Monday 24 October 2016

Avoiding Dublin in Leinster could improve qualifier health

Published 17/06/2015 | 02:30

Kildare manager Jason Ryan.
Kildare manager Jason Ryan.

Jason Ryan called it straight.

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"In Kildare, you're the worst in the world or the best in the world - that's just the way it is.

"We've got to be secure in the belief of what we, as a group, are working at doing," said the Lilywhite boss after the big win over Laois last Saturday.

Presumably, the long-suffering supporters were, however briefly, leaning towards the latter view.

After all, they had seen their side score 3-18, the county's highest total in the Leinster Championship for 37 years since they hit Louth for 4-15 in the 1978 quarter-final.

Of course, the reality soon dawned on them that the prize for beating Laois was a semi-final clash with Dublin, which immediately reawakened memories of the 16-point defeat by the rampant Blues two years ago. It was an ugly experience for players and supporters.

With Dublin so far ahead of the rest in Leinster over recent seasons, the prospect of jousting with them in Croke Park is not nearly as attractive as it used to be, since it carries the risk of psychological damage heading into the qualifiers.

For instance, Longford were delighted with their courageous comeback, which beat Offaly in the Leinster first round last month, but lost so heavily to Dublin next time out that you wonder whether Offaly are in a better frame of mind going into next Saturday's qualifiers.

There's no reason to believe that Pat Flanagan's men would have fared any better against Dublin than Longford did, but at least they were spared the trauma ahead of the qualifiers.

Now, it's possible that Kildare will provide a much better test for Dublin than their 12/1 odds suggest but what if they don't?

They will then join the qualifiers in Round 2 against a team that has won a first-round game.

In those circumstances, who would be in better shape: opposition that had reinvigorated themselves with a first-round qualifier win or Kildare coming off a big defeat by Dublin?

It shows how crucial it is for Kildare to put in a really good performance against Dublin in order to be in an upbeat mood for whoever they face next.

That might sound defeatist but it's now the reality in lop-sided Leinster where Dublin are handing out routine trimmings that must have a debilitating impact on the opposition.

It's all the worse if it's a team's last experience before the qualifiers.

Irish Independent

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