McGeeney in balancing act to keep crop of rising stars fresh
THE wins keep on coming for Kieran McGeeney's Kildare, but the Lilywhites manager admits he faces a delicate balancing act with his young stars after Wednesday night's convincing Leinster U-21 quarter-final success over Meath.
Kildare will look to continue McGeeney's best league start as manager when they take on Dublin in Croke Park on Sunday.
Daniel Flynn, Niall Kelly and Paddy Brophy starred against the Royals just days after playing their part in the NFL win over Kerry and they are in line for their third game in seven days when they visit HQ.
Others like Padraig Fogarty, Sean Hurley and Fionn Dowling performed well on Wednesday, while former AFL player Paul Cribbin is likely to be called up to the senior squad in the coming weeks after making his comeback as a substitute.
But McGeeney insists young players are playing in too many competitions and more could be done to protect them from burnout.
"(Finding a balance) is a very hard thing to do," agreed the Armagh man. "It comes down to decisions on my behalf. It's very difficult. This non-training regime was set up for 18 to 21-year-olds, but they seem to put all the competitions on at the one time. Niall Kelly had a Freshers game last Thursday and a game on Sunday, tonight and next Sunday.
"We haven't let those boys train. They have been resting in between, so we have to try and find the balance."
Kildare will look to continue their happy knack of beating recent All-Ireland winners this weekend.
After overcoming the champions of 2009, 2010 and 2012 in Kerry, Cork and Donegal so far in this league campaign, they'll be aiming to add the scalp of the 2011 champions this Sunday when they face Dublin, a team they've already beaten in the O'Byrne Cup.
And they look to be in rude health at U-21 level too, a grade they haven't won a single game at since 2009.
With Dublin out after their surprise defeat to Longford, Kildare are clear favourites to secure provincial honours.
They take on Laois in the Leinster semi-final first and McGeeney isn't looking past that midlands derby.
"We've Laois next, and Kildare and Laois go back a long way, as I found out when I came here. Like all U-21 games, it will be tight. We have a big job ahead of us."