Monday 20 May 2019

O'Neill laments second-half collapse as Kildare hang on

Kildare 1-11 Tipperary 2-7

Kildare manager Cian O’Neill. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Kildare manager Cian O’Neill. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"There's still lots to play for in this division," said Cian O'Neill after a one-point win over Tipperary in Newbridge on Saturday kept alive his team's chances of promotion but really, the Kildare boss was fuming after they almost let the win slip away.

The hosts were slow to start but found their attacking rhythm in the final stages of the first half. Fergal Conway's sweetly struck goal in the 34th minute followed by points from Kevin Feely and Jimmy Hyland helped them to a 1-7 to 0-2 half-time lead.

They extended that lead to nine early in the second half but went almost 25 minutes without a score after Neil Flynn's 47th minute point.

They were still seven ahead with ten minutes to play. Liam Boland's 61st minute goal gave Tipperary a glimmer of hope and Kildare then shot themselves in the foot by giving away possession inside their own 45 from their own free. That ended with a Dan O'Meara goal and Brian Fox then levelled the scores in injury time. Kildare nerves were settled by points from Adam Tyrrell and Neil Flynn and that was just about enough in the end.

It was a far from impressive second half and O'Neill made no attempt to hide his feelings.

"I'd love to sugar coat it and say the lads showed great heart and resilience to pull it out of the bag but that's not how this feels. This is a game that we should have had wrapped up a lot earlier and due to our own decision making and our own mistakes we almost let the match slip away. Every one of us, not just me, are angry and annoyed at that performance," said O'Neill.

Despite not hitting the heights demanded by their manager the result, along with Armagh's win over Fermanagh, means that Kildare could still be promoted if they beat Donegal in Ballyshannon in the last round.

"Although we are not playing the way we would like to and we are struggling for consistency in terms of who we put out on the pitch but more importantly, in how we are playing, we are looking forward to going up to Donegal and hitting our new target of nine points in the league table and seeing if that is enough," said O'Neill.

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