Sunday 22 July 2018

Cian O'Neill hits back at Kildare discipline 'stories'

Kildare manager Cian O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare manager Cian O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kildare football manager Cian O'Neill has denied that a disciplinary issue flared up on their weekend trip to Kerry for their sixth round league match in Tralee, a result that ultimately condemned them to Division 2 of next year's Allianz Football League.

Speaking to media after Sunday's defeat to Galway, their seventh in the campaign, O'Neill accepted that "there will be stories and discussions" in relation to speculation locally that up to 10 players were not considered for the Galway game because of an issue that arose after the Kerry defeat.

O'Neill insisted that he was always intent on making changes for the game to give additional squad members some game time.

The Kildare squad had stayed overnight in Killarney after the game and because they were relegated it was decided to go out that night for a few drinks. "Basically, we went out for a few drinks as a group," he said.

O'Neill and rival manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice had agreed to play a challenge match on Sunday morning involving players who had not got much game-time during the league.

Consequently, Kildare brought down their full squad to the Kingdom but the match was shelved by Kerry because they had too many injuries, according to O'Neill, and that altered their plans.

Meanwhile, Ben McCormack looks like being unavailable for the championship as he will be based in Sligo, where he is continuing his studies, for the next few months.

McCormack - who played for his club Sarsfields in a local league game on Saturday night - is a promising forward who has scored in all five NFL games that he has started. Kildare are hoping that a position can be reached where McCormack can become available to them.

The Lilywhites lost all seven league games but performed reasonably well at the beginning of the campaign and were unlucky not to have taken something from either of their home games against Monaghan or Tyrone which they lost by a point.

They lost their captain Eoin Doyle in somewhat controversial circumstances against Donegal, but the manner of their defeats to Mayo and Galway at home especially has concluded the campaign on a negative note.

Elsewhere, Longford secretary Peter O'Reilly says their Leinster SFC quarter-final against Meath will go ahead at Pearse Park, even as remedial work continues to the stand which has been closed since 2015.

The ground will have a capacity of up to 8,000 for the match, sufficient to cater for the expected crowd.

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Irish Independent

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