Wednesday 26 April 2017

McGeeney unfazed by Lilies' wide count

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

MUCH of the build-up to Sunday week's Leinster semi-final clash with Dublin will focus on Kildare's alarming recent profligacy in front of goal.

However, Kieran McGeeney will be mindful of the 2009 Leinster final, when the Lilywhites' shooting was superb against the Dubs, but they still came up short.

The Lilies scored all of their 18 points from play that day, but were undone by a brace of goals as Dublin collected their fifth successive provincial title.

And manager McGeeney protested that his side have already proven their scoring pedigree.

"People mention the scoring thing but we have the second highest-scoring forward line over the last two years in the championship if you take our average per game," said the Armagh man.

"Two years ago I thought we played well enough to beat (Dublin). We let in two very soft goals against the run of play. We hit 18 points from play that day and never got a scoreable free kick until the last one when we needed a goal in the last minute.

cuter

"If we are hitting those type of scores this time while playing that type of game then maybe we will be a wee bit cuter in terms of not letting them in for soft goals. They have hit something like 30 goals in 13 matches so they rely heavily on goals."

Kildare have hit a staggering 35 wides in 140 minutes of championship football, which has prompted calls for midfielder John Doyle -- the championship's top scorer last year -- to be posted in his more customary position in the full-forward line. The possible return of Daryl Flynn may broaden Kildare's options in midfield, but McGeeney insists the wide count is manageable.

"If it takes 40 shots to score 20 points I'm still happy with that as long as we get the 40 shots. Ye (the media) seem to be a lot more worried about this than I am. If we hit 18 wides and beat Dublin by a point I will be the happiest man there."

Another telling statistic is that after half-time, Meath and Wicklow managed just four scores between them against Kildare, and just one of those came from play. Second-half domination has been a Lilies trait since they were sent through the back door last year, when they repeatedly found their rhythm in the second half.

Antrim were hit for 0-11 on the restart, Derry for 2-9, Monaghan for 1-9 and Meath for 0-12 as Kildare lit the afterburners before they fell agonisingly short against Down in the All-Ireland semi-final.

McGeeney will also keep a close eye on refereeing appointments when they are released next week.

Pat McEnaney refereed last year's defeat to Down when Benny Coulter's goal was given despite a 'square ball' infringement, and the Monaghan man was in charge for the Leinster final defeat in 2009 and the '08 All Ireland quarter-final loss to Cork.

McGeeney also acknowledged that some of Dublin's key men have to be curbed if Kildare are to reach a Leinster final against either Carlow or Wexford.

"Bryan Cullen has been very important to them in a lot of games and they seem to have missed him when he has come off because of the work that he does. (Paul) Flynn is very quick in terms of his pace and he is able to defend and attack with it. (Kevin) McManamon in the middle is constantly able to go.

"Dublin probably have the most potent full-forward line in the country right now with the two Brogans and Diarmuid Connolly who are all very natural footballers. They don't even seem to have to try to get the scores.

"It seems like the rest of the team are willing to give up the game just to make those three look good and that is an unusual trait in a team."

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport