'The next two weeks are going to be huge' - Sweeney
Kildare selector Ronan Sweeney insists their emerging young team will learn plenty about what it takes to succeed at the top level after going toe to toe with three-in-a-row chasing All-Ireland champions Dublin in last Sunday's Leinster SFC final.
The Lilies went down by nine points but showed flashes of their potential at times and could have been closer had they taken more of their chances, particularly in the second-half when Daniel Flynn should have found the net.
"I think that would have brought it back to a three-point game. Look, these things happen. Daniel played very well. We said it before the game, the last three or four weeks, when we get these goal chances we have got to take them," Sweeney said.
"Look, it was a good save. Who knows what might have been if that had gone in.
"I think Dublin were the better team, they probably would have pulled away anyway but yeah, we would have liked to ask the questions of them."
Sweeney, who lined out for Kildare for 14 seasons before retiring in 2013, believes their talented, young side will take "great learning" from the 70 minutes in Croke Park.
"Switching off is something that the best teams just don't do," Sweeney reflected afterwards.
"You can't afford to switch off for a minute against Dublin because they'll have you nailed and the ball will be over the bar or in the back of the net.
"But it's the only way to learn these things; you can talk about them all you like but you have to experience them and I think they'll get great learning out of this game."
Kildare will play in the top flight of the league next year and Sweeney believes the more they are exposed to the top teams, the more they will improve.
"We knew to win the game everything had to go our way. We knew we'd get chances and we knew we had to take them, particularly any goal chances we got we knew we'd have to rattle the net and unfortunately we didn't do it.
"They are ruthless. I think they had only one wide in the second-half, that's the difference. We are getting there. It's a work in progress. There are plenty of positives building up to this game and to take out of this game.
"But ultimately against the top teams I thought there was a real difference there between a team that's just going into Division 1 and a team that's been at the top of their game for the last seven or eight years."
Kildare were drawn against Armagh in yesterday morning's qualifier draw where they will face their former manager Kieran McGeeney but they might have to do so without captain Eoin Doyle.
Doyle went under the knife for an operation on a broken thumb yesterday, having played with the injury for the defeat to Dublin, and he is a major doubt for Saturday week's clash with the Orchard.
As it stands Kildare will go into that game without star midfielder Kevin Feely, who is set to miss the game after picking up three black cards this season. However, they are expected to appeal.
Sweeney just wants his side to keep progressing.
"We are getting there. We are making progress. There's no doubt about it. Just thinking about ourselves and where we started the year, to where we are now. We had a loss here but I know we are making progress.
"The next two weeks are going to be huge for this team in terms of how we react to this team."
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