Thursday 26 April 2018

Eugene McGee: Kildare must come out and explain this pitiful surrender

Kildare’s Alan Smith leaves the field after this team’s heavy defeat against Kerry in Croke Park
Kildare’s Alan Smith leaves the field after this team’s heavy defeat against Kerry in Croke Park
Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

How many more exhibition games can football supporters take this year? We have had a surfeit of games when the result was over before half-time and the winning teams were as bored as the losers as we all went through the motions of finishing off a championship fixture.

Yesterday in Croke Park was undoubtedly the worst example of this genre we have seen for many years, with Kerry scoring a staggering seven goals in the second half alone, something I have never witnessed at county level - and I have been watching such games for a lifetime.

What a result like this indicates about the state of the game nowadays - or the manner in which the Championship is played off - should be of concern to anybody who cares about Gaelic football.

Kildare is one of the top ten counties in Ireland by population size. It has a powerful GAA tradition and always had a reputation for producing quality footballers despite seldom winning championships.

Yesterday their players looked like juveniles facing seniors.


Nobody who knows anything about the game will be shouting that it was typical Kildare or that they players played to their maximum ability.

Yet it is a cop-out to state that their performance was a mystery.

The players must stand up and explain to their followers just why they played so woefully poorly and suffered the ignominy - there is no other word to sum up conceding seven goals in one game after an eight-month period of intensive training.

I have watched and admired many of these players over the past few years, and I felt Kildare had a batch of very talented performers with great futures.

But after yesterday I am not so sure because there is no excuse for how poorly they played against Kerry.

Granted, Kerry did play brilliantly in the second half but when they realised just how weak the Kildare performance was, they realised that scoring goals for fun was actually going to be easy.

The decision of Eamonn Fitzmaurice to leave out Kieran Donaghy - although there were rumours of an injury - indicated that Kerry were sure they were going to win and this was an ideal time to start Colm Cooper and opt for a different style of attacking play, as they did in the Munster final when Cooper came on.

Of course Kerry still have the tried and trusted method of getting scores courtesy of Donaghy, and no doubt that will be utilised later this year.

Indeed this is Kerry's greatest weapon from now on - the fact that they have more options both as a team unit and in utilising different players during a game.

This was tested out yesterday when lads like Darran O'Sullivan arrived on the scene in the second half and got a bag of scores, and also the selection of Stephen O'Brien in the half-forward line, where he had a fabulous game.

There has been much talk for years about the strength of the Dublin panel, but Kerry have the best selection of forwards in the country bar none.

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