Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 12 December 2017

McGeeney can feel let down by poor call

Keith Barr

NO, it wasn't a free. And it wasn't really a great game either. It had an exciting finish that glossed over the previous 65-odd minutes which suggested both those teams are still off the pace in terms of winning the All- Ireland in September.

Kildare can feel hard done by with Cormac Reilly's decision but Kieran McGeeney isn't one to wallow in self-pity and he won't let his team do that either because he'll know the game was lost in other areas.

It's the second time in a few years that Kildare haven't taken advantage of the extra man against Dublin. And they insisted in running the generous share of possession straight down Dublin's throats. They had more joy than most on Stephen Cluxton's kick-outs but still couldn't make it count.

Another worry is that in the first half, which lasted about 37 minutes, they managed just four points compared to the 1-7 they totalled in the second half. And this was against a Dublin team who didn't play particularly well in my book.

Some people will say that this was the day that Dublin answered some doubts about their ability to see out big games when the pressure came on after Eoghan O'Gara's dismissal but it had more to do Kildare's lack of cutting edge up front.

They reduced the wide count, which was seen as a shortcoming in the build-up to the game, but still didn't look like they had enough firepower up front. It wasn't until Eamonn Callaghan's wonderful goal late on that the Lilies looked like they could threaten.

But previously they were devoid of imagination going forward. They had spent most of the day looking to expose the Dublin full-back line who were immense, with Rory O'Carroll my man of the match.

Another positive is that the subs worked well for Pat Gilroy too. Paul Conlon fully justified his selection, which had surprised some quarters when it was announced earlier in the week. Eamon Fennell offers Gilroy a different kind of option at midfield and his presence means that Cluxton's kick-outs could go down the middle more often.

And another lesson that Dublin learned was the importance of having Bernard Brogan on the field for as long as possible. When things were getting away from them in the league final against Cork, they missed a couple of chances that might have been converted were Brogan on the field. But yesterday when Dublin were handed that late free, there was no one else you'd want to have taking it.

A draw with Laois is a good one for Kildare as local derbies help to focus minds quickly. Kildare offer plenty and you'd still expect them to feature in the last eight and possibly even further.

Most people would have had yesterday's Kildare-Dublin match down as the Leinster final but on yesterday's evidence, Wexford won't fear going to Croke Park to face Dublin, particularly in light of how close they went to beating them last year.

Wexford have some lovely footballers and Jason Ryan has done a superb job in his time there. They don't seem to be overly reliant on any one player up front, with Shane Roche the main man yesterday while Ben Brosnan and Ciaran Lyng had been grabbing the headlines before that.

Admittedly, Carlow were some way off the pace but you'd still think that they have more than enough firepower to worry Dublin, although they might have a problem getting enough possession to them.

Finally, Meath had been backed into a corner and came out swinging. The knives were out for both Seamus McEnaney and the players and they answered their critics emphatically even if Louth looked very disorganised.

Galway were poor, by all accounts, yesterday, but they will still be another step up in class, but with home advantage and a new-found confidence, Meath will be expected to progress.

Irish Independent

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