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O’Connor not happy with second half performance, especially Kerry’s forward play

We basically tried to hold on to (lead) with twenty minutes to go and that was never going to happen’

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Kerry manager Jack O'Connor and Kildare full forward Daniel Flynn talking before the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, Kildare. Photo by Sportsfile

Kerry manager Jack O'Connor and Kildare full forward Daniel Flynn talking before the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, Kildare. Photo by Sportsfile

Kerry manager Jack O'Connor and Kildare full forward Daniel Flynn talking before the Allianz Football League Division 1 match at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, Kildare. Photo by Sportsfile

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A simple question for Jack O’Connor to start with: a point won or a point lost?

"It’s hard to say. I suppose you could make an argument that we were lucky to get out of here with a point the way we played in the second half. We basically tried to hold on to it with twenty minutes to go and that was never going to happen, you know,” the Kerry manager surmised.

Well, if we didn’t know then O’Connor certainly did. There were no surprises for the Dromid man on his return to Newbridge, six months after stepping down as manager of the Lilywhites.

"Kildare are just a very tough team to play here. I know that from being involved with them. A big crowd, the tightness of the pitch, the fact that the heavens opened a little bit and the ball was slippery, so it was always going to be tough here. It really was a defender’s day I suppose, and that kind of reflected on the scoreboard.

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"But we wouldn’t be happy with our forward play. There wasn’t enough movement up there, the ball wasn’t sticking and Kildare were just giving us trouble on the counter then. Not happy with the second half performance. We played alright in the first half, left a few scores after us. Paul Geaney had the chance of a point, David Clifford had the chance of a point, went for a goal, bits and pieces, so we possibly could have been six or seven up at half time but I felt that four was never going to be enough and that’s the way it proved,” was how O’Connor summed up a League game that handed promoted Kildare and title favourites Kerry a point apiece.

"This was always going to be a tricky game for me. A lot of good memories up here. still very friendly with a lot of the boys and the backroom staff here. I knew it was going to be a tricky game, no question about it. I gave it absolutely everything when I was up here in Kildare for two years. I enjoyed it, no regrets but it wasn't sustainable to keep it going,” O’Connor said of his return to the plains of Kildare for one day only.

Next Saturday Kerry host Dublin – who lost to Armagh on Saturday night – in Tralee and suddenly there is a greater need for both counties to get a win.

"Both teams will be looking to improve but I think it just shows the pre-season tournaments are grand for getting a bit of fitness but this was the real world,” O’Connor said. “Those games are exhibition games (but) this was a world apart from a dry sod in Fitzgerald Stadium and expanses there. Different type of game but that's good for fellas there to experience that. You really see who the leaders are in a game like that when your back is to the wall.”

Did he see enough Kerry leaders in Newbridge to manage that crisis there?

"That's the question we'll have to reflect (on). We are down a few players, good few players when you think of it. Anything up to seven or eight players. We’re down anything up to seven or eight players. We think we’ll improve when we have the full panel back. This game will bring us on. This was a real game. It’s only a six-day turnaround so we won’t be doing a whole pile next week.

"It was always going to be a big game with Dublin coming to town. Both sides will be looking to improve from our first outing. Look, Kerry-Dublin are always big games. We have a bit of work to do obviously.”


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