Tuesday 16 January 2018

McGeeney awaits his fate as Johnston eyes Cavan return

Kieran McGeeney's future with Kildare is uncertain
Kieran McGeeney's future with Kildare is uncertain
There is speculation that Seanie Johnston may return to Cavan Gaels
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Twist or stick? That's the critical decision facing Kildare GAA over the next few weeks over the future of manager Kieran McGeeney.

McGeeney hasn't publicly declared he would like to stay on, but the feeling is that having altered the personnel significantly this season and seen the development of a host of U-21 players, he would like to keep going.

The question for Kildare is whether he has done enough to merit an extension to the two three-year terms he has already served.

John Doyle was quick to throw his weight behind McGeeney, underlining the impact he has had on football in the county at a general level.

But the balance of no Leinster title in six years against five successive All-Ireland quarter-finals and an honourable exit to Tyrone in a third-round qualifier has to be weighed up.

A 16-point defeat to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final was damaging to future prospects and McGeeney, by his own admission after that game, has tactical vulnerability. But Kildare have to consider if there is a better option over the next two years.

A number of familiar faces may not be around, however. Ronan Sweeney was quick to announce his retirement in the aftermath of Sunday's defeat, while two of their rising young stars, Daniel Flynn and Sean Hurley, have been targeted by AFL clubs.

There is also much speculation that Seanie Johnston will seek to transfer back to his former club Cavan Gaels in the near future. Whether that happens in the coming weeks or at the back end of the season remains to be seen, but it is not expected that he will be playing his club football in Kildare in 2014 and thus will not be eligible for the county.

Johnston was not available for St Kevin's opening championship match and has had limited involvement with them this year. They play a league match this weekend but don't have their second championship match until the second weekend in August.

Cavan Gaels' championship campaign will not resume until the county's interest in the All-Ireland championship is concluded and that could be some time yet, with a probable All-Ireland quarter-final to play on the Bank Holiday weekend.

Johnston has retained strong links with Cavan Gaels despite his controversial move away in 2012 and the expectancy in the club is that he will seek to return.

Prospect

His former Gaels colleague Martin Dunne, the man who has effectively replaced him on the Cavan team, was open to the prospect of Johnston returning when interviewed after the Ulster championship win over Armagh in May. Johnston's time in Kildare has not worked out as well as he might have expected.

He was eligible for nine championship games – including last year's Leinster final defeat to Meath the day after his eligibility was confirmed with an appearance for a local hurling club – but never started one, featuring as a substitute in eight matches.

Flynn has been tracked by a number of Melbourne-based AFL clubs and has undergone trials in Dublin and London under the Tadhg Kennelly programme.

Hurley is on the radar of Fremantle and is also expected to return for a second trial to Australia some time later this year.

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