Sunday 18 March 2018

It's Dublin against the rest but you still hope - Doyle

Johnny Doyle: 'It’s Dublin against the rest in Leinster, no doubt about it, but teams just have to treat it like a one-off-game'
Johnny Doyle: 'It’s Dublin against the rest in Leinster, no doubt about it, but teams just have to treat it like a one-off-game'
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Kildare legend Johnny Doyle has likened this summer's Leinster Senior Football Championship to "David versus Goliath" given Dublin's dominance of the province for the last decade.

"It's Dublin against the rest in Leinster, no doubt about it, but teams just have to treat it like a one-off-game," he said of taking on the team which has contested and won nine of the last 10 Leinster SFC finals.

They're expected to dispense with Division 4 finalists Offaly or Longford first and Kildare are on the other side of the draw.

"Whether it's Kildare, Laois or Carlow who meet them (in a semi-final) they'll be going in with nothing to lose," Doyle said. "Anything can happen in a once-off game so they just have to go in with that attitude and come to it with some plan for trying to beat Dublin."

Speaking at the launch of a unique event which will bring players from four of Kildare's biggest club rivals together in a cancer fundraiser, Doyle, who retired last year, conceded that things are at a low ebb locally after the Lilywhites' shock relegation to Division 3. But he said it just means they really need their fans to rally now.

"They need the support now more than ever," he said as Jason Ryan regroups his dispirited team for a championship quarter-final against Carlow or Laois on June 6.

"I'd be talking to the lads regularly and they've had a tough time of it, no doubt," he said. "If you look back at the league games there was a very fine line at times. The Down game was there for them and, if they'd won that, it could have been all so different. But it's like a snowball, once you lose momentum it very hard to get it back.

"After the Laois game we thought we might get a result in Galway but over the years we've always struggled against them so it was a tough one to go down there the last day.

"But it's amazing, one or two good results could lift the spirit again and that's what they need now," he said hopefully.

Doyle and all of the Kildare team who contested the 1998 All-Ireland are expected to take part in the unique 'SMART Against Cancer' charity match in Sarsfields on May 30.

Four of the county's clubs - the initials represent 'The Sash', Moorefield, Doyle's Allenwood and Round Towers - are putting their rivalries aside for once, and many other local sporting heroes like Ruby Walsh, Trevor Brennan and Niall Quinn will also take part.

The event will also honour the county's U-21 squad from 1965, the last Kildare team to win an All-Ireland football title.

After 15 years' county service, Doyle, 37, retired last spring but is still central to Allenwood's fortunes and will line out for them against Celbridge in the first round of the county SFC in a fortnight.

"There's days in Newbridge when you'd be mad to be out there," he confessed after a year out of inter-county action. "That will probably be there all your life, but you don't miss the day-to-day intensity.

"I have a family now and, in the end, I probably got tired of just going and going the whole time."

Many of his '98 county team-mates have retired but all have committed to the charity event.

"There's a few lads who might be wintering well and have a few ailments but they'll come and give us five minutes," Doyle quipped.

"Once Glenn (Ryan) called I think everyone just said 'count me in' straight away because it is such a good cause."

Liam Moore of the organising committee said: "We know the number of people out there who have been touched by cancer. We decided that if cancer has no boundaries, then, to hell with it, the four clubs would show no boundaries either and come together to work for the community."

Irish Independent

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