Tuesday 20 August 2019

'When there's a sniff of the finish line, they don't kick on' - Why Kildare must learn to finish off teams

Longford’s David McGivney looks on as his team-mate Michael Quinn, hidden by Kildare full-back David Hyland, shoots past goalkeeper Mark Donnellan and Eoin Doyle (No 6) to score a goal during extra-time. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Longford’s David McGivney looks on as his team-mate Michael Quinn, hidden by Kildare full-back David Hyland, shoots past goalkeeper Mark Donnellan and Eoin Doyle (No 6) to score a goal during extra-time. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

John Morley

Kildare inconsistency issues have been magnified again this year.

Last year they started off their championship with a shock loss to Carlow before getting a surprise qualifier win against Mayo to reach the Super 8's.

In the 2019 championship thus far, the Lilywhites have picked up where they left off last year, by letting Wicklow back into the game in their opening outing and again this weekend in their topsy-turvy extra-time draw with Longford.

Irish Independent GAA reporter Michael Verney watched this 'bizarre' encounter and noted that Cian O'Neill's men have a bad habit of collapsing once they feel the game is won.

"They can get themselves into a position but when there's a sniff of the finish line coming, they don't seem to kick on," said Verney.

Kildare can count themselves very lucky to have a second chance against a defiant Longford after a late point to win it hit the post.

"Had James McGivney's shot in the 74th minute hit the inside of the post rather than the outside, they'd be out of the Leinster championship," Verney said.

"Cian O'Neill is under fire already, he'd be on fire [I'd say]. He's under serious pressure because when you look down through the personnel, there's some really really talented personnel in there.

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Verney believes Kildare had 'no defensive plan' and questioned their set-up.

"There's still no defensive plan from what I can see. Eoin Doyle, who usually plays sweeper, was kept occupied a lot of the time. They looked like they could be cut open at will," he said.

Irish Independent GAA columnist Martin Breheny explained that this inconsistency has been a trademark of all Kildare teams as they fail to get the most from their players as a collective.

"It's almost been the history of Kildare football, that the team is not as good as the sum of the parts," said Breheny.

Breheny highlighted that the lacklustre performance will be a concern if O'Neill's men get over Longford at the second time of asking, as they would go on to meet Dublin in a Leinster semi-final.

"Kildare will feel that they should have won it, you expect a team like Kildare, more experienced and higher up the pecking order to just go about it in a professional manner and they didn't. That's a concern for them and it'll be a concern if they head into the [Leinster] semi-final," said Breheny.

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