed true class," said Grimley of the Ballymore man's prodigious performance against Monaghan. "Some of the points he was taking were absolutely magnificent.
"The only thing I would say for them is that, from here on in, if you want to kick on, you'll really have to turn that 35 minutes into 70."
While Saturday was the first time that the Monaghan assistant manager had seen them in the flesh, he was thoroughly impressed by what he had seen of Kildare's 11-point demolition of Derry.
"Coming into the game, I knew we had to rack up a four- or five-point lead to put any doubts in Kildare's mind. Once we went in at half-time a point down, I had the feeling we were in trouble," said Grimley. "I've only seen them on TV and I thought their performance against Derry in the second half was majestic.
"Their movement off the ball and what Kieran has instilled in them over the last three years is starting to come to fruition. I can see them going further, to a semi-final and beyond." And the former Kildare selector admitted that plotting against a group that he had become so close to was very difficult.
"As I told the Kildare boys (when I was there), one of the things in football is when you're building up to a game, you have to almost hate the other team," Grimley added. "There's no way that I could instill that into the Monaghan boys this week because it just wasn't true."