Sport Gaelic Football

Friday 23 February 2018

All county teams should play every week -- McGeeney

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

KILDARE'S famously guarded football boss has always refused to talk about any of their forthcoming matches and firmly maintained that stance ahead of Saturday's fascinating All-Ireland quarter-final against Donegal.

Kieran McGeeney wouldn't countenance speaking about Kildare's prospects, or their Ulster champion opponents, at a press launch for championship sponsors Supervalu yesterday.

But he had no problems contradicting the notion that his team don't have enough scorers to go all the way to a September Sunday.

"In the last three years, our championship scoring average is around 18-19 scores," he said. "It's fairly high and I think it's enough.

"That notion (that Kildare don't score enough) is never put to bed, listening to some of the punditry. There's some good pundits out there and some very silly ones, so you're better ignoring the whole lot."

He said he has no fears about Kildare's ability to fulfil their demanding back-door schedule and pull out another big win for the fourth week in a row.

"The qualifiers show that Gaelic football as a spectacle could be played on a weekly basis -- there's potential there to play more quality games," McGeeney said.

"Playing week after week, you can pick up knocks and things, but there's also positives. You can gain momentum, you can look at your game inside out, start to tweak it.

"I'd love to see more inter-county games. People will talk about burnout, but to play nine or 10 games in nine months seems a bit ridiculous. It's very stop-start really," he said of GAA's inter-county structure.

He believes this increase in inter-county fare could also be achieved in harmony with club fixtures, a comment that will raise eyebrows in Kildare, where club championship fixtures have repeatedly been put on hold to facilitate his side's progression to at least the All-Ireland quarter-finals in each of his four years in charge.

McGeeney feels there would be no conflict, provided the inter-county season was condensed.

"Cut down the inter-county scene by four or five weeks and let the club scene start later, so everyone gets a chance to play for both teams," he explained.

"In the past, I think the GAA wanted to be in the papers all year long, to be able to counter other sports, but I think those days are gone, the GAA is well able to stand on its own two feet now."

All eyes will be watching to see if totemic Kildare captain John Doyle starts at midfield again on Saturday, after being moved to his more traditional forward role halfway through last weekend's defeat of Derry.


And while McGeeney gave away nothing about his latest team selection, he made it clear that he will, as always, be operating on a 'horses for courses' basis.

"Your best 15 changes depending on the game and opposition, and I change it quite a bit," he said. "It's unfair to say your starting 15 are your 'best 15'.

"If you've a big strong full-back, the likes of Tom O'Connor and him are going to have a real battle and the referee is hardly going to blow a free-kick between them because they're well fit for it.

"But put someone small in on that full-back, the likes of Alan Smith, and he's knocked around the same way, you might get more free-kicks and his pace might create more havoc."

McGeeney also confirmed that Kildare's latest midfield casualty, Hugh Lynch, had surgery on his knee last Friday and will be out for the rest of the season.

Irish Independent

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