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Lilies must clean up 'sloppy' play – McGrillen

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Kildare's Hugh McGrillen. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile.

Kildare's Hugh McGrillen. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile.

Kildare's Hugh McGrillen. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile.

ON March 10 of this year, after Dublin had beaten Kildare by all of 13 points in their League meeting in Croke Park, veteran Lillies defender Hugh McGrillen Tweeted: "Just playing an elaborate rope-a-dope".

Dark humour aside, it would represent quite the coup for Kildare to knock the Dubs off their Leinster perch in a month's time and the respective scorelines and performances over the course of Saturday's double-header probably just served to brand Jim Gavin's men more clearly as favourites.

"Job done, yeah, but I'd be extremely disappointed with the team performance out there," admitted McGrillen of Kildare's first match of what he hopes will be a long summer.

"We were just so sloppy in possession of the ball. So it gives us a hell of a lot of work to do over the next four weeks."

Yet according to the quirky and unwritten rules of GAA, it is apparently far better to win as Kildare did against Offaly (i.e. unremarkably) than it is to flatten your opposition so forcefully, à la the Dubs' disposal of Westmeath.

Under the radar and the long grass (lurking or otherwise) are, by all known GAA tradition, precisely the places to be housed in preparation for such a match. "Yeah, exactly, it's not the worst way," McGrillen added. "And on the positive side, 19 points scored is always good. It's a good target to hit. But, defensively, I mean we had the worst defensive record in Division 1 and it doesn't look like we've come on. In that game, we conceded 1-2 in the last 10 minutes when we should have shut the game out. It just didn't happen."

On the injury front side, Eoin Doyle – named in the team to play Offaly but withdrawn before throw-in – should be back and fit while Pádraig O'Neill is expected to return to training tomorrow night and will, should he prove his match sharpness, provide a very useful option around the middle eight.

Seán Hurley's availability is as yet unclear after he was dropped from the squad for the Offaly win for what was widely reported as a breach of discipline.

 

DEBUTANTS

And of the five Kildare debutants who started against Offaly, the afternoon can be classed as an unqualified success, particularly for Niall Kelly and Paul Cribbin, who along with fellow half-forward Eoghan O'Flaherty, contributed equally a dozen points from play.

"It's great scoring to be doing," McGrillen praised. "I thought Niall Kelly as well, his distribution was excellent. He's always showing for it and then he's tagging on scores at the other end. So he had a good game.

"They're great footballers, with plenty of learning to do but judging by their performance they're worth their places on the team.

"At the end of the day we've won, so we can't get too disheartened but there's plenty of improving to be doing," he added.

"Based on (the Offaly) performance there'll be no Leinster title. We just have to look to the next opposition the next day and just try and improve. Because if we don't improve, we'll be out of the Leinster championship based on that performance."


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