Friday 18 October 2019

Kildare struggling to recapture momentum of 'Newbridge or nowhere' campaign

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

John Morley

In 2018 Kildare asserted themselves back to the top table of championship football.

They knocked Mayo out of the championship before the quarter-final stages for the first time since 2010 following the infamous 'Newbridge or nowhere' saga, and ran Monaghan and Galway close in the Super 8's before bowing out of the championship.

However, after the Lilywhite's disappointing performance against Wicklow in their opening Leinster Championship match, it remains to be seen if they can produce the stellar form of last year without marquee forwards Daniel Flynn and Paul Cribbin.

Irish Independent sports writer Michael Verney was amazed with Kildare's inconsistency and their inability to build on last year's progress.

"I thought after the 'Newbridge or nowhere' thing last year and after being relatively competitive in the Super 8's that they would push on this year," said Verney on The Throw-In podcast, in association with Bord Gais Energy.

Verney's colleague Donnchadh Boyle agreed and was amazed that Kildare have not grown stronger as a team following last year's success.

"It should have been galvanising for them. [Cian O'Neill] has lost his two selectors and he's lost his best player [Daniel Flynn]," said Boyle.

Boyle applauded Kildare manager Cian O'Neill's honesty, saying that the Kildare manager was always up front about the Lilywhite's problems with producing consistent performances.

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"[He] is very straight up when you ask him a question. consistency has been a big issue and it's been a huge issue going back to the time when Kieran McGeeney was bringing them to All-Ireland quarter-finals.

"They were beaten in Leinster nearly every year, they were beaten by Wicklow in Croke Park in those years.

"[They're] sort of like Meath. when they're expected to do something, and they're expected to put a game to bed and take care of business, they really struggle with that mantle."

Boyle believes that Kildare are a team studded with talent. Considering the inclusion of some members of the All-Ireland U20-winning tean to the panel, Boyle warned of Kildare's ability to shock a top team like they did to Mayo last year.

"They've an awful lot of talent, they're a very athletic team as well, which is half the battle. If they're given a shot against a team that they're not expected to beat like the Mayo scenario, I wouldn't be surprised if they took a big scalp before the end of summer."

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