Saturday 24 March 2018

Lilies bond too special to give up now – Doyle

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The close bond John Doyle has built up with his Kildare team-mates was too difficult to sever as he weighed up retirement in the close season.

Doyle, who was the main architect behind Kildare's O'Byrne Cup victory over Wexford, revealed that retirement was, for the first time, genuinely a prospect as he approaches his 35th birthday this month.

"I thought about it, I spoke to Siobhan (his wife) at home and she gave me all the support. I had a good chat with Kieran (McGeeney). Once I felt I had something to offer, I went with it," he said.

"We have a special bunch at the moment, it is very hard to walk away from it.

"When you get that bit older, you realise that, when you do close the door, that's it. There is no visiting it again. That was very much in the back of my mind.

"Once you think you have something to offer, when you make the decision to get back into training, that's it."

Even the possibility of sitting out the early part of the season didn't come into consideration.Hence his appearance in recent O'Byrne Cup fixtures.

"I felt it was all or nothing. I'd prefer to be out doing a bit, trying to keep as sharp as I can. I'm sure if I went to Kieran and said I wanted a bit of time off he would have been accommodating, but I didn't want that. I'm the same as everyone else," said Doyle (pictured).

The bond that brought him back was also responsible, he feels, for rescuing victory on Sunday as Kildare plucked a game back from the abyss that they would have hated losing after all their dominance over Wexford.

"There is a great team ethos there. It is very hard to build that over a season, even two seasons.

"Obviously lads, for one reason or another, come and go but that bond is always there. It's a sort of mental toughness to keep going to the bitter end. You'd be pleased with that side of it against Wexford.

"We've been in that position before. You're always trying to learn from previous situations. That's what experience is all about.

"It was important that we got the ball from the next kick-out. It was a bit of a scramble, in fairness, it was a great ball from James Eaton and Morgan (O'Flaherty) finished it, which is pleasing, especially for James. He's only coming on, he's learning his trade, so to pick out a pass like that is very pleasing."

He has welcomed Kildare's decision to go to Croke Park for two of their Division 1 league matches, against Donegal and Dublin.

"It's not a bad substitute to have. For young lads coming in maybe they can be a bit in awe of it. It's only by playing up there that you see the grass is the same, the goals are the same. These are the basic principles. For the young lads especially, it's good for them to get the few extra games."

Doyle discounted the notion that there is any more pressure on the team to deliver than there was in 2012.

"You can read a lot into that. It was said last year that it was do or die. It's do or die every year. Regardless of whatever happens in 2013, we'll be back in 2014.

"That will always be the case. We'll have to learn harsh lessons along the way. It's not always pretty."

Meanwhile, Armagh manager Paul Grimley has confirmed that Jamie Clarke will be available for the Orchard county this year.

Clarke had signaled his intention to travel once his involvement with Crossmaglen Rangers in the All-Ireland club series is complete.

But Grimley has revealed that those plans have now been shelved and that he will take up employments in a communications role with Armagh County Board in the coming weeks.

Irish Independent

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