Saturday 23 September 2017

Lilywhites not mean or cute enough to bag top-level glory

Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

When I wrote after their demolition by Dublin in the Leinster final that the Kildare team at present is simply not good enough to cope with the top counties, I got a few stinging Lilywhite replies, anonymous of course.

But after Saturday's failure against Tyrone, can anybody really argue with this viewpoint?

The Red Hands are far removed from their great three-time All-Ireland winners, yet they gave an object lesson on how to win games.

Tyrone had a definite plan, one Mickey Harte has honed to perfection over the years, and they carried it out ruthlessly.

Kildare's players seemed totally bemused by what was happening, and looking at close-ups of players on television in the first half, it was amazing to see the look of shock and awe on their faces. Rabbits in the glare of headlights seemed the best metaphor to use at the time.

Tyrone know how to use their physical power to maximum effect; they can be mean when required, and above all their players are very, very cute at aspects of the game – good and not so good – as the situation requires.

Qualities

These are the very qualities that some Kildare players seem to lack and largely explains why they have failed to win anything of significance for the past six years.

Kildare have possibly the best physically equipped players in the country, but they do not know how to use those qualities cleverly. They continue to play cross-field passes and generally slow down the game with too many passes, which of course played right into the hands and feet of crafty Tyrone players who like nothing better than to engage in close physical scraps, which they nearly always win.

Kildare's physicality has often been used unwisely, leading to too many frees given away in the tackle.

Why Kildare cannot move the ball quickly and with pace going straight down the field is a mystery. In fairness, they did play like that for a period in the second half – with exciting results when they drew level with Tyrone – but they soon reverted to type and performed like they did in the entire first half.

Tyrone will not win the All-Ireland this year because too many of their iconic players of recent years are gone and a few others are living on borrowed time, but they could still prevent a couple of better teams from winning.

Irish Independent

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