Wednesday 22 November 2017

GPS figures showed us that we needed to work harder - Kildare's Ollie Lyons

Ollie Lyons of Kildare fends off the challenge of Meath’s Donnacha Tobin during Saturday’s Leinster SFC semi-final. Photo: Sportsfile
Ollie Lyons of Kildare fends off the challenge of Meath’s Donnacha Tobin during Saturday’s Leinster SFC semi-final. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

After last year's Leinster semi-final defeat to Westmeath, Kildare's Ollie Lyons could instantly identify what went wrong.

The GPS trackers in the back of their jerseys don't lie and after his side dismantled Meath in Tullamore last Saturday night, Lyons revealed that Kildare quite literally hadn't put in the yards to win that game last year.

"I was just saying there it is mad that it is 2009 since the last Leinster final and the most important thing today was that we performed," Lyons said after his side's nine-point win over the Royals.

"The last couple of years we really underperformed and last year against Westmeath, that was the most disappointing thing.

"One of the biggest signs of underperformance is the GPS when you look at it after games - and it was absolutely pathetic last year against Westmeath. This year it has been picking up, though.

"Our strength and conditioning team have done a lot of good work so the fitness levels are good and physicality is good.

"It is great to get back into a Leinster final and hopefully we can build on today and bring it into the final against Dublin or Westmeath."

Kildare laid the foundations for their impressive success with a storming defensive display. A Meath side that managed 27 points against Louth could only amass four points by the break. Lyons insisted that it was a team effort.

"Cian (O'Neill) has brought that in, a good structure in defence and we defend well as a unit. It stems right from the front, corner-forwards tracking back defenders, running them down," said Lyons.

"You have wing-forwards like Slatts (David Slattery) and Fergal (Conway) doing trojan work and turning the ball over time after time, so it is a real group defensive effort.

"The structure is getting there. We are not the finished article yet, we have a hell of a lot to improve on, but if we can keep building on from Laois to today and to the Leinster final, hopefully we'll be in a good, competitive place.

"We were expecting a tough game from Meath as they gave Louth a going over, putting up 27 points.

"We felt like if we could target some of their main players who performed the last day for them, that old saying 'hammer the hammer', that we'd be in a good position to turn them over and we did that today.

Cutting

"Hylo (David Hyland) did a great job on Graham Reilly and some of their main threats were nullified and our cutting-edge players really performed. Slatts has come into the panel this year and he cut through them numerous times and created chances.

"Paddy (Brophy) coming back in for his first game after being in Australia, I thought he played really well today, and there's a hell of a lot of room for improvement in some guys too."

A possible Leinster final showdown with All-Ireland champions Dublin awaits, should Jim Gavin's men get over the challenge of Westmeath this Sunday.

The excitement will be building in the run-up to the decider on July 16, as Kildare supporters start to dream about just how far their talented team can go.

Lyons echoed his manager's sentiments when he stated that they could mix it with anyone, once they approach the game in the right frame of mind.

"To be fair we always have great support with Kildare, it's a great footballing county," he said.

"I think it's important to keep expectations in check as well. We have had two good performances, but consistency is what we are looking for at the minute and to be fair we are getting there, promoted two years running and we put in some good performances.

"Harping back to the GPS, it fell off a cliff in that game against Westmeath. If we can get our work rate up in every single game I think we'll be a hard enough team to beat."

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