Earley: Lilies must find real belief or face painful exit
It's the hope that kills you and in Dermot Earley's mind, it was certainly Kildare's undoing in their 19-point drubbing at the hands of Dublin last Sunday.
And now, a six-day turnaround leaves the Lilywhites attempting to salvage a season that is hurtling towards disaster.
On the back of their relegation to Division 3 and the embarrassment against Dublin, David Hyland and Darroch Mulhall have left panel, to compound the mood of despondency in Kildare.
But through all the doom and gloom, Earley can see hope for his former side - but only if they have a serious shift in their mindset ahead of tomorrow's qualifier against Offaly in Tullamore.
"As a supporter, you always go in with hope. And I think Kildare went in with hope (against Dublin). But if you hope you're going to win a game, you're not going to win it," Earley said at yesterday's launch of the GPA's new fair play campaign.
"You have to really believe you're going to win.
"And they didn't do that. They didn't believe. I think we were all hoping - including myself - that they would be within a 10-point margin, that you could build on that going into the qualifiers.
"But it was disappointing, the level that they played at. A lot of things were disappointing. I was disappointed with fitness levels. I was disappointed that they waited until the second half to really put the fight up.
"That's worrying. But I do know a lot of these lads, and they've taken a lot of these beatings in the past and they have bounced back. They're strong mentally.
"The six-day turnaround is going to be a big issue. They're in Tullamore, against their neighbours, who would love to take a skelp off us.
"So they have to have their heads right. And if they're not, I don't think they're going to come away with a result."
As president of the GPA and as a proud Kildare man, Earley is bitterly disappointed with Hyland and Mulhall's decision to opt out, but he is confident that the Lilies can bounce back.
"I would argue that that's a reflection on them as well. Maybe it indicates that it didn't mean as much as you would like from a Kildare man.
"That's what was disappointing," Earley said.
"The thing about the qualifiers is that one win can set you up. If you win tomorrow, last Sunday is forgotten. Because you automatically change your focus.
"One win can change everything. I think if we get a run in the qualifiers, we'll see the real quality in Kildare."